Book III. Forest (part2)

“Is this thy counsel, weak and base,
Unworthy of thy giant race?
Thy speech is fruitless, vain, thy toil
Like casting seed on barren soil.
No words of thine shall drive me back
From Ráma and the swift attack.
A fool is he, inured to sin,
And more, of human origin.
The craven, at a woman's call
To leave his sire, his mother, all
The friends he loved, the power and sway,
And hasten to the woods away!
But now his anger will I rouse,
Stealing away his darling spouse.
I in thy sight will ravish her
From Khara's cruel murderer.
Upon this plan my soul is bent,
And naught shall move my firm intent,
Not if the way through demons led
And Gods with Indra at their head.
'Tis thine, when questioned, to explain
The hope and fear, the loss and gain,
And, when thy king thy thoughts would know,
The triumph or the danger show.
A prudent counsellor should wait,
And speak when ordered in debate,
With hands uplifted, calm and meek,
If honour and reward he seek.
Or, when some prudent course he sees
Which, spoken, may his king displease
He should by hints of dexterous art
His counsel to his lord impart.
But prudent words are said in vain
When the blunt speech brings grief and pain.
The Ramayana
A high-souled king will scarcely thank
The man who shames his royal rank.
Five are the shapes that kings assume,
Of majesty, of grace, and gloom:
Like Indra now, or Agni, now
Like the dear Moon, with placid brow:
Like mighty Varuṇ now they show,
Now fierce as He who rules below.
O giant, monarchs lofty-souled
Are kind and gentle, stern and bold,
With gracious love their gifts dispense
And swiftly punish each offence.
Thus subjects should their rulers view
With all respect and honour due.
But folly leads thy heart to slight
Thy monarch and neglect his right.
Thou hast in lawless pride addressed
With bitter words thy royal guest.
I asked thee not my strength to scan,
Or loss and profit in the plan.
I only spoke to tell the deed
O mighty one, by me decreed,
And bid thee in the peril lend
Thy succour to support thy friend.
Hear me again, and I will tell
How thou canst aid my venture well.
In semblance of a golden deer
Adorned with silver drops, appear:
And near the cottage in the way
Of Ráma and his consort stray.
Draw nigh, and wandering through the brake
With thy strange form her fancy take.
The Maithil dame with wondering eyes
Will took upon thy fair disguise,
Canto XL. Rávan's Speech.
And quickly bid her husband go
And bring the deer that charms her so,
When Raghu's son has left the place,
Still pressing onward in the chase,
Cry out, “O Lakshmaṇ! Ah, mine own!”
With voice resembling Ráma's tone.
When Lakshmaṇ hears his brother's cry,
Impelled by Sítá he will fly,
Restless with eager love, to aid
The hunter in the distant shade.
When both her guards have left her side,
Even as Indra, thousand-eyed,
Clasps Śachí, will I bear away
The Maithil dame an easy prey.
When thou, my friend, this aid hast lent,
Go where thou wilt and live content.
True servant, faithful to thy vow,
With half my realm I thee endow.
Go forth, may luck thy way attend
That leads thee to the happy end.
I in my car will quickly be
In Daṇḍak wood, and follow thee.
So will I cheat this Ráma's eyes
And win without a blow the prize;
And safe return to Lanká's town
With thee, my friend, this day shall crown.
But if thou wilt not aid my will,
My hand this day thy blood shall spill.
Yea, thou must share the destined task,
For force will take the help I ask.
No bliss that rebel's life attends
Whose stubborn will his lord offends.
Thy life, if thou the task assay,
In jeopardy may stand;
The Ramayana
Oppose me, and this very day
Thou diest by this hand.
Now ponder all that thou hast heard
Within thy prudent breast:
Reflect with care on every word,
And do what seems the best.”
Canto XLI. Márícha's Reply.
Against his judgment sorely pressed
By his imperious lord's behest,
Márícha threats of death defied
And thus with bitter words replied:
“Ah, who, my King, with sinful thought
This wild and wicked counsel taught,
By which destruction soon will fall
On thee, thy sons, thy realm and all?
Who is the guilty wretch who sees
With envious eye thy blissful ease,
And by this plan, so falsely shown,
Death's gate for thee has open thrown?
With souls impelled by mean desire
Thy foes against thy life conspire.
They urge thee to destruction's brink,
And gladly would they see thee sink.
Who with base thought to work thee woe
This fatal road has dared to show,
And, triumph in his wicked eye,
Would see thee enter in and die?
To all thy counsellors, untrue,
The punishment of death is due,
Canto XLI. Márícha's Reply.
Who see thee tempt the dangerous way,
Nor strain each nerve thy foot to stay.
Wise lords, whose king, by passion led,
The path of sin begins to tread,
Restrain him while there yet is time:
But thine,—they see nor heed the crime.
These by their master's will obtain
Merit and fame and joy and gain.
'Tis only by their master's grace
That servants hold their lofty place.
But when the monarch stoops to sin
They lose each joy they strive to win,
And all the people people high and low
Fall in the common overthrow.
Merit and fame and honour spring,
Best of the mighty, from the king.
So all should strive with heart and will
To keep the king from every ill.
Pride, violence, and sullen hate
Will ne'er maintain a monarch's state,
And those who cruel deeds advise
Must perish when their master dies,
Like drivers with their cars o'erthrown
In places rough with root and stone.
The good whose holy lives were spent
On duty's highest laws intent,
With wives and children many a time
Have perished for another's crime.
Hapless are they whose sovereign lord,
Opposed to all, by all abhorred,
Is cruel-hearted, harsh, severe:
Thus might a jackal tend the deer.
Now all the giant race await,
Destroyed by thee, a speedy fate,
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Ruled by a king so cruel-souled,
Foolish in heart and uncontrolled.
Think not I fear the sudden blow
That threatens now to lay me low:
I mourn the ruin that I see
Impending o'er thy host and thee.
Me first perchance will Ráma kill,
But soon his hand thy blood will spill.
I die, and if by Ráma slain
And not by thee, I count it gain.
Soon as the hero's face I see
His angry eyes will murder me,
And if on her thy hands thou lay
Thy friends and thou are dead this day.
If with my help thou still must dare
The lady from her lord to tear,
Farewell to all our days are o'er,
Lanká and giants are no more.
In vain, in vain, an earnest friend,
I warn thee, King, and pray.
Thou wilt not to my prayers attend,
Or heed the words I say
So men, when life is fleeting fast
And death's sad hour is nigh,
Heedless and blinded to the last
Reject advice and die.”
Canto XLII. Márícha Transformed.
Canto XLII. Márícha Transformed.
Márícha thus in wild unrest
With bitter words the king addressed.
Then to his giant lord in dread,
“Arise, and let us go,” he said.
“Ah, I have met that mighty lord
Armed with his shafts and bow and sword,
And if again that bow he bend
Our lives that very hour will end.
For none that warrior can provoke
And think to fly his deadly stroke.
Like Yáma with his staff is he,
And his dread hand will slaughter thee.
What can I more? My words can find
No passage to thy stubborn mind.
I go, great King, thy task to share,
And may success attend thee there.”
With that reply and bold consent
The giant king was well content.
He strained Márícha to his breast
And thus with joyful words addressed:
“There spoke a hero dauntless still,
Obedient to his master's will,
Márícha's proper self once more:
Some other took thy shape before.
Come, mount my jewelled car that flies.
Will-governed, through the yielding skies.
These asses, goblin-faced, shall bear
Us quickly through the fields of air.
Attract the lady with thy shape,
Then through the wood, at will, escape.
And I, when she has no defence,
Will seize the dame and bear her thence.”
The Ramayana
Again Márícha made reply,
Consent and will to signify.
With rapid speed the giants two
From the calm hermit dwelling flew,
Borne in that wondrous chariot, meet
For some great God's celestial seat.
They from their airy path looked down
On many a wood and many a town,
On lake and river, brook and rill,
City and realm and towering hill.
Soon he whom giant hosts obeyed,
Márícha by his side, surveyed
The dark expanse of Daṇḍak wood
Where Ráma's hermit cottage stood.
They left the flying car, whereon
The wealth of gold and jewels shone,
And thus the giant king addressed
Márícha as his hand he pressed:
“Márícha, look! before our eyes
Round Ráma's home the plantains rise.
His hermitage is now in view:
Quick to the work we came to do!”
Thus Rávaṇ spoke, Márícha heard
Obedient to his master's word,
Threw off his giant shape and near
The cottage strayed a beauteous deer.
With magic power, by rapid change,
His borrowed form was fair and strange.
A sapphire tipped each horn with light;
His face was black relieved with white.
The turkis and the ruby shed
A glory from his ears and head.
Canto XLII. Márícha Transformed.
His arching neck was proudly raised,
And lazulites beneath it blazed.
With roseate bloom his flanks were dyed,
And lotus tints adorned his hide.
His shape was fair, compact, and slight;
His hoofs were carven lazulite.
His tail with every changing glow
Displayed the hues of Indra's bow.
With glossy skin so strangely flecked,
With tints of every gem bedecked.
A light o'er Ráma's home he sent,
And through the wood, where'er he went.
The giant clad in that strange dress
That took the soul with loveliness,
To charm the fair Videhan's eyes
With mingled wealth of mineral dyes,
Moved onward, cropping in his way,
The grass and grain and tender spray.
His coat with drops of silver bright,
A form to gaze on with delight,
He raised his fair neck as he went
To browse on bud and filament.
Now in the Cassia grove he strayed,
Now by the cot in plantains' shade.
Slowly and slowly on he came
To catch the glances of the dame,
And the tall deer of splendid hue
Shone full at length in Sítá's view.
He roamed where'er his fancy chose
Where Ráma's leafy cottage rose.
Now near, now far, in careless ease,
He came and went among the trees.
Now with light feet he turned to fly,
Now, reassured, again drew nigh:
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Now gambolled close with leap and bound,
Now lay upon the grassy ground:
Now sought the door, devoid of fear,
And mingled with the troop of deer;
Led them a little way, and thence
Again returned with confidence.
Now flying far, now turning back
Emboldened on his former track,
Seeking to win the lady's glance
He wandered through the green expanse.
Then thronging round, the woodland deer
Gazed on his form with wondering fear;
A while they followed where he led,
Then snuffed the tainted gale and fled.
The giant, though he longed to slay
The startled quarry, spared the prey,
And mindful of the shape he wore
To veil his nature, still forbore.
Then Sítá of the glorious eye,
Returning from her task drew nigh;
For she had sought the wood to bring
Each loveliest flower of early spring.
Now would the bright-eyed lady choose
Some gorgeous bud with blending hues,
Now plucked the mango's spray, and now
The bloom from an Aśoka bough.
She with her beauteous form, unmeet
For woodland life and lone retreat,
That wondrous dappled deer beheld
Gemmed with rich pearls, unparalleled,
His silver hair the lady saw,
His radiant teeth and lips and jaw,
And gazed with rapture as her eyes
Expanded in their glad surprise.
Canto XLIII. The Wondrous Deer.
And when the false deer's glances fell
On her whom Ráma loved so well,
He wandered here and there, and cast
A luminous beauty as he passed;
And Janak's child with strange delight
Kept gazing on the unwonted sight.
Canto XLIII. The Wondrous Deer.
She stooped, her hands with flowers to fill,
But gazed upon the marvel still:
Gazed on its back and sparkling side
Where silver hues with golden vied.
Joyous was she of faultless mould,
With glossy skin like polished gold.
And loudly to her husband cried
And bow-armed Lakshmaṇ by his side:
Again, again she called in glee:
“O come this glorious creature see;
Quick, quick, my lord, this deer to view.
And bring thy brother Lakshmaṇ too.”
As through the wood her clear tones rang,
Swift to her side the brothers sprang.
With eager eyes the grove they scanned,
And saw the deer before them stand.
But doubt was strong in Lakshmaṇ's breast,
Who thus his thought and fear expressed:
The Ramayana
“Stay, for the wondrous deer we see
The fiend Márícha's self may be.
Ere now have kings who sought this place
To take their pastime in the chase,
Met from his wicked art defeat,
And fallen slain by like deceit.
He wears, well trained in magic guile,
The figure of a deer a while,
Bright as the very sun, or place
Where dwell the gay Gandharva race.
No deer, O Ráma, e'er was seen
Thus decked with gold and jewels' sheen.
'Tis magic, for the world has ne'er,
Lord of the world, shown aught so fair.”
But Sítá of the lovely smile,
A captive to the giant's wile,
Turned Lakshmaṇ's prudent speech aside
And thus with eager words replied:
“My honoured lord, this deer I see
With beauty rare enraptures me.
Go, chief of mighty arm, and bring
For my delight this precious thing.
Fair creatures of the woodland roam
Untroubled near our hermit home.
The forest cow and stag are there,
The fawn, the monkey, and the bear,
Where spotted deer delight to play,
And strong and beauteous Kinnars494stray.
But never, as they wandered by,
Has such a beauty charmed mine eye
As this with limbs so fair and slight,
494A race of beings of human shape but with the heads of horses, like centaurs
Canto XLIII. The Wondrous Deer.
So gentle, beautiful and bright.
O see, how fair it is to view
With jewels of each varied hue:
Bright as the rising moon it glows,
Lighting the wood where'er it goes.
Ah me, what form and grace are there!
Its limbs how fine, its hues how fair!
Transcending all that words express,
It takes my soul with loveliness.
O, if thou would, to please me, strive
To take the beauteous thing alive,
How thou wouldst gaze with wondering eyes
Delighted on the lovely prize!
And when our woodland life is o'er,
And we enjoy our realm once more,
The wondrous animal will grace
The chambers of my dwelling-place,
And a dear treasure will it be
To Bharat and the queens and me,
And all with rapture and amaze
Upon its heavenly form will gaze.
But if the beauteous deer, pursued,
Thine arts to take it still elude,
Strike it, O chieftain, and the skin
Will be a treasure, laid within.
O, how I long my time to pass
Sitting upon the tender grass,
With that soft fell beneath me spread
Bright with its hair of golden thread!
This strong desire, this eager will,
Befits a gentle lady ill:
But when I first beheld, its look
My breast with fascination took.
See, golden hair its flank adorns,
The Ramayana
And sapphires tip its branching horns.
Resplendent as the lunar way,
Or the first blush of opening day,
With graceful form and radiant hue
It charmed thy heart, O chieftain, too.”
He heard her speech with willing ear,
He looked again upon the deer.
Its lovely shape his breast beguiled
Moved by the prayer of Janak's child,
And yielding for her pleasure's sake,
To Lakshmaṇ Ráma turned and spake:
“Mark, Lakshmaṇ, mark how Sítá's breast
With eager longing is possessed.
To-day this deer of wondrous breed
Must for his passing beauty bleed,
Brighter than e'er in Nandan strayed,
Or Chaitraratha's heavenly shade.
How should the groves of earth possess
Such all-surpassing loveliness!
The hair lies smooth and bright and fine,
Or waves upon each curving line,
And drops of living gold bedeck
The beauty of his side and neck.
O look, his crimson tongue between
His teeth like flaming fire is seen,
Flashing, whene'er his lips he parts,
As from a cloud the lightning darts.
O see his sunlike forehead shine
With emerald tints and almandine,
While pearly light and roseate glow
Of shells adorn his neck below.
No eye on such a deer can rest
Canto XLIII. The Wondrous Deer.
But soft enchantment takes the breast:
No man so fair a thing behold
Ablaze with light of radiant gold,
Celestial, bright with jewels' sheen,
Nor marvel when his eyes have seen.
A king equipped with bow and shaft
Delights in gentle forest craft,
And as in boundless woods he strays
The quarry for the venison slays.
There as he wanders with his train
A store of wealth he oft may gain.
He claims by right the precious ore,
He claims the jewels' sparkling store.
Such gains are dearer in his eyes
Than wealth that in his chamber lies,
The dearest things his spirit knows,
Dear as the bliss which Śukra chose.
But oft the rich expected gain
Which heedless men pursue in vain,
The sage, who prudent counsels know,
Explain and in a moment show.
This best of deer, this gem of all,
To yield his precious spoils must fall,
And tender Sítá by my side
Shall sit upon the golden hide.
Ne'er could I find so rich a coat
On spotted deer or sheep or goat.
No buck or antelope has such,
So bright to view, so soft to touch.
This radiant deer and one on high
That moves in glory through the sky,
Alike in heavenly beauty are,
One on the earth and one a star.
But, brother, if thy fears be true,
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And this bright creature that we view
Be fierce Márícha in disguise,
Then by this hand he surely dies.
For that dire fiend who spurns control
With bloody hand and cruel soul,
Has roamed this forest and dismayed
The holiest saints who haunt the shade.
Great archers, sprung of royal race,
Pursuing in the wood the chase,
Have fallen by his wicked art,
And now my shaft shall strike his heart.
Vatápi, by his magic power
Made heedless saints his flesh devour,
Then, from within their frames he rent
Forth bursting from imprisonment.
But once his art in senseless pride
Upon the mightiest saint he tried,
Agastya's self, and caused him taste
The baited meal before him placed.
Vátápi, when the rite was o'er,
Would take the giant form he wore,
But Saint Agastya knew his wile
And checked the giant with smile.
“Vátápi, thou with cruel spite
Hast conquered many an anchorite
The noblest of the Bráhman caste,—
And now thy ruin comes at last.”
Now if my power he thus defies,
This giant, like Vátápi dies,
Daring to scorn a man like me,
A self subduing devotee.
Yea, as Agastya slew the foe,
My hand shall lay Márícha low
Clad in thine arms thy bow in hand,
Canto XLIV. Márícha's Death.
To guard the Maithil lady stand,
With watchful eye and thoughtful breast
Keeping each word of my behest
I go, and hunting through the brake
This wondrous deer will bring or take.
Yea surely I will bring the spoil
Returning from my hunter's toil
See, Lakshmaṇ how my consort's eyes
Are longing for the lovely prize.
This day it falls, that I may win
The treasure of so fair a skin.
Do thou and Sítá watch with care
Lest danger seize you unaware.
Swift from my bow one shaft will fly;
The stricken deer will fall and die
Then quickly will I strip the game
And bring the trophy to my dame.
Jaṭáyus, guardian good and wise,
Our old and faithful friend,
The best and strongest bird that flies,
His willing aid will lend
The Maithil lady well protect,
For every chance provide,
And in thy tender care suspect
A foe on every side.”
Canto XLIV. Márícha's Death.
The Ramayana
Thus having warned his brother bold
He grasped his sword with haft of gold,
And bow with triple flexure bent,
His own delight and ornament;
Then bound two quivers to his side,
And hurried forth with eager stride.
Soon as the antlered monarch saw
The lord of monarchs near him draw,
A while with trembling heart he fled,
Then turned and showed his stately head.
With sword and bow the chief pursued
Where'er the fleeing deer he viewed
Sending from dell and lone recess
The splendour of his loveliness.
Now full in view the creature stood
Now vanished in the depth of wood;
Now running with a languid flight,
Now like a meteor lost to sight.
With trembling limbs away he sped;
Then like the moon with clouds o'erspread
Gleamed for a moment bright between
The trees, and was again unseen.
Thus in the magic deer's disguise
Márícha lured him to the prize,
And seen a while, then lost to view,
Far from his cot the hero drew.
Still by the flying game deceived
The hunter's heart was wroth and grieved,
And wearied with the fruitless chase
He stayed him in a shady place.
Again the rover of the night
Enraged the chieftain, full in sight,
Slow moving in the coppice near,
Surrounded by the woodland deer.
Canto XLIV. Márícha's Death.
Again the hunter sought the game
That seemed a while to court his aim:
But seized again with sudden dread,
Beyond his sight the creature fled.
Again the hero left the shade,
Again the deer before him strayed.
With surer hope and stronger will
The hunter longed his prey to kill.
Then as his soul impatient grew,
An arrow from his side he drew,
Resplendent at the sunbeam's glow,
The crusher of the smitten foe.
With skillful heed the mighty lord
Fixed well shaft and strained the cord.
Upon the deer his eyes he bent,
And like a fiery serpent went
The arrow Brahma's self had framed,
Alive with sparks that hissed and flamed,
Like Indra's flashing levin, true
To the false deer the missile flew
Cleaving his flesh that wonderous dart
Stood quivering in Márícha's heart.
Scarce from the ground one foot he sprang,
Then stricken fell with deadly pang.
Half lifeless, as he pressed the ground,
He gave a roar of awful sound
And ere the wounded giant died
He threw his borrowed form aside
Remembering still his lord's behest
He pondered in his heart how best
Sítá might send her guard away,
And Rávaṇ seize the helpless prey.
The monster knew the time was nigh,
And called aloud with eager cry,
The Ramayana
“Ho, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ” and the tone
He borrowed was like Ráma's own.
So by that matchless arrow cleft,
The deer's bright form Márícha left,
Resumed his giant shape and size
And closed in death his languid eyes.
When Ráma saw his awful foe
Gasp, smeared with blood, in deadly throe,
His anxious thoughts to Sítá sped,
And the wise words that Lakshmaṇ said,
That this was false Márícha's art,
Returned again upon his heart.
He knew the foe he triumphed o'er
The name of great Márícha bore.
“The fiend,” he pondered, 'ere he died,
“Ho, Lakshmaṇ! ho, my Sítá!” cried
Ah, if that cry has reached her ear,
How dire must be my darling's fear!
And Lakshmaṇ of the mighty arm,
What thinks he in his wild alarm?
As thus he thought in sad surmise,
Each startled hair began to rise,
And when he saw the giant slain
And thought upon that cry again,
His spirit sank and terror pressed
Full sorely on the hero's breast.
Another deer he chased and struck,
He bore away the the fallen buck,
To Janasthán then turned his face
And hastened to his dwelling place.
Canto XLV. Lakshman's Departure.
Canto XLV. Lakshman's Departure.
But Sítá hearing as she thought,
Her husband's cry with anguish fraught,
Called to her guardian, “Lakshmaṇ, run
And in the wood seek Raghu's son.
Scarce can my heart retain its throne,
Scarce can my life be called mine own,
As all my powers and senses fail
At that long, loud and bitter wail.
Haste to the wood with all thy speed
And save thy brother in his need.
Go, save him in the distant glade
Where loud he calls, for timely aid.
He falls beneath some giant foe—
A bull whom lions overthrow.”
Deaf to her prayer, no step he stirred
Obedient to his mother's word,
Then Janak's child, with ire inflamed,
In words of bitter scorn exclaimed exclaimed
“Sumitrá's son, a friend in show,
Thou art in truth thy brother's foe,
Who canst at such any hour deny
Thy succour and neglect his cry.
Yes, Lakshmaṇ, smit with love of me
Thy brother's death thou fain wouldst see.
This guilty love thy heart has swayed
And makes thy feet so loth to aid.
Thou hast no love for Ráma, no:
Thy joy is vice, thy thoughts are low
Hence thus unmoved thou yet canst stay
While my dear lord is far away.
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If aught of ill my lord betide
Who led thee here, thy chief and guide,
Ah, what will be my hapless fate
Left in the wild wood desolate!”
Thus spoke the lady sad with fear,
With many a sigh and many a tear,
Still trembling like a captured doe:
And Lakshmaṇ spoke to calm her woe:
“Videhan Queen, be sure of this,—
And at the thought thy fear dismiss,—
Thy husband's mightier power defies
All Gods and angels of the skies,
Gandharvas, and the sons of light,
Serpents, and rovers of the night.
I tell thee, of the sons of earth,
Of Gods who boast celestial birth,
Of beasts and birds and giant hosts,
Of demigods, Gandharvas, ghosts,
Of awful fiends, O thou most fair,
There lives not one whose heart would dare
To meet thy Ráma in the fight,
Like Indra's self unmatched in might.
Such idle words thou must not say
Thy Ráma lives whom none may slay.
I will not, cannot leave thee here
In the wild wood till he be near.
The mightiest strength can ne'er withstand
His eager force, his vigorous hand.
No, not the triple world allied
With all the immortal Gods beside.
Dismiss thy fear, again take heart,
Let all thy doubt and woe depart.
Canto XLV. Lakshman's Departure.
Thy lord, be sure, will soon be here
And bring thee back that best of deer.
Not his, not his that mournful cry,
Nor haply came it from the sky.
Some giant's art was busy there
And framed a castle based on air.
A precious pledge art thou, consigned
To me by him of noblest mind,
Nor can I fairest dame, forsake
The pledge which Ráma bade me take.
Upon our heads, O Queen, we drew
The giants' hate when Ráma slew
Their chieftain Khara, and the shade
Of Janasthán in ruin laid.
Through all this mighty wood they rove
With varied cries from grove to grove
On rapine bent they wander here:
But O, dismiss thy causeless fear.”
Bright flashed her eye as Lakshmaṇ spoke
And forth her words of fury broke
Upon her truthful guardian, flung
With bitter taunts that pierced and stung:
“Shame on such false compassion, base
Defiler of thy glorious race!
'Twere joyous sight I ween to thee
My lord in direst strait to see.
Thou knowest Ráma sore bested,
Or word like this thou ne'er hadst said.
No marvel if we find such sin
In rivals false to kith and kin.
Wretches like thee of evil kind,
Concealing crime with crafty mind.
Thou, wretch, thine aid wilt still deny,
The Ramayana
And leave my lord alone to die.
Has love of me unnerved thy hand,
Or Bharat's art this ruin planned?
But be the treachery his or thine,
In vain, in vain the base design.
For how shall I, the chosen bride
Of dark-hued Ráma, lotus-eyed,
The queen who once called Ráma mine,
To love of other men decline?
Believe me, Lakshmaṇ, Ráma's wife
Before thine eyes will quit this life,
And not a moment will she stay
If her dear lord have passed away.”
The lady's bitter speech, that stirred
Each hair upon his frame, he heard.
With lifted hands together laid,
His calm reply he gently made:
“No words have I to answer now:
My deity, O Queen, art thou.
But 'tis no marvel, dame, to find
Such lack of sense in womankind.
Throughout this world, O Maithil dame,
Weak women's hearts are still the same.
Inconstant, urged by envious spite,
They sever friends and hate the right.
I cannot brook, Videhan Queen,
Thy words intolerably keen.
Mine ears thy fierce reproaches pain
As boiling water seethes the brain.
And now to bear me witness all
The dwellers in the wood I call,
That, when with words of truth I plead,
Canto XLV. Lakshman's Departure.
This harsh reply is all my meed.
Ah, woe is thee! Ah, grief, that still
Eager to do my brother's will,
Mourning thy woman's nature, I
Must see thee doubt my truth and die.
I fly to Ráma's side, and Oh,
May bliss attend thee while I go!
May all attendant wood-gods screen
Thy head from harm, O large-eyed Queen!
And though dire omens meet my sight
And fill my soul with wild affright,
May I return in peace and see
The son of Raghu safe with thee!”
The child of Janak heard him speak,
And the hot tear-drops down her cheek,
Increasing to a torrent, ran,
As thus once more the dame began:
“O Lakshmaṇ, if I widowed be
Godávarí's flood shall cover me,
Or I will die by cord, or leap,
Life weary, from yon rocky steep;
Or deadly poison will I drink,
Or 'neath the kindled flames will sink,
But never, reft of Ráma, can
Consent to touch a meaner man.”
The Maithil dame with many sighs,
And torrents pouring from her eyes,
The faithful Lakshmaṇ thus addressed,
And smote her hands upon her breast.
>Sumitrá's son, o'erwhelmed by fears,
Looked on the large-eyed queen:
He saw that flood of burning tears,
The Ramayana
He saw that piteous mien.
He yearned sweet comfort to afford,
He strove to soothe her pain;
But to the brother of her lord
She spoke no word again.
His reverent hands once more he raised,
His head he slightly bent,
Upon her face he sadly gazed,
And then toward Ráma went.
Canto XLVI. The Guest.
The angry Lakshmaṇ scarce could brook
Her bitter words, her furious look.
With dark forebodings in his breast
To Ráma's side he quickly pressed.
Then ten necked Rávaṇ saw the time
Propitious for his purposed crime.
A mendicant in guise he came
And stood before the Maithil dame.
His garb was red, with tufted hair
And sandalled feet a shade he bare,
And from the fiend's left shoulder slung
A staff and water-vessel hung.
Near to the lovely dame he drew,
While both the chiefs were far from view,
As darkness takes the evening air
When neither sun nor moon is there.
He bent his eye upon the dame,
A princess fair, of spotless fame:
Canto XLVI. The Guest.
So might some baleful planet be
Near Moon-forsaken Rohiṇí.495
As the fierce tyrant nearer drew,
The trees in Janasthán that grew
Waved not a leaf for fear and woe,
And the hushed wind forbore to blow.
Godávarí's waters as they fled,
Saw his fierce eye-balls flashing red,
And from each swiftly-gliding wave
A melancholy murmur gave.
Then Rávaṇ, when his eager eye
Beheld the longed-for moment nigh,
In mendicant's apparel dressed
Near to the Maithil lady pressed.
In holy guise, a fiend abhorred,
He found her mourning for her lord.
Thus threatening draws Śaniśchar496nigh
To Chitrá497in the evening sky;
Thus the deep well by grass concealed
Yawns treacherous in the verdant field.
He stood and looked upon the dame
Of Ráma, queen of spotless fame
With her bright teeth and each fair limb
Like the full moon she seemed to him,
Sitting within her leafy cot,
Weeping for woe that left her not.
Thus, while with joy his pulses beat,
He saw her in her lone retreat,
Eyed like the lotus, fair to view
In silken robes of amber hue.
Pierced to the core by Káma's dart
495The favourite wife of the Moon.
496The planet Saturn.
497Another favourite of the Moon; one of the lunar mansions.
The Ramayana
He murmured texts with lying art,
And questioned with a soft address
The lady in her loneliness.
The fiend essayed with gentle speech
The heart of that fair dame to reach,
Pride of the worlds, like Beauty's Queen
Without her darling lotus seen:
“O thou whose silken robes enfold
A form more fair than finest gold,
With lotus garland on thy head,
Like a sweet spring with bloom o'erspread,
Who art thou, fair one, what thy name,
Beauty, or Honour, Fortune, Fame,
Spirit, or nymph, or Queen of love
Descended from thy home above?
Bright as the dazzling jasmine shine
Thy small square teeth in level line.
Like two black stars aglow with light
Thine eyes are large and pure and bright.
Thy charms of smile and teeth and hair
And winning eyes, O thou most fair,
Steal all my spirit, as the flow
Of rivers mines the bank below.
How bright, how fine each flowing tress!
How firm those orbs beneath thy dress!
That dainty waist with ease were spanned,
Sweet lady, by a lover's hand.
Mine eyes, O beauty, ne'er have seen
Goddess or nymph so fair of mien,
Or bright Gandharva's heavenly dame,
Or woman of so perfect frame.
In youth's soft prime thy years are few,
And earth has naught so fair to view.
Canto XLVI. The Guest.
I marvel one like thee in face
Should make the woods her dwelling-place.
Leave, lady, leave this lone retreat
In forest wilds for thee unmeet,
Where giants fierce and strong assume
All shapes and wander in the gloom.
These dainty feet were formed to tread
Some palace floor with carpets spread,
Or wander in trim gardens where
Each opening bud perfumes the air.
The richest robe thy form should deck,
The rarest gems adorn thy neck,
The sweetest wreath should bind thy hair,
The noblest lord thy bed should share.
Art thou akin, O fair of form,
To Rudras,498or the Gods of storm,499
Or to the glorious Vasus500? How
Can less than these be bright as thou?
But never nymph or heavenly maid
Or Goddess haunts this gloomy shade.
Here giants roam, a savage race;
What led thee to so dire a place?
Here monkeys leap from tree to tree,
And bears and tigers wander free;
Here ravening lions prowl, and fell
Hyenas in the thickets yell,
And elephants infuriate roam,
Mighty and fierce, their woodland home.
Dost thou not dread, so soft and fair,
Tiger and lion, wolf and bear?
498The Rudras, agents in creation, are eight in number; they sprang from the
forehead of Brahmá.
499Maruts, the attendants of Indra.
500Radiant demi-gods.
The Ramayana
Hast thou, O beauteous dame, no fear
In the wild wood so lone and drear?
Whose and who art thou? whence and why
Sweet lady, with no guardian nigh,
Dost thou this awful forest tread
By giant bands inhabited?”
The praise the high-souled Rávaṇ spoke
No doubt within her bosom woke.
His saintly look and Bráhman guise
Deceived the lady's trusting eyes.
With due attention on the guest
Her hospitable rites she pressed.
She bade the stranger to a seat,
And gave him water for his feet.
The bowl and water-pot he bare,
And garb which wandering Bráhmans wear
Forbade a doubt to rise.
Won by his holy look she deemed
The stranger even as he seemed
To her deluded eyes.
Intent on hospitable care,
She brought her best of woodland fare,
And showed her guest a seat.
She bade the saintly stranger lave
His feet in water which she gave,
And sit and rest and eat.
He kept his eager glances bent
On her so kindly eloquent,
Wife of the noblest king;
And longed in heart to steal her thence,
Preparing by the dire offence,
Death on his head to bring.
Canto XLVII. Rávan's Wooing.
The lady watched with anxious face
For Ráma coming from the chase
With Lakshmaṇ by his side:
But nothing met her wandering glance
Save the wild forest's green expanse
Extending far and wide.
Canto XLVII. Rávan's Wooing.
As, clad in mendicant's disguise,
He questioned thus his destined prize,
She to the seeming saintly man
The story of her life began.
“My guest is he,” she thought, “and I,
To 'scape his curse, must needs reply:”
“Child of a noble sire I spring
From Janak, fair Videha's king.
May every good be thine! my name
Is Sítá, Ráma's cherished dame.
Twelve winters with my lord I spent
Most happily with sweet content
In the rich home of Raghu's line,
And every earthly joy was mine.
Twelve pleasant years flew by, and then
His peers advised the king of men,
Ráma, my lord, to consecrate
Joint ruler of his ancient state.
But when the rites were scarce begun,
To consecrate Ikshváku's son,
The queen Kaikeyí, honoured dame,
Sought of her lord an ancient claim.
The Ramayana
Her plea of former service pressed,
And made him grant her new request,
To banish Ráma to the wild
And consecrate instead her child.
This double prayer on him, the best
And truest king, she strongly pressed:
“Mine eyes in sleep I will not close,
Nor eat, nor drink, nor take repose.
This very day my death shall bring
If Ráma be anointed king.”
As thus she spake in envious ire,
The aged king, my husband's sire,
Besought with fitting words; but she
Was cold and deaf to every plea.
As yet my days are few; eighteen
The years of life that I have seen;
And Ráma, best of all alive,
Has passed of years a score and five—
Ráma the great and gentle, through
All region famed as pure and true,
Large-eyed and mighty-armed and tall,
With tender heart that cares for all.
But Daśaratha, led astray
By woman's wile and passion's sway,
By his strong love of her impelled,
The consecrating rites withheld.
When, hopeful of the promised grace,
My Ráma sought his father's face,
The queen Kaikeyí, ill at ease,
Spoke to my lord brief words like these:
“Hear, son of Raghu, hear from me
The words thy father says to thee:
“I yield this day to Bharat's hand,
Free from all foes, this ancient land.
Canto XLVII. Rávan's Wooing.
Fly from this home no longer thine,
And dwell in woods five years and nine.
Live in the forest and maintain
Mine honour pure from falsehood's stain.’”
Then Ráma spoke, untouched by dread:
“Yea, it shall be as thou hast said.”
And answered, faithful to his vows,
Obeying Daśaratha's spouse:
“The offered realm I would not take,
But still keep true the words he spake.”
Thus, gentle Bráhman, Ráma still
Clung to his vow with firmest will.
And valiant Lakshmaṇ, dear to fame,
His brother by a younger dame,
Bold victor in the deadly fray,
Would follow Ráma on his way.
On sternest vows his heart was set,
And he, a youthful anchoret,
Bound up in twisted coil his hair
And took the garb which hermits wear;
Then with his bow to guard us, he
Went forth with Ráma and with me.
By Queen Kaikeyí's art bereft
The kingdom and our home we left,
And bound by stern religious vows
We sought this shade of forest boughs.
Now, best of Bráhmans, here we tread
These pathless regions dark and dread.
But come, refresh thy soul, and rest
Here for a while an honoured guest,
For he, my lord, will soon be here
With fresh supply of woodland cheer,
Large store of venison of the buck,
Or some great boar his hand has struck.
The Ramayana
Meanwhile, O stranger, grant my prayer:
Thy name, thy race, thy birth declare,
And why with no companion thou
Roamest in Daṇḍak forest now.”
Thus questioned Sítá, Ráma's dame.
Then fierce the stranger's answer came:
“Lord of the giant legions, he
From whom celestial armies flee,—
The dread of hell and earth and sky,
Rávaṇ the Rákshas king am I.
Now when thy gold-like form I view
Arrayed in silks of amber hue,
My love, O thou of perfect mould,
For all my dames is dead and cold.
A thousand fairest women, torn
From many a land my home adorn.
But come, loveliest lady, be
The queen of every dame and me.
My city Lanká, glorious town,
Looks from a mountain's forehead down
Where ocean with his flash and foam
Beats madly on mine island home.
With me, O Sítá, shalt thou rove
Delighted through each shady grove,
Nor shall thy happy breast retain
Fond memory of this life of pain.
In gay attire, a glittering band,
Five thousand maids shall round thee stand,
And serve thee at thy beck and sign,
If thou, fair Sítá, wilt be mine.”
Canto XLVII. Rávan's Wooing.
Then forth her noble passion broke
As thus in turn the lady spoke:
“Me, me the wife of Ráma, him
The lion lord with lion's limb,
Strong as the sea, firm as the rock,
Like Indra in the battle shock.
The lord of each auspicious sign,
The glory of his princely line,
Like some fair Bodh tree strong and tall,
The noblest and the best of all,
Ráma, the heir of happy fate
Who keeps his word inviolate,
Lord of the lion gait, possessed
Of mighty arm and ample chest,
Ráma the lion-warrior, him
Whose moon bright face no fear can dim,
Ráma, his bridled passions' lord,
The darling whom his sire adored,—
Me, me the true and loving dame
Of Ráma, prince of deathless fame—
Me wouldst thou vainly woo and press?
A jackal woo a lioness!
Steal from the sun his glory! such
Thy hope Lord Ráma's wife to touch.
Ha! Thou hast seen the trees of gold,
The sign which dying eyes behold,
Thus seeking, weary of thy life,
To win the love of Ráma's wife.
Fool! wilt thou dare to rend away
The famished lion's bleeding prey,
Or from the threatening jaws to take
The fang of some envenomed snake?
What, wouldst thou shake with puny hand
The Ramayana
Mount Mandar,501towering o'er the land,
Put poison to thy lips and think
The deadly cup a harmless drink?
With pointed needle touch thine eye,
A razor to thy tongue apply,
Who wouldst pollute with impious touch
The wife whom Ráma loves so much?
Be round thy neck a millstone tied,
And swim the sea from side to side;
Or raising both thy hands on high
Pluck sun and moon from yonder sky;
Or let the kindled flame be pressed,
Wrapt in thy garment, to thy breast;
More wild the thought that seeks to win
Ráma's dear wife who knows not sin.
The fool who thinks with idle aim
To gain the love of Ráma's dame,
With dark and desperate footing makes
His way o'er points of iron stakes.
As Ocean to a bubbling spring,
The lion to a fox, the king
Of all the birds that ply the wing
To an ignoble crow
As gold to lead of little price,
As to the drainings of the rice
The drink they quaff in Paradise,
The Amrit's heavenly flow,
As sandal dust with perfume sweet
Is to the mire that soils our feet,
A tiger to a cat,
As the white swan is to the owl,
The peacock to the waterfowl,
501The mountain which was used by the Gods as a churning stick at the
Churning of the Ocean.
Canto XLVIII. Rávan's Speech.
An eagle to a bat,
Such is my lord compared with thee;
And when with bow and arrows he,
Mighty as Indra's self shall see
His foeman, armed to slay,
Thou, death-doomed like the fly that sips
The oil that on the altar drips,
Shalt cast the morsel from thy lips
And lose thy half-won prey.”
Thus in high scorn the lady flung
The biting arrows of her tongue
In bitter words that pierced and stung
The rover of the night.
She ceased. Her gentle cheek grew pale,
Her loosened limbs began to fail,
And like a plantain in the gale
She trembled with affright.
He terrible as Death stood nigh,
And watched with fierce exulting eye
The fear that shook her frame.
To terrify the lady more,
He counted all his triumphs o'er,
Proclaimed the titles that he bore,
His pedigree and name.
Canto XLVIII. Rávan's Speech.
With knitted brow and furious eye
The stranger made his fierce reply:
“In me O fairest dame, behold
The brother of the King of Gold.
The Ramayana
The Lord of Ten Necks my title, named
Rávaṇ, for might and valour famed.
Gods and Gandharva hosts I scare;
Snakes, spirits, birds that roam the air
Fly from my coming, wild with fear,
Trembling like men when Death is near.
Vaiśravaṇ once, my brother, wrought
To ire, encountered me and fought,
But yielding to superior might
Fled from his home in sore affright.
Lord of the man-drawn chariot, still
He dwells on famed Kailása's hill.
I made the vanquished king resign
The glorious car which now is mine,—
Pushpak, the far-renowned, that flies
Will-guided through the buxom skies.
Celestial hosts by Indra led
Flee from my face disquieted,
And where my dreaded feet appear
The wind is hushed or breathless is fear.
Where'er I stand, where'er I go
The troubled waters cease to flow,
Each spell-bound wave is mute and still
And the fierce sun himself is chill.
Beyond the sea my Lanká stands
Filled with fierce forms and giant bands,
A glorious city fair to see
As Indra's Amarávatí.
A towering height of solid wall,
Flashing afar, surrounds it all,
Its golden courts enchant the sight,
And gates aglow with lazulite.
Steeds, elephants, and cars are there,
And drums' loud music fills the air,
Canto XLVIII. Rávan's Speech.
Fair trees in lovely gardens grow
Whose boughs with varied fruitage glow.
Thou, beauteous Queen, with me shalt dwell
In halls that suit a princess well,
Thy former fellows shall forget
Nor think of women with regret,
No earthly joy thy soul shall miss,
And take its fill of heavenly bliss.
Of mortal Ráma think no more,
Whose terms of days will soon be o'er.
King Daśaratha looked in scorn
On Ráma though the eldest born,
Sent to the woods the weakling fool,
And set his darling son to rule.
What, O thou large-eyed dame, hast thou
To do with fallen Ráma now,
From home and kingdom forced to fly,
A wretched hermit soon to die?
Accept thy lover, nor refuse
The giant king who fondly woos.
O listen, nor reject in scorn
A heart by Káma's arrows torn.
If thou refuse to hear my prayer,
Of grief and coming woe beware;
For the sad fate will fall on thee
Which came on hapless Urvaśí,
When with her foot she chanced to touch
Purúravas, and sorrowed much.502.
My little finger raised in fight
Were more than match for Ráma's might.
O fairest, blithe and happy be
With him whom fortune sends to thee.”
502The story will be found in GARRETT'S{FNS Classical Dictionary. See
The Ramayana
Such were the words the giant said,
And Sítá's angry eyes were red.
She answered in that lonely place
The monarch of the giant race:
“Art thou the brother of the Lord
Of Gold by all the world adored,
And sprung of that illustrious seed
Wouldst now attempt this evil deed?
I tell thee, impious Monarch, all
The giants by thy sin will fall,
Whose reckless lord and king thou art,
With foolish mind and lawless heart.
Yea, one may hope to steal the wife
Of Indra and escape with life.
But he who Ráma's dame would tear
From his loved side must needs despair.
Yea, one may steal fair Śachí, dame
Of Him who shoots the thunder flame,
May live successful in his aim
And length of day may see;
But hope, O giant King, in vain,
Though cups of Amrit thou may drain,
To shun the penalty and pain
Of wronging one like me.”
Canto XLIX. The Rape Of Sítá.
Canto XLIX. The Rape Of Sítá.
The Rákshas monarch, thus addressed,
His hands a while together pressed,
And straight before her startled eyes
Stood monstrous in his giant size.
Then to the lady, with the lore
Of eloquence, he spoke once more:
“Thou scarce,” he cried, “hast heard aright
The glories of my power and might.
I borne sublime in air can stand
And with these arms upheave the land,
Drink the deep flood of Ocean dry
And Death with conquering force defy,
Pierce the great sun with furious dart
And to her depths cleave earth apart.
See, thou whom love and beauty blind,
I wear each form as wills my mind.”
As thus he spake in burning ire
His glowing eyes were red with fire.
His gentle garb aside was thrown
And all his native shape was shown.
Terrific, monstrous, wild, and dread
As the dark God who rules the dead,
His fiery eyes in fury rolled,
His limbs were decked with glittering gold.
Like some dark cloud the monster showed,
And his fierce breast with fury glowed.
The ten-faced rover of the night,
With twenty arms exposed to sight,
His saintly guise aside had laid
And all his giant height displayed.
Attired in robes of crimson dye
He stood and watched with angry eye
The lady in her bright array
The Ramayana
Resplendent as the dawn of day
When from the east the sunbeams break,
And to the dark-haired lady spake:
“If thou would call that lord thine own
Whose fame in every world is known,
Look kindly on my love, and be
Bride of a consort meet for thee.
With me let blissful years be spent,
For ne'er thy choice shalt thou repent.
No deed of mine shall e'er displease
My darling as she lives at ease.
Thy love for mortal man resign,
And to a worthier lord incline.
Ah foolish lady, seeming wise
In thine own weak and partial eyes,
By what fair graces art thou held
To Ráma from his realm expelled?
Misfortunes all his life attend,
And his brief days are near their end.
Unworthy prince, infirm of mind!
A woman spoke and he resigned
His home and kingdom and withdrew
From troops of friends and retinue.
And sought this forest dark and dread
By savage beasts inhabited.”
Thus Rávaṇ urged the lady meet
For love, whose words were soft and sweet.
Near and more near the giant pressed
As love's hot fire inflamed his breast.
The leader of the giant crew
His arm around the lady threw:
Thus Budha503with ill-omened might
503Mercury: to be carefully distinguished from Buddha.
Canto XLIX. The Rape Of Sítá.
Steals Rohiṇí's delicious light.
One hand her glorious tresses grasped,
One with its ruthless pressure clasped
The body of his lovely prize,
The Maithil dame with lotus eyes.
The silvan Gods in wild alarm
Marked his huge teeth and ponderous arm,
And from that Death-like presence fled,
Of mountain size and towering head.
Then seen was Rávaṇ's magic car
Aglow with gold which blazed afar,—
The mighty car which asses drew
Thundering as it onward flew.
He spared not harsh rebuke to chide
The lady as she moaned and cried,
Then with his arm about her waist
His captive in the car he placed.
In vain he threatened: long and shrill
Rang out her lamentation still,
O Ráma! which no fear could stay:
But her dear lord was far away.
Then rose the fiend, and toward the skies
Bore his poor helpless struggling prize:
Hurrying through the air above
The dame who loathed his proffered love.
So might a soaring eagle bear
A serpent's consort through the air.
As on he bore her through the sky
She shrieked aloud her bitter cry.
As when some wretch's lips complain
In agony of maddening pain;
“O Lakshmaṇ, thou whose joy is still
To do thine elder brother's will,
This fiend, who all disguises wears,
The Ramayana
From Ráma's side his darling tears.
Thou who couldst leave bliss, fortune, all,
Yea life itself at duty's call,
Dost thou not see this outrage done
To hapless me, O Raghu's son?
'Tis thine, O victor of the foe,
To bring the haughtiest spirit low,
How canst thou such an outrage see
And let the guilty fiend go free?
Ah, seldom in a moment's time
Comes bitter fruit of sin and crime,
But in the day of harvest pain
Comes like the ripening of the grain.
So thou whom fate and folly lead
To ruin for this guilty deed,
Shalt die by Ráma's arm ere long
A dreadful death for hideous wrong.
Ah, too successful in their ends
Are Queen Kaikeyí and her friends,
When virtuous Ráma, dear to fame,
Is mourning for his ravished dame.
Ah me, ah me! a long farewell
To lawn and glade and forest dell
In Janasthán's wild region, where
The Cassia trees are bright and fair
With all your tongues to Ráma say
That Rávaṇ bears his wife away.
Farewell, a long farewell to thee,
O pleasant stream Godávarí,
Whose rippling waves are ever stirred
By many a glad wild water-bird!
All ye to Ráma's ear relate
The giant's deed and Sítá's fate.
O all ye Gods who love this ground
Canto XLIX. The Rape Of Sítá.
Where trees of every leaf abound,
Tell Ráma I am stolen hence,
I pray you all with reverence.
On all the living things beside
That these dark boughs and coverts hide,
Ye flocks of birds, ye troops of deer,
I call on you my prayer to hear.
All ye to Ráma's ear proclaim
That Rávaṇ tears away his dame
With forceful arms,—his darling wife,
Dearer to Ráma than his life.
O, if he knew I dwelt in hell,
My mighty lord, I know full well,
Would bring me, conqueror, back to-day,
Though Yáma's self reclaimed his prey.”
Thus from the air the lady sent
With piteous voice her last lament,
And as she wept she chanced to see
The vulture on a lofty tree.
As Rávaṇ bore her swiftly by,
On the dear bird she bent her eye,
And with a voice which woe made faint
Renewed to him her wild complaint:
“O see, the king who rules the race
Of giants, cruel, fierce and base,
Rávaṇ the spoiler bears me hence
The helpless prey of violence.
This fiend who roves in midnight shade
By thee, dear bird, can ne'er be stayed,
For he is armed and fierce and strong
Triumphant in the power to wrong.
For thee remains one only task,
The Ramayana
To do, kind friend, the thing I ask.
To Ráma's ear by thee be borne
How Sítá from her home is torn,
And to the valiant Lakshmaṇ tell
The giant's deed and what befell.”
Canto L. Jatáyus.
The vulture from his slumber woke
And heard the words which Sítá spoke
He raised his eye and looked on her,
Looked on her giant ravisher.
That noblest bird with pointed beak,
Majestic as a mountain peak,
High on the tree addressed the king
Of giants, wisely counselling:
“O Ten-necked lord, I firmly hold
To faith and laws ordained of old,
And thou, my brother, shouldst refrain
From guilty deeds that shame and stain.
The vulture king supreme in air,
Jaṭáyus is the name I bear.
Thy captive, known by Sítá's name,
Is the dear consort and the dame
Of Ráma, Daśaratha's heir
Who makes the good of all his care.
Lord of the world in might he vies
With the great Gods of seas and skies.
The law he boasts to keep allows
No king to touch another's spouse,
And, more than all, a prince's dame
Canto L. Jatáyus.
High honour and respect may claim.
Back to the earth thy way incline,
Nor think of one who is not thine.
Heroic souls should hold it shame
To stoop to deeds which others blame,
And all respect by them is shown
To dames of others as their own.
Not every case of bliss and gain
The Scripture's holy texts explain,
And subjects, when that light is dim,
Look to their prince and follow him.
The king is bliss and profit, he
Is store of treasures fair to see,
And all the people's fortunes spring,
Their joy and misery, from the king.
If, lord of giant race, thy mind
Be fickle, false, to sin inclined,
How wilt thou kingly place retain?
High thrones in heaven no sinners gain.
The soul which gentle passions sway
Ne'er throws its nobler part away,
Nor will the mansion of the base
Long be the good man's dwelling-place.
Prince Ráma, chief of high renown,
Has wronged thee not in field or town.
Ne'er has he sinned against thee: how
Canst thou resolve to harm him now?
If moved by Śúrpaṇakhá's prayer
The giant Khara sought him there,
And fighting fell with baffled aim,
His and not Ráma's is the blame.
Say, mighty lord of giants, say
What fault on Ráma canst thou lay?
What has the world's great master done
The Ramayana
That thou should steal his precious one?
Quick, quick the Maithil dame release;
Let Ráma's consort go in peace,
Lest scorched by his terrific eye
Beneath his wrath thou fall and die
Like Vritra when Lord Indra threw
The lightning flame that smote and slew.
Ah fool, with blinded eyes to take
Home to thy heart a venomed snake!
Ah foolish eyes, too blind to see
That Death's dire coils entangle thee!
The prudent man his strength will spare,
Nor lift a load too great to bear.
Content is he with wholesome food
Which gives him life and strength renewed,
But who would dare the guilty deed
That brings no fame or glorious meed,
Where merit there is none to win
And vengeance soon o'ertakes the sin?
My course of life, Pulastya's son,
For sixty thousand years has run.
Lord of my kind I still maintain
Mine old hereditary reign.
I, worn by years, am older far
Than thou, young lord of bow and car,
In coat of glittering mail encased
And armed with arrows at thy waist,
But not unchallenged shalt thou go,
Or steal the dame without a blow.
Thou canst not, King, before mine eyes
Bear off unchecked thy lovely prize,
Safe as the truth of Scripture bent
By no close logic's argument.
Stay if thy courage let thee, stay
Canto LI. The Combat.
And meet me in the battle fray,
And thou shalt stain the earth with gore
Falling as Khara fell before.
Soon Ráma, clothed in bark, shall smite
Thee, his proud foe, in deadly fight,—
Ráma, from whom have oft times fled
The Daitya hosts discomfited.
No power have I to kill or slay:
The princely youths are far away,
But soon shalt thou with fearful eye
Struck down beneath their arrows lie.
But while I yet have life and sense,
Thou shalt not, tyrant, carry hence
Fair Sítá, Ramá's honoured queen,
With lotus eyes and lovely mien.
Whate'er the pain, whate'er the cost,
Though in the struggle life be lost,
The will of Raghu's noblest son
And Daśaratha must be done.
Stay for a while, O Rávaṇ, stay,
One hour thy flying car delay,
And from that glorious chariot thou
Shalt fall like fruit from shaken bough,
For I to thee, while yet I live,
The welcome of a foe will give.”
Canto LI. The Combat.
The Ramayana
Rávaṇ's red eyes in fury rolled:
Bright with his armlets' flashing gold,
In high disdain, by passion stirred
He rushed against the sovereign bird.
With clash and din and furious blows
Of murderous battle met the foes:
Thus urged by winds two clouds on high
Meet warring in the stormy sky.
Then fierce the dreadful combat raged
As fiend and bird in war engaged,
As if two winged mountains sped
To dire encounter overhead.
Keen pointed arrows thick and fast,
In never ceasing fury cast,
Rained hurtling on the vulture king
And smote him on the breast and wing.
But still that noblest bird sustained
The cloud of shafts which Rávaṇ rained,
And with strong beak and talons bent
The body of his foeman rent.
Then wild with rage the ten-necked king
Laid ten swift arrows on his string,—
Dread as the staff of Death were they,
So terrible and keen to slay.
Straight to his ear the string he drew,
Straight to the mark the arrows flew,
And pierced by every iron head
The vulture's mangled body bled.
One glance upon the car he bent
Where Sítá wept with shrill lament,
Then heedless of his wounds and pain
Rushed at the giant king again.
Then the brave vulture with the stroke
Of his resistless talons broke
Canto LI. The Combat.
The giant's shafts and bow whereon
The fairest pearls and jewels shone.
The monster paused, by rage unmanned:
A second bow soon armed his hand,
Whence pointed arrows swift and true
In hundreds, yea in thousands, flew.
The monarch of the vultures, plied
With ceaseless darts on every side,
Showed like a bird that turns to rest
Close covered by the branch-built nest.
He shook his pinions to repel
The storm of arrows as it fell;
Then with his talons snapped in two
The mighty bow which Rávaṇ drew.
Next with terrific wing he smote
So fiercely on the giant's coat,
The harness, glittering with the glow
Of fire, gave way beneath the blow.
With storm of murderous strokes he beat
The harnessed asses strong and fleet,—
Each with a goblin's monstrous face
And plates of gold his neck to grace.
Then on the car he turned his ire,—
The will-moved car that shone like fire,
And broke the glorious chariot, broke
The golden steps and pole and yoke.
The chouris and the silken shade
Like the full moon to view displayed,
Together with the guards who held
Those emblems, to the ground he felled.
The royal vulture hovered o'er
The driver's head, and pierced and tore
With his strong beak and dreaded claws
His mangled brow and cheek and jaws.
The Ramayana
With broken car and sundered bow,
His charioteer and team laid low,
One arm about the lady wound,
Sprang the fierce giant to the ground.
Spectators of the combat, all
The spirits viewed the monster's fall:
Lauding the vulture every one
Cried with glad voice, Well done! well done!
But weak with length of days, at last
The vulture's strength was failing fast.
The fiend again assayed to bear
The lady through the fields of air.
But when the vulture saw him rise
Triumphant with his trembling prize,
Bearing the sword that still was left
When other arms were lost or cleft,
Once more, impatient of repose,
Swift from the earth her champion rose,
Hung in the way the fiend would take,
And thus addressing Rávaṇ spake:
“Thou, King of giants, rash and blind,
Wilt be the ruin of thy kind,
Stealing the wife of Ráma, him
With lightning scars on chest and limb.
A mighty host obeys his will
And troops of slaves his palace fill;
His lords of state are wise and true,
Kinsmen has he and retinue.
As thirsty travellers drain the cup,
Thou drinkest deadly poison up.
The rash and careless fool who heeds
No coming fruit of guilty deeds,
A few short years of life shall see,
And perish doomed to death like thee.
Canto LI. The Combat.
Say whither wilt thou fly to loose
Thy neck from Death's entangling noose,
Caught like the fish that finds too late
The hook beneath the treacherous bait?
Never, O King—of this be sure—
Will Raghu's fiery sons endure,
Terrific in their vengeful rage,
This insult to their hermitage.
Thy guilty hands this day have done
A deed which all reprove and shun,
Unworthly of a noble chief,
The pillage loved by coward thief.
Stay, if thy heart allow thee, stay
And meet me in the deadly fray.
Soon shall thou stain the earth with gore,
And fall as Khara fell before.
The fruits of former deeds o'erpower
The sinner in his dying hour:
And such a fate on thee, O King,
Thy tyranny and madness bring.
Not e'en the Self-existent Lord,
Who reigns by all the worlds adored,
Would dare attempt a guilty deed
Which the dire fruits of crime succeed.”
Thus brave Jaṭáyus, best of birds,
Addressed the fiend with moving words,
Then ready for the swift attack
Swooped down upon the giant's back.
Down to the bone the talons went;
With many a wound the flesh was rent:
Such blows infuriate drivers deal
Their elephants with pointed steel.
Fixed in his back the strong beak lay,
The Ramayana
The talons stripped the flesh away.
He fought with claws and beak and wing,
And tore the long hair of the king.
Still as the royal vulture beat
The giant with his wings and feet,
Swelled the fiend's lips, his body shook
With furious rage too great to brook.
About the Maithil dame he cast
One huge left arm and held her fast.
In furious rage to frenzy fanned
He struck the vulture with his hand.
Jatáyus mocked the vain assay,
And rent his ten left arms away.
Down dropped the severed limbs: anew
Ten others from his body grew:
Thus bright with pearly radiance glide
Dread serpents from the hillock side,
Again in wrath the giant pressed
The lady closer to his breast,
And foot and fist sent blow on blow
In ceaseless fury at the foe.
So fierce and dire the battle, waged
Between those mighty champions, raged:
Here was the lord of giants, there
The noblest of the birds of air.
Thus, as his love of Ráma taught,
The faithful vulture strove and fought.
But Rávaṇ seized his sword and smote
His wings and side and feet and throat.
At mangled side and wing he bled;
He fell, and life was almost fled.
The lady saw her champion lie,
His plumes distained with gory dye,
And hastened to the vulture's side
Canto LII. Rávan's Flight.
Grieving as though a kinsman died.
The lord of Lanká's island viewed
The vulture as he lay:
Whose back like some dark cloud was hued,
His breast a paly grey,
Like ashes, when by none renewed,
The flame has died away.
The lady saw with mournful eye,
Her champion press the plain,—
The royal bird, her true ally
Whom Rávaṇ's might had slain.
Her soft arms locked in strict embrace
Around his neck she kept,
And lovely with her moon-bright face
Bent o'er her friend and wept.
Canto LII. Rávan's Flight.
Fair as the lord of silvery rays
Whom every star in heaven obeys,
The Maithil dame her plaint renewed
O'er him by Rávaṇ's might subdued:
“Dreams, omens, auguries foreshow
Our coming lot of weal and woe:
But thou, my Ráma, couldst not see
The grievous blow which falls on thee.
The birds and deer desert the brakes
And show the path my captor takes,
And thus e'en now this royal bird
Flew to mine aid by pity stirred.
Slain for my sake in death he lies,
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The broad-winged rover of the skies.
O Ráma, haste, thine aid I crave:
O Lakshmaṇ, why delay to save?
Brave sons of old Ikshváku, hear
And rescue in this hour of fear.”
Her flowery wreath was torn and rent,
Crushed was each sparkling ornament.
She with weak arms and trembling knees
Clung like a creeper to the trees,
And like some poor deserted thing
With wild shrieks made the forest ring.
But swift the giant reached her side,
As loud on Ráma's name she cried.
Fierce as grim Death one hand he laid
Upon her tresses' lovely braid.
“That touch, thou impious King, shall be
The ruin of thy race and thee.”
The universal world in awe
That outrage on the lady saw,
All nature shook convulsed with dread,
And darkness o'er the land was spread.
The Lord of Day grew dark and chill,
And every breath of air was still.
The Eternal Father of the sky
Beheld the crime with heavenly eye,
And spake with solemn voice, “The deed,
The deed is done, of old decreed.”
Sad were the saints within the grove,
But triumph with their sorrow strove.
They wept to see the Maithil dame
Endure the outrage, scorn, and shame:
They joyed because his life should pay
The penalty incurred that day.
Canto LII. Rávan's Flight.
Then Rávaṇ raised her up, and bare
His captive through the fields of air,
Calling with accents loud and shrill
On Ráma and on Lakshmaṇ still.
With sparkling gems on arm and breast,
In silk of paly amber dressed,
High in the air the Maithil dame
Gleamed like the lightning's flashing flame.
The giant, as the breezes blew
Upon her robes of amber hue,
And round him twined that gay attire,
Showed like a mountain girt with fire.
The lady, fairest of the fair,
Had wreathed a garland round her hair;
Its lotus petals bright and sweet
Rained down about the giant's feet.
Her vesture, bright as burning gold,
Gave to the wind each glittering fold,
Fair as a gilded cloud that gleams
Touched by the Day-God's tempered beams.
Yet struggling in the fiend's embrace,
The lady with her sweet pure face,
Far from her lord, no longer wore
The light of joy that shone before.
Like some sad lily by the side
Of waters which the sun has dried;
Like the pale moon uprising through
An autumn cloud of darkest hue,
So was her perfect face between
The arms of giant Rávaṇ seen:
Fair with the charm of braided tress
And forehead's finished loveliness;
Fair with the ivory teeth that shed
White lustre through the lips' fine red,
The Ramayana
Fair as the lotus when the bud
Is rising from the parent flood.
With faultless lip and nose and eye,
Dear as the moon that floods the sky
With gentle light, of perfect mould,
She seemed a thing of burnished gold,
Though on her cheek the traces lay
Of tears her hand had brushed away.
But as the moon-beams swiftly fade
Ere the great Day-God shines displayed,
So in that form of perfect grace
Still trembling in the fiend's embrace,
From her beloved Ráma reft,
No light of pride or joy was left.
The lady with her golden hue
O'er the swart fiend a lustre threw,
As when embroidered girths enfold
An elephant with gleams of gold.
Fair as the lily's bending stem,—
Her arms adorned with many a gem,
A lustre to the fiend she lent
Gleaming from every ornament,
As when the cloud-shot flashes light
The shadows of a mountain height.
Whene'er the breezes earthward bore
The tinkling of the zone she wore,
He seemed a cloud of darkness hue
Sending forth murmurs as it flew.
As on her way the dame was sped
From her sweet neck fair flowers were shed,
The swift wind caught the flowery rain
And poured it o'er the fiend again.
The wind-stirred blossoms, sweet to smell,
On the dark brows of Rávaṇ fell,
Canto LII. Rávan's Flight.
Like lunar constellations set
On Meru for a coronet.
From her small foot an anklet fair
With jewels slipped, and through the air,
Like a bright circlet of the flame
Of thunder, to the valley came.
The Maithil lady, fair to see
As the young leaflet of a tree
Clad in the tender hues of spring,
Flashed glory on the giant king,
As when a gold-embroidered zone
Around an elephant is thrown.
While, bearing far the lady, through
The realms of sky the giant flew,
She like a gleaming meteor cast
A glory round her as she passed.
Then from each limb in swift descent
Dropped many a sparkling ornament:
On earth they rested dim and pale
Like fallen stars when virtues fail.504
Around her neck a garland lay
Bright as the Star-God's silvery ray:
It fell and flashed like Gangá sent
From heaven above the firmament.505
The birds of every wing had flocked
To stately trees by breezes rocked:
These bowed their wind-swept heads and said:
“My lady sweet, be comforted.”
With faded blooms each brook within
Whose waters moved no gleamy fin,
Stole sadly through the forest dell
504The spirits of the good dwell in heaven until their store of accumulated
merit is exhausted. Then they redescend to earth in the form of falling stars.
505See The Descent of Gangá, Book I Canto XLIV.
The Ramayana
Mourning the dame it loved so well.
From every woodland region near
Came lions, tigers, birds, and deer,
And followed, each with furious look,
The way her flying shadow took.
For Sítá's loss each lofty hill
Whose tears were waterfall, and rill,
Lifting on high each arm-like steep,
Seemed in the general woe to weep.
When the great sun, the lord of day,
Saw Rávaṇ tear the dame away,
His glorious light began to fail
And all his disk grew cold and pale.
“If Rávaṇ from the forest flies
With Ráma's Sítá as his prize,
Justice and truth have vanished hence,
Honour and right and innocence.”
Thus rose the cry of wild despair
From spirits as they gathered there.
In trembling troops in open lawns
Wept, wild with woe, the startled fawns,
And a strange terror changed the eyes
They lifted to the distant skies.
On silvan Gods who love the dell
A sudden fear and trembling fell,
As in the deepest woe they viewed
The lady by the fiend subdued.
Still in loud shrieks was heard afar
That voice whose sweetness naught could mar,
While eager looks of fear and woe
She bent upon the earth below.
The lady of each winning wile
With pearly teeth and lovely smile,
Seized by the lord of Lanká's isle,
Canto LIII. Sítá's Threats.
Looked down for friends in vain.
She saw no friend to aid her, none,
Not Ráma nor the younger son
Of Daśaratha, and undone
She swooned with fear and pain.
Canto LIII. Sítá's Threats.
Soon as the Maithil lady knew
That high through air the giant flew,
Distressed with grief and sore afraid
Her troubled spirit sank dismayed.
Then, as anew the waters welled
From those red eyes which sorrow swelled,
Forth in keen words her passion broke,
And to the fierce-eyed fiend she spoke:
“Canst thou attempt a deed so base,
Untroubled by the deep disgrace,—
To steal me from my home and fly,
When friend or guardian none was nigh?
Thy craven soul that longed to steal,
Fearing the blows that warriors deal,
Upon a magic deer relied
To lure my husband from my side,
Friend of his sire, the vulture king
Lies low on earth with mangled wing,
Who gave his aged life for me
And died for her he sought to free.
Ah, glorious strength indeed is thine,
Thou meanest of thy giant line,
Whose courage dared to tell thy name
The Ramayana
And conquer in the fight a dame.
Does the vile deed that thou hast done
Cause thee no shame, thou wicked one—
A woman from her home to rend
When none was near his aid to lend?
Through all the worlds, O giant King,
The tidings of this deed will ring,
This deed in law and honour's spite
By one who claims a hero's might.
Shame on thy boasted valour, shame!
Thy prowess is an empty name.
Shame, giant, on this cursed deed
For which thy race is doomed to bleed!
Thou fliest swifter than the gale,
For what can strength like thine avail?
Stay for one hour, O Rávaṇ, stay;
Thou shalt not flee with life away.
Soon as the royal chieftains' sight
Falls on the thief who roams by night,
Thou wilt not, tyrant, live one hour
Though backed by all thy legions' power.
Ne'er can thy puny strength sustain
The tempest of their arrowy rain:
Have e'er the trembling birds withstood
The wild flames raging in the wood?
Hear me, O Rávaṇ, let me go,
And save thy soul from coming woe.
Or if thou wilt not set me free,
Wroth for this insult done to me.
With his brave brother's aid my lord
Against thy life will raise his sword.
A guilty hope inflames thy breast
His wife from Ráma's home to wrest.
Ah fool, the hope thou hast is vain;
Canto LIII. Sítá's Threats.
Thy dreams of bliss shall end in pain.
If torn from all I love by thee
My godlike lord no more I see,
Soon will I die and end my woes,
Nor live the captive of my foes.
Ah fool, with blinded eyes to choose
The evil and the good refuse!
So the sick wretch with stubborn will
Turns fondly to the cates that kill,
And madly draws his lips away
From medicine that would check decay.
About thy neck securely wound
The deadly coil of Fate is bound,
And thou, O Rávaṇ, dost not fear
Although the hour of death is near.
With death-doomed sight thine eyes behold
The gleaming of the trees of gold,—
See dread Vaitaraṇi, the flood
That rolls a stream of foamy blood,—
See the dark wood by all abhorred—
Its every leaf a threatening sword.
The tangled thickets thou shall tread
Where thorns with iron points are spread.
For never can thy days be long,
Base plotter of this shame and wrong
To Ráma of the lofty soul:
He dies who drinks the poisoned bowl.
The coils of death around thee lie:
They hold thee and thou canst not fly.
Ah whither, tyrant, wouldst thou run
The vengeance of my lord to shun?
By his unaided arm alone
Were twice seven thousand fiends o'erthrown:
Yes, in the twinkling of an eye
The Ramayana
He forced thy mightiest fiends to die.
And shall that lord of lion heart,
Skilled in the bow and spear and dart,
Spare thee, O fiend, in battle strife,
The robber of his darling wife?”
These were her words, and more beside,
By wrath and bitter hate supplied.
Then by her woe and fear o'erthrown
She wept again and made her moan.
As long she wept in grief and dread,
Scarce conscious of the words she said,
The wicked giant onward fled
And bore her through the air.
As firm he held the Maithil dame,
Still wildly struggling, o'er her frame
With grief and bitter misery came
The trembling of despair.
Canto LIV. Lanká.
He bore her on in rapid flight,
And not a friend appeared in sight.
But on a hill that o'er the wood
Raised its high top five monkeys stood.
From her fair neck her scarf she drew,
And down the glittering vesture flew.
With earring, necklet, chain, and gem,
Descending in the midst of them:
“For these,” she thought, “my path may show,
And tell my lord the way I go.”
Canto LIV. Lanká.
Nor did the fiend, in wild alarm,
Mark when she drew from neck and arm
And foot the gems and gold, and sent
To earth each gleaming ornament.
The monkeys raised their tawny eyes
That closed not in their first surprise,
And saw the dark-eyed lady, where
She shrieked above them in the air.
High o'er their heads the giant passed
Holding the weeping lady fast.
O'er Pampa's flashing flood he sped
And on to Lanká's city fled.
He bore away in senseless joy
The prize that should his life destroy,
Like the rash fool who hugs beneath
His robe a snake with venomed teeth.
Swift as an arrow from a bow,
Speeding o'er lands that lay below,
Sublime in air his course he took
O'er wood and rock and lake and brook.
He passed at length the sounding sea
Where monstrous creatures wander free,—
Seat of Lord Varuṇ's ancient reign,
Controller of the eternal main.
The angry waves were raised and tossed
As Rávaṇ with the lady crossed,
And fish and snake in wild unrest
Showed flashing fin and gleaming crest.
Then from the blessed troops who dwell
In air celestial voices fell:
“O ten-necked King,” they cried, “attend:
This guilty deed will bring thine end.”
The Ramayana
Then Rávaṇ speeding like the storm,
Bearing his death in human form,
The struggling Sítá, lighted down
In royal Lanká's glorious town;
A city bright and rich, that showed
Well-ordered street and noble road;
Arranged with just division, fair
With multitudes in court and square.
Thus, all his journey done, he passed
Within his royal home at last.
There in a queenly bower he placed
The black-eyed dame with dainty waist:
Thus in her chamber Máyá laid
The lovely Máyá, demon maid.
Then Rávaṇ gave command to all
The dread she-fiends who filled the hall:
“This captive lady watch and guard
From sight of man and woman barred.
But all the fair one asks beside
Be with unsparing hand supplied:
As though 'twere I that asked, withhold
No pearls or dress or gems or gold.
And she among you that shall dare
Of purpose or through want of care
One word to vex her soul to say,
Throws her unvalued life away.”
Thus spake the monarch of their race
To those she-fiends who thronged the place,
And pondering on the course to take
Went from the chamber as he spake.
He saw eight giants, strong and dread,
On flesh of bleeding victims fed,
Proud in the boon which Brahmá gave,
Canto LIV. Lanká.
And trusting in its power to save.
He thus the mighty chiefs addressed
Of glorious power and strength possessed:
“Arm, warriors, with the spear and bow;
With all your speed from Lanká go,
For Janasthán, our own no more,
Is now defiled with giants' gore;
The seat of Khara's royal state
Is left unto us desolate.
In your brave hearts and might confide,
And cast ignoble fear aside.
Go, in that desert region dwell
Where the fierce giants fought and fell.
A glorious host that region held,
For power and might unparalleled,
By Dúshaṇ and brave Khara led,—
All, slain by Ráma's arrows, bled.
Hence boundless wrath that spurns control
Reigns paramount within my soul,
And naught but Ráma's death can sate
The fury of my vengeful hate.
I will not close my slumbering eyes
Till by this hand my foeman dies.
And when mine arm has slain the foe
Who laid those giant princes low,
Long will I triumph in the deed,
Like one enriched in utmost need.
Now go; that I this end may gain,
In Janasthán, O chiefs, remain.
Watch Ráma there with keenest eye,
And all his deeds and movements spy.
Go forth, no helping art neglect,
Be brave and prompt and circumspect,
And be your one endeavour still
The Ramayana
To aid mine arm this foe to kill.
Oft have I seen your warrior might
Proved in the forehead of the fight,
And sure of strength I know so well
Send you in Janasthán to dwell.”
The giants heard with prompt assent
The pleasant words he said,
And each before his master bent
For meet salute, his head.
Then as he bade, without delay,
From Lanká's gate they passed,
And hurried forward on their way
Invisible and fast.
Canto LV. Sítá In Prison.
Thus Rávaṇ his commandment gave
To those eight giants strong and brave,
So thinking in his foolish pride
Against all dangers to provide.
Then with his wounded heart aflame
With love he thought upon the dame,
And took with hasty steps the way
To the fair chamber where she lay.
He saw the gentle lady there
Weighed down by woe too great to bear,
Amid the throng of fiends who kept
Their watch around her as she wept:
A pinnace sinking neath the wave
When mighty winds around her rave:
A lonely herd-forsaken deer,
Canto LV. Sítá In Prison.
When hungry dogs are pressing near.
Within the bower the giant passed:
Her mournful looks were downward cast.
As there she lay with streaming eyes
The giant bade the lady rise,
And to the shrinking captive showed
The glories of his rich abode,
Where thousand women spent their days
In palaces with gold ablaze;
Where wandered birds of every sort,
And jewels flashed in hall and court.
Where noble pillars charmed the sight
With diamond and lazulite,
And others glorious to behold
With ivory, crystal, silver, gold.
There swelled on high the tambour's sound,
And burnished ore was bright around
He led the mournful lady where
Resplendent gold adorned the stair,
And showed each lattice fair to see
With silver work and ivory:
Showed his bright chambers, line on line,
Adorned with nets of golden twine.
Beyond he showed the Maithil dame
His gardens bright as lightning's flame,
And many a pool and lake he showed
Where blooms of gayest colour glowed.
Through all his home from view to view
The lady sunk in grief he drew.
Then trusting in her heart to wake
Desire of all she saw, he spake:
“Three hundred million giants, all
Obedient to their master's call,
Not counting young and weak and old,
The Ramayana
Serve me with spirits fierce and bold.
A thousand culled from all of these
Wait on the lord they long to please.
This glorious power, this pomp and sway,
Dear lady, at thy feet I lay:
Yea, with my life I give the whole,
O dearer than my life and soul.
A thousand beauties fill my hall:
Be thou my wife and rule them all.
O hear my supplication! why
This reasonable prayer deny?
Some pity to thy suitor show,
For love's hot flames within me glow.
This isle a hundred leagues in length,
Encompassed by the ocean's strength,
Would all the Gods and fiends defy
Though led by Him who rules the sky.
No God in heaven, no sage on earth,
No minstrel of celestial birth,
No spirit in the worlds I see
A match in power and might for me.
What wilt thou do with Ráma, him
Whose days are short, whose light is dim,
Expelled from home and royal sway,
Who treads on foot his weary way?
Leave the poor mortal to his fate,
And wed thee with a worthier mate.
My timid love, enjoy with me
The prime of youth before it flee.
Do not one hour the hope retain
To look on Ráma's face again.
For whom would wildest thought beguile
To seek thee in the giants' isle?
Say who is he has power to bind
Canto LV. Sítá In Prison.
In toils of net the rushing wind.
Whose is the mighty hand will tame
And hold the glory of the flame?
In all the worlds above, below,
Not one, O fair of form, I know
Who from this isle in fight could rend
The lady whom these arms defend.
Fair Queen, o'er Lanká's island reign,
Sole mistress of the wide domain.
Gods, rovers of the night like me,
And all the world thy slaves will be.
O'er thy fair brows and queenly head
Let consecrating balm be shed,
And sorrow banished from thy breast,
Enjoy my love and take thy rest.
Here never more thy soul shall know
The memory of thy former woe,
And here shall thou enjoy the meed
Deserved by every virtuous deed.
Here garlands glow of flowery twine,
With gorgeous hues and scent divine.
Take gold and gems and rich attire:
Enjoy with me thy heart's desire.
There stand, of chariots far the best,
The car my brother once possessed.
Which, victor in the stricken field,
I forced the Lord of Gold to yield.
'Tis wide and high and nobly wrought,
Bright as the sun and swift as thought.
Therein O Sítá, shalt thou ride
Delighted by thy lover's side.
But sorrow mars with lingering trace
The splendour of thy lotus face.
A cloud of woe is o'er it spread,
The Ramayana
And all the light of joy is fled.”
The lady, by her woe distressed,
One corner of her raiment pressed
To her sad cheek like moonlight clear,
And wiped away a falling tear.
The rover of the night renewed
His eager pleading as he viewed
The lady stand like one distraught,
Striving to fix her wandering thought:
“Think not, sweet lady, of the shame
Of broken vows, nor fear the blame.
The saints approve with favouring eyes
This union knit with marriage ties.
O beauty, at thy radiant feet
I lay my heads, and thus entreat.
One word of grace, one look I crave:
Have pity on thy prostrate slave.
These idle words I speak are vain,
Wrung forth by love's consuming pain,
And ne'er of Rávaṇ be it said
He wooed a dame with prostrate head.”
Thus to the Maithil lady sued
The monarch of the giant brood,
And “She is now mine own,” he thought,
In Death's dire coils already caught.
Canto LVI. Sítá's Disdain.
Canto LVI. Sítá's Disdain.
His words the Maithil lady heard
Oppressed by woe but undeterred.
Fear of the fiend she cast aside,
And thus in noble scorn replied:
“His word of honour never stained
King Daśaratha nobly reigned,
The bridge of right, the friend of truth.
His eldest son, a noble youth,
Is Ráma, virtue's faithful friend,
Whose glories through the worlds extend.
Long arms and large full eyes has he,
My husband, yea a God to me.
With shoulders like the forest king's,
From old Ikshváku's line he springs.
He with his brother Lakshmaṇ's aid
Will smite thee with the vengeful blade.
Hadst thou but dared before his eyes
To lay thine hand upon the prize,
Thou stretched before his feet hadst lain
In Janasthán like Khara slain.
Thy boasted rovers of the night
With hideous shapes and giant might,—
Like serpents when the feathered king
Swoops down with his tremendous wing,—
Will find their useless venom fail
When Ráma's mighty arms assail.
The rapid arrows bright with gold,
Shot from the bow he loves to hold,
Will rend thy frame from flank to flank
As Gangá's waves erode the bank.
Though neither God nor fiend have power
To slay thee in the battle hour,
The Ramayana
Yet from his hand shall come thy fate,
Struck down before his vengeful hate.
That mighty lord will strike and end
The days of life thou hast to spend.
Thy days are doomed, thy life is sped
Like victims to the pillar led.
Yea, if the glance of Ráma bright
With fury on thy form should light,
Thou scorched this day wouldst fall and die
Like Káma slain by Rudra's eye.506
He who from heaven the moon could throw,
Or bid its bright rays cease to glow,—
He who could drain the mighty sea
Will set his darling Sítá free.
Fled is thy life, thy glory, fled
Thy strength and power: each sense is dead.
Soon Lanká widowed by thy guilt
Will see the blood of giants spilt.
This wicked deed, O cruel King,
No triumph, no delight will bring.
Thou with outrageous might and scorn
A woman from her lord hast torn.
My glorious husband far away,
Making heroic strength his stay,
Dwells with his brother, void of fear,
In Daṇḍak forest lone and drear.
No more in force of arms confide:
That haughty strength, that power and pride
My hero with his arrowy rain
From all thy bleeding limbs will drain.
When urged by fate's dire mandate, nigh
Comes the fixt hour for men to die.
506See Book I Canto XXV.
Canto LVI. Sítá's Disdain.
Caught in Death's toils their eyes are blind,
And folly takes each wandering mind.
So for the outrage thou hast done
The fate is near thou canst not shun,—
The fate that on thyself and all
Thy giants and thy town shall fall.
I spurn thee: can the altar dight
With vessels for the sacred rite,
O'er which the priest his prayer has said,
Be sullied by an outcaste's tread?
So me, the consort dear and true
Of him who clings to virtue too,
Thy hated touch shall ne'er defile,
Base tyrant lord of Lanká's isle.
Can the white swan who floats in pride
Through lilies by her consort's side,
Look for one moment, as they pass,
On the poor diver in the grass?
This senseless body waits thy will,
To torture, chain, to wound or kill.
I will not, King of giants, strive
To keep this fleeting soul alive
But never shall they join the name
Of Sítá with reproach and shame.”
Thus as her breast with fury burned
Her bitter speech the dame returned.
Such words of rage and scorn, the last
She uttered, at the fiend she cast.
Her taunting speech the giant heard,
And every hair with anger stirred.
Then thus with fury in his eye
He made in threats his fierce reply:
“Hear Maithil lady, hear my speech:
The Ramayana
List to my words and ponder each.
If o'er thy head twelve months shall fly
And thou thy love wilt still deny,
My cooks shall mince thy flesh with steel
And serve it for my morning meal.”
Thus with terrific threats to her
Spake Rávaṇ, cruel ravener.
Mad with the rage her answer woke
He called the fiendish train and spoke:
“Take her, ye Rákshas dames, who fright
With hideous form and mien the sight,
Who make the flesh of men your food,—
And let her pride be soon subdued.”
He spoke, and at his word the band
Of fiendish monsters raised each hand
In reverence to the giant king,
And pressed round Sítá in a ring.
Rávaṇ once more with stern behest
To those she-fiends his speech addressed:
Shaking the earth beneath his tread,
He stamped his furious foot and said:
“To the Aśoka garden bear
The dame, and guard her safely there
Until her stubborn pride be bent
By mingled threat and blandishment.
See that ye watch her well, and tame,
Like some she-elephant, the dame.”
Canto LVII. Sítá Comforted.
They led her to that garden where
The sweetest flowers perfumed the air,
Where bright trees bore each rarest fruit,
And birds, enamoured, ne'er were mute.
Bowed down with terror and distress,
Watched by each cruel giantess,—
Like a poor solitary deer
When ravening tigresses are near,—
The hapless lady lay distraught
Like some wild thing but newly caught,
And found no solace, no relief
From agonizing fear and grief;
Not for one moment could forget
Each terrifying word and threat,
Or the fierce eyes upon her set
By those who watched around.
She thought of Ráma far away,
She mourned for Lakshmaṇ as she lay
In grief and terror and dismay
Half fainting on the ground.
Canto LVII. Sítá Comforted.
Soon as the fiend had set her down
Within his home in Lanká's town
Triumph and joy filled Indra's breast,
Whom thus the Eternal Sire addressed:
The Ramayana
“This deed will free the worlds from woe
And cause the giants' overthrow.
The fiend has borne to Lanká's isle
The lady of the lovely smile,
True consort born to happy fate
With features fair and delicate.
She looks and longs for Ráma's face,
But sees a crowd of demon race,
And guarded by the giant's train
Pines for her lord and weeps in vain.
But Lanká founded on a steep
Is girdled by the mighty deep,
And how will Ráma know his fair
And blameless wife is prisoned there?
She on her woe will sadly brood
And pine away in solitude,
And heedless of herself, will cease
To live, despairing of release.
Yes, pondering on her fate, I see
Her gentle life in jeopardy.
Go, Indra, swiftly seek the place,
And look upon her lovely face.
Within the city make thy way:
Let heavenly food her spirit stay.”
Thus Brahma spake: and He who slew
The cruel demon Páka, flew
Where Lanká's royal city lay,
And Sleep went with him on his way.
“Sleep,” cried the heavenly Monarch, “close
Each giant's eye in deep repose.”
Canto LVII. Sítá Comforted.
Thus Indra spoke, and Sleep fulfilled
With joy his mandate, as he willed,
To aid the plan the Gods proposed,
The demons' eyes in sleep she closed.
Then Śachí's lord, the Thousand-eyed,
To the Aśoka garden hied.
He came and stood where Sítá lay,
And gently thus began to say:
“Lord of the Gods who hold the sky,
Dame of the lovely smile, am I.
Weep no more, lady, weep no more;
Thy days of woe will soon be o'er.
I come, O Janak's child, to be
The helper of thy lord and thee.
He through my grace, with hosts to aid,
This sea-girt land will soon invade.
'Tis by my art that slumbers close
The eyelids of thy giant foes.
Now I, with Sleep, this place have sought,
Videhan lady, and have brought
A gift of heaven's ambrosial food
To stay thee in thy solitude.
Receive it from my hand, and taste,
O lady of the dainty waist:
For countless ages thou shall be
From pangs of thirst and hunger free.”
But doubt within her bosom woke
As to the Lord of Gods she spoke:
“How may I know for truth that thou
Whose form I see before me now
Art verily the King adored
By heavenly Gods, and Śachí's lord?
With Raghu's sons I learnt to know
The Ramayana
The certain signs which Godhead show.
These marks before mine eyes display
If o'er the Gods thou bear the sway.”
The heavenly lord of Śachí heard,
And did according to her word.
Above the ground his feet were raised;
With eyelids motionless he gazed.
No dust upon his raiment lay,
And his bright wreath was fresh and gay.
Nor was the lady's glad heart slow
The Monarch of the Gods to know,
And while the tears unceasing ran
From her sweet eyes she thus began:
“My lord has gained a friend in thee,
And I this day thy presence see
Shown clearly to mine eyes, as when
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ, lords of men,
Beheld it, and their sire the king,
And Janak too from whom I spring.
Now I, O Monarch of the Blest,
Will eat this food at thy behest,
Which thou hast brought me, of thy grace,
To aid and strengthen Raghu's race.”
She spoke, and by his words relieved,
The food from Indra's hand received,
Yet ere she ate the balm he brought,
On Lakshmaṇ and her lord she thought.
“If my brave lord be still alive,
If valiant Lakshmaṇ yet survive,
May this my taste of heavenly food
Bring health to them and bliss renewed!”
She ate, and that celestial food
Canto LVIII. The Brothers' Meeting.
Stayed hunger, thirst, and lassitude,
And all her strength restored.
Great joy her hopeful spirit stirred
At the glad tidings newly heard
Of Lakshmaṇ and her lord.
And Indra's heart was joyful too:
He bade the Maithil dame adieu,
His saving errand done.
With Sleep beside him parting thence
He sought his heavenly residence
To prosper Raghu's son.
Canto LVIII. The Brothers' Meeting.
When Ráma's deadly shaft had struck
The giant in the seeming buck,
The chieftain turned him from the place
His homeward way again to trace.
Then as he hastened onward, fain
To look upon his spouse again,
Behind him from a thicket nigh
Rang out a jackal's piercing cry.
Alarmed he heard the startling shriek
That raised his hair and dimmed his cheek,
And all his heart was filled with doubt
As the shrill jackal's cry rang out:
“Alas, some dire disaster seems
Portended by the jackal's screams.
O may the Maithil dame be screened
From outrage of each hungry fiend!
The Ramayana
Alas, if Lakshmaṇ chanced to hear
That bitter cry of woe and fear
What time Márícha, as he died,
With voice that mocked my accents cried,
Swift to my side the prince would flee
And quit the dame to succour me.
Too well I see the demon band
The slaughter of my love have planned.
Me far from home and Sítá's view
The seeming deer Márícha drew.
He led me far through brake and dell
Till wounded by my shaft he fell,
And as he sank rang out his cry,
“O save me, Lakshmaṇ, or I die.”
May it be well with both who stayed
In the great wood with none to aid,
For every fiend is now my foe
For Janasthán's great overthrow,
And many an omen seen to-day
Has filled my heart with sore dismay.”
Such were the thoughts and sad surmise
Of Ráma at the jackal's cries,
And all his heart within him burned
As to his cot his steps he turned.
He pondered on the deer that led
His feet to follow where it fled,
And sad with many a bitter thought
His home in Janasthán he sought.
His soul was dark with woe and fear
When flocks of birds and troops of deer
Move round him from the left, and raised
Discordant voices as they gazed.
The omens which the chieftain viewed
Canto LVIII. The Brothers' Meeting.
The terror of his soul renewed,
When lo, to meet him Lakshmaṇ sped
With brows whence all the light had fled.
Near and more near the princes came,
Each brother's heart and look the same;
Alike on each sad visage lay
The signs of misery and dismay,
Then Ráma by his terror moved
His brother for his fault reproved
In leaving Sítá far from aid
In the wild wood where giants strayed.
Lakshmaṇ's left hand he took, and then
In gentle tones the prince of men,
Though sharp and fierce their tenour ran,
Thus to his brother chief began:
“O Lakshmaṇ, thou art much to blame
Leaving alone the Maithil dame,
And flying hither to my side:
O, may no ill my spouse betide!
But ah, I know my wife is dead,
And giants on her limbs have fed,
So strange, so terrible are all
The omens which my heart appal.
O Lakshmaṇ, may we yet return
The safety of my love to learn.
To find the child of Janak still
Alive and free from scathe and ill!
Each bird with notes of warning screams,
Though the hot sun still darts his beams.
The moan of deer, the jackal's yell
Of some o'erwhelming misery tell.
O mighty brother, still may she,
My princess, live from danger free!
The Ramayana
That semblance of a golden deer
Allured me far away,
I followed nearer and more near,
And longed to take the prey.
I followed where the quarry fled:
My deadly arrow flew,
And as the dying creature bled,
The giant met my view.
Great fear and pain oppress my heart
That dreads the coming blow,
And through my left eye keenly dart
The throbs that herald woe.
Ah Lakshmaṇ, all these signs dismay,
My soul that sinks with dread,
I know my love is torn away,
Or, haply, she is dead.”
Canto LIX. Ráma's Return.
When Ráma saw his brother stand
With none beside him, all unmanned,
Eager he questioned why he came
So far without the Maithil dame:
“Where is my wife, my darling, she
Who to the wild wood followed me?
Where hast thou left my lady, where
The dame who chose my lot to share?
Where is my love who balms my woe
As through the forest wilds I go,
Unkinged and banished and disgraced,—
My darling of the dainty waist?
Canto LIX. Ráma's Return.
She nerves my spirit for the strife,
She, only she gives zest to life,
Dear as my breath is she who vies
In charms with daughters of the skies.
If Janak's child be mine no more,
In splendour fair as virgin ore,
The lordship of the skies and earth
To me were prize of little worth.
Ah, lives she yet, the Maithil dame,
Dear as the soul within this frame?
O, let not all my toil be vain,
The banishment, the woe and pain!
O, let not dark Kaikeyí win
The guerdon of her treacherous sin,
If, Sítá lost, my days I end,
And thou without me homeward wend!
O, let not good Kauśalyá shed
Her bitter tears to mourn me dead,
Nor her proud rival's hest obey,
Strong in her son and queenly sway!
Back to my cot will I repair
If Sítá live to greet me there,
But if my wife have perished, I
Reft of my love will surely die.
O Lakshmaṇ, if I seek my cot,
Look for my love and find her not
Sweet welcome with her smile to give,
I tell thee, I will cease to live.
O answer,—let thy words be plain,—
Lives Sítá yet, or is she slain?
Didst thou thy sacred trust betray
Till ravening giants seized the prey?
Ah me, so young, so soft and fair,
Lapped in all bliss, untried by care,
The Ramayana
Rent from her own dear husband, how
Will she support her misery now?
That voice, O Lakshmaṇ smote thine ear,
And filled, I ween, thy heart with fear,
When on thy name for succour cried
The treacherous giant ere he died.
That voice too like mine own, I ween,
Was heard by the Videhan queen.
She bade thee seek my side to aid,
And quickly was the hest obeyed,
But ah, thy fault I needs must blame,
To leave alone the helpless dame,
And let the cruel giants sate
The fury of their murderous hate.
Those blood-devouring demons all
Grieve in their souls for Khara's fall,
And Sítá, none to guard her side,
Torn by their cruel hands has died.
I sink, O tamer of thy foes,
Deep in the sea of whelming woes.
What can I now? I must endure
The mighty grief that mocks at cure.”
Thus, all his thoughts on Sítá bent,
To Janasthán the chieftain went,
Hastening on with eager stride,
And Lakshmaṇ hurried by his side.
With toil and thirst and hunger worn,
His breast with doubt and anguish torn,
He sought the well-known spot.
Again, again he turned to chide
With quivering lips which terror dried:
He looked, and found her not.
Within his leafy home he sped,
Canto LX. Lakshman Reproved.
Each pleasant spot he visited
Where oft his darling strayed.
“'Tis as I feared,” he cried, and there,
Yielding to pangs too great to bear,
He sank by grief dismayed.
Canto LX. Lakshman Reproved.
But Ráma ceased not to upbraid,
His brother for untimely aid,
And thus, while anguish wrung his breast,
The chief with eager question pressed:
“Why, Lakshmaṇ, didst thou hurry hence
And leave my wife without defence?
I left her in the wood with thee,
And deemed her safe from jeopardy.
When first thy form appeared in view,
I marked that Sítá came not too.
With woe my troubled soul was rent,
Prophetic of the dire event.
Thy coming steps afar I spied,
I saw no Sítá by thy side,
And felt a sudden throbbing dart
Through my left eye, and arm, and heart.”
The Ramayana
Lakshmaṇ, with Fortune's marks impressed,
His brother mournfully addressed:
“Not by my heart's free impulse led,
Leaving thy wife to thee I sped;
But by her keen reproaches sent,
O Ráma, to thine aid I went.
She heard afar a mournful cry,
“O save me, Lakshmaṇ, or I die.”
The voice that spoke in moving tone
Smote on her ear and seemed thine own.
Soon as those accents reached her ear
She yielded to her woe and fear,
She wept o'ercome by grief, and cried,
“Fly, Lakshmaṇ, fly to Ráma's side.”
Though many a time she bade me speed,
Her urgent prayer I would not heed.
I bade her in thy strength confide,
And thus with tender words replied:
“No giant roams the forest shade
From whom thy lord need shrink dismayed.
No human voice, believe me, spoke
Those words thy causeless fear that woke.
Can he whose might can save in woe
The heavenly Gods e'er stoop so low,
And with those piteous accents call
For succour like a caitiff thrall?
And why should wandering giants choose
The accents of thy lord to use,
In alien tones my help to crave,
And cry aloud, O Lakshmaṇ, save?
Now let my words thy spirit cheer,
Compose thy thoughts and banish fear.
In hell, in earth, or in the skies
There is not, and there cannot rise
Canto LX. Lakshman Reproved.
A champion whose strong arm can slay
Thy Ráma in the battle fray.
To heavenly hosts he ne'er would yield
Though Indra led them to the field.”
To soothe her thus I vainly sought:
Her heart with woe was still distraught.
While from her eyes the waters ran
Her bitter speech she thus began:
“Too well I see thy dark intent:
Thy lawless thoughts on me are bent.
Thou hopest, but thy hope is vain,
To win my love, thy brother slain.
Not love, but Bharat's dark decree
To share his exile counselled thee,
Or hearing now his bitter cry
Thou surely to his aid wouldst fly.
For love of me, a stealthy foe
Thou choosest by his side to go,
And now thou longest that my lord
Should die, and wilt no help afford.”
Such were the words the lady said:
With angry fire my eyes were red.
With pale lips quivering in my rage
I hastened from the hermitage.”
He ceased; and frenzied by his pain
The son of Raghu spoke again:
“O brother, for thy fault I grieve,
The Maithil dame alone to leave.
Thou knowest that my arm is strong
To save me from the giant throng,
And yet couldst leave the cottage, spurred
To folly by her angry word.
For this thy deed I praise thee not,—
The Ramayana
To leave her helpless in the cot,
And thus thy sacred charge forsake
For the wild words a woman spake.
Yea thou art all to blame herein,
And very grievous is thy sin.
That anger swayed thy faithless breast
And made thee false to my behest.
An arrow speeding from my bow
Has laid the treacherous giant low,
Who lured me eager for the chase
Far from my hermit dwelling-place.
The string with easy hand I drew,
The arrow as in pastime flew,
The wounded quarry bled.
The borrowed form was cast away,
Before mine eye a giant lay
With bright gold braceleted.
My arrow smote him in the chest:
The giant by the pain distressed
Raised his loud voice on high.
Far rang the mournful sound: mine own,
It seemed, were accent, voice, and tone,
They made thee leave my spouse alone
And to my rescue fly.”
Canto LXI. Ráma's Lament.
As Ráma sought his leafy cot
Through his left eye keen throbbings shot,
His wonted strength his frame forsook,
And all his body reeled and shook.
Canto LXI. Ráma's Lament.
Still on those dreadful signs he thought,—
Sad omens with disaster fraught,
And from his troubled heart he cried,
“O, may no ill my spouse betide!”
Longing to gaze on Sítá's face
He hastened to his dwelling-place,
Then sinking neath his misery's weight,
He looked and found it desolate.
Tossing his mighty arms on high
He sought her with an eager cry,
From spot to spot he wildly ran
Each corner of his home to scan.
He looked, but Sítá was not there;
His cot was disolate and bare,
Like streamlet in the winter frost,
The glory of her lilies lost.
With leafy tears the sad trees wept
As a wild wind their branches swept.
Mourned bird and deer, and every flower
Drooped fainting round the lonely bower.
The silvan deities had fled
The spot where all the light was dead,
Where hermit coats of skin displayed,
And piles of sacred grass were laid.
He saw, and maddened by his pain
Cried in lament again, again:
“Where is she, dead or torn away,
Lost, or some hungry giant's prey?
Or did my darling chance to rove
For fruit and blossoms though the grove?
Or has she sought the pool or rill,
Her pitcher from the wave to fill?”
His eager eyes on fire with pain
He roamed about with maddened brain.
The Ramayana
Each grove and glade he searched with care,
He sought, but found no Sítá there.
He wildly rushed from hill to hill;
From tree to tree, from rill to rill,
As bitter woe his bosom rent
Still Ráma roamed with fond lament:
“O sweet Kadamba say has she
Who loved thy bloom been seen by thee?
If thou have seen her face most fair,
Say, gentle tree, I pray thee, where.
O Bel tree with thy golden fruit
Round as her breast, no more be mute,
Where is my radiant darling, gay
In silk that mocks thy glossy spray?
O Arjun, say, where is she now
Who loved to touch thy scented bough?
Do not thy graceful friend forget,
But tell me, is she living yet?
Speak, Basil, thou must surely know,
For like her limbs thy branches show,—
Most lovely in thy fair array
Of twining plant and tender spray.
Sweet Tila, fairest of the trees,
Melodious with the hum of bees,
Where is my darling Sítá, tell,—
The dame who loved thy flowers so well?
Aśoka, act thy gentle part,—
Named Heartsease,507give me what thou art,
To these sad eyes my darling show
And free me from this load of woe.
O Palm, in rich ripe fruitage dressed
Round as the beauties of her breast,
507Aśoka is compounded of a not and śoka grief.
Canto LXI. Ráma's Lament.
If thou have heart to know and feel,
My peerless consort's fate reveal.
Hast thou, Rose-apple, chanced to view
My darling bright with golden hue?
If thou have seen her quickly speak,
Where is the dame I wildly seek?
O glorious Cassia, thou art gay
With all thy loveliest bloom to-day,
Where is my dear who loved to hold
In her full lap thy flowery gold?”
To many a tree and plant beside,
To Jasmin, Mango, Sál, he cried.
“Say, hast thou seen, O gentle deer,
The fawn-eyed Sítá wandering here?
It may be that my love has strayed
To sport with fawns beneath the shade,
If thou, great elephant, have seen
My darling of the lovely mien,
Whose rounded limbs are soft and fine
As is that lissome trunk of thine,
O noblest of wild creatures, show
Where is the dame thou needs must know.
O tiger, hast thou chanced to see
My darling? very fair is she,
Cast all thy fear away, declare,
Where is my moon-faced darling, where?
There, darling of the lotus eye,
I see thee, and 'tis vain to fly,
Wilt thou not speak, dear love? I see
Thy form half hidden by the tree.
Stay if thou love me, Sítá, stay
In pity cease thy heartless play.
Why mock me now? thy gentle breast
Was never prone to cruel jest.
The Ramayana
'Tis vain behind yon bush to steal:
Thy shimmering silks thy path reveal.
Fly not, mine eyes pursue thy way;
For pity's sake, dear Sítá, stay.
Ah me, ah me, my words are vain;
My gentle love is lost or slain.
How could her tender bosom spurn
Her husband on his home-return?
Ah no, my love is surely dead,
Fierce giants on her flesh have fed,
Rending the soft limbs of their prey
When I her lord was far away.
That moon-bright face, that polished brow,
Red lips, bright teeth—what are they now?
Alas, my darling's shapely neck
She loved with chains of gold to deck,—
That neck that mocked the sandal scent,
The ruthless fiends have grasped and rent.
Alas, 'twas vain those arms to raise
Soft as the young tree's tender sprays.
Ah, dainty meal for giants' lips
Were arms and quivering finger tips.
Ah, she who counted many a friend
Was left for fiends to seize and rend,
Was left by me without defence
From ravening giants' violence.
O Lakshmaṇ of the arm of might,
Say, is my darling love in sight?
O dearest Sítá. where art thou?
Where is my darling consort now?”
Thus as he cried in wild lament
From grove to grove the mourner went,
Here for a moment sank to rest,
Canto LXII. Ráma's Lament.
Then started up and onward pressed.
Thus roaming on like one distraught
Still for his vanished love he sought,
He searched in wood and hill and glade,
By rock and brook and wild cascade.
Through groves with restless step he sped
And left no spot unvisited.
Through lawns and woods of vast extent
Still searching for his love he went
With eager steps and fast.
For many a weary hour he toiled,
Still in his fond endeavour foiled,
Yet hoping to the last.
Canto LXII. Ráma's Lament.
When all the toil and search was vain
He sought his leafy home again.
'Twas empty still: all scattered lay
The seats of grass in disarray.
He raised his shapely arms on high
And spoke aloud with bitter cry:
“Where is the Maithil dame?” he said,
“O, whither has my darling fled?
Who can have borne away my dame,
Or feasted on her tender frame?
If, Sítá hidden by some tree,
Thou joyest still to mock at me,
Cease, cease thy cruel sport, and take
Compassion, or my heart will break.
Bethink thee, love, the gentle fawns
The Ramayana
With whom thou playest on the lawns,
Impatient for thy coming wait
With streaming eyes disconsolate.
Reft of my love, I needs must go
Hence to the shades weighed down by woe.
The king our sire will see me there,
And cry, “O perjured Ráma, where,
Where is thy faith, that thou canst speed
From exile ere the time decreed?”
Ah Sítá, whither hast thou fled
And left me here disquieted,
A hapless mourner, reft of hope,
Too feeble with my woe to cope?
E'en thus indignant Glory flies
The wretch who stains his soul with lies.
If thou, my love, art lost to view,
I in my woe must perish too.”
Thus Ráma by his grief distraught
Wept for the wife he vainly sought,
And Lakshmaṇ whose fraternal breast
Longed for his weal, the chief addressed
Whose soul gave way beneath the pain
When all his eager search was vain,
Like some great elephant who stands
Sinking upon the treacherous sands:
“Not yet, O wisest chief, despair;
Renew thy toil with utmost care.
This noble hill where trees are green
Has many a cave and dark ravine.
The Maithil lady day by day
Delighted in the woods to stray,
Deep in the grove she wanders still,
Canto LXII. Ráma's Lament.
Or walks by blossom-covered rill,
Or fish-loved river stealing through
Tall clusters of the dark bamboo.
Or else the dame with arch design
To prove thy mood, O Prince, and mine,
Far in some sheltering thicket lies
To frighten ere she meet our eyes.
Then come, renew thy labour, trace
The lady to her lurking-place,
And search the wood from side to side
To know where Sítá loves to bide.
Collect thy thoughts, O royal chief,
Nor yield to unavailing grief.”
Thus Lakshmaṇ, by attention stirred,
To fresh attempts his brother spurred,
And Ráma, as he ceased, began
With Lakshmaṇ's aid each spot to scan.
In eager search their way they took
Through wood, o'er hill, by pool and brook,
They roamed each mount, nor spared to seek
On ridge and crag and towering peak.
They sought the dame in every spot;
But all in vain; they found her not.
Above, below, on every side
They ranged the hill, and Ráma cried,
“O Lakshmaṇ, O my brother still
No trace of Sítá on the hill!”
Then Lakshmaṇ as he roamed the wood
Beside his glorious brother stood,
And while fierce grief his bosom burned
This answer to the chief returned:
“Thou, Ráma, after toil and pain
Wilt meet the Maithil dame again,
The Ramayana
As Vishṇu, Bali's might subdued,
His empire of the earth renewed.”508
Then Ráma cried in mournful tone,
His spirit by his woe o'erthrown;
“The wood is searched from side to side,
No distant spot remains untried,
No lilied pool, no streamlet where
The lotus buds are fresh and fair.
Our eyes have searched the hill with all
His caves and every waterfall,—
But ah, not yet I find my wife,
More precious than the breath of life.”
As thus he mourned his vanished dame
A mighty trembling seized his frame,
And by o'erpowering grief assailed,
His troubled senses reeled and failed.
Too great to bear his misery grew,
And many a long hot sigh he drew,
Then as he wept and sobbed and sighed,
“O Sítá, O my love!” he cried.
Then Lakshmaṇ, joining palm to palm,
Tried every art his woe to calm.
But Ráma in his anguish heard
Or heeded not one soothing word,
Still for his spouse he mourned, and shrill
Rang out his lamentation still.
508See Book I Canto XXXI.
Canto LXIII. Ráma's Lament.
Canto LXIII. Ráma's Lament.
Thus for his wife in vain he sought:
Then, his sad soul with pain distraught,
The hero of the lotus eyes
Filled all the air with frantic cries.
O'erpowered by love's strong influence, he
His absent wife still seemed to see,
And thus with accents weak and faint
Renewed with tears his wild complaint:
“Thou, fairer than their bloom, my spouse,
Art hidden by Aśoka boughs.
Those blooms have power to banish care,
But now they drive me to despair.
Thine arms are like the plantain's stem:
Why let the plantain cover them?
Thou art not hidden, love; thy feet
Betray thee in thy dark retreat.
Thou runnest in thy girlish sport
To flowery trees, thy dear resort.
But cease, O cease, my love, I pray,
To vex me with thy cruel play.
Such mockery in a holy spot
Where hermits dwell beseems thee not.
Ah, now I see thy fickle mind
To scornful mood too much inclined,
Come, large-eyed beauty, I implore;
Lone is the cot so dear before.
The Ramayana
No, she is slain by giants; they
Have stolen or devoured their prey,
Or surely at my mournful cry
My darling to her lord would fly.
O Lakshmaṇ, see those troops of deer:
In each sad eye there gleams a tear.
Those looks of woe too clearly say
My consort is the giants' prey.
O noblest, fairest of the fair,
Where art thou, best of women, where?
This day will dark Kaikeyí find
Fresh triumph for her evil mind,
When I, who with my Sítá came
Return alone, without my dame.
But ne'er can I return to see
Those chambers where my queen should be
And hear the scornful people speak
Of Ráma as a coward weak.
For mine will be the coward's shame
Who let the foeman steal his dame.
How can I seek my home, or brook
Upon Videha's king to look?
How listen, when he bids me tell,
My wanderings o'er, that all is well?
He, when I meet his eager view,
Will mark that Sítá comes not too,
And when he hears the mournful tale
His wildered sense will reel and fail.
“O Daśaratha” will he cry,
“Blest in thy mansion in the sky!”
Ne'er to that town my steps shall bend,
That town which Bharat's arms defend,
For e'en the blessed homes above
Would seem a waste without my love.
Canto LXIV. Ráma's Lament.
Leave me, my brother, here, I pray;
To fair Ayodhyá bend thy way.
Without my love I cannot bear
To live one hour in blank despair.
Round Bharat's neck thy fond arms twine,
And greet him with these words of mine:
“Dear brother, still the power retain,
And o'er the land as monarch reign.”
With salutation next incline
Before thy mother, his, and mine.
Still, brother, to my words attend,
And with all care each dame befriend.
To my dear mother's ear relate
My mournful tale and Sítá's fate.”
Thus Ráma gave his sorrow vent,
And from a heart which anguish rent,
Mourned for his wife in loud lament,—
Her of the glorious hair,
From Lakshmaṇ's cheek the colour fled,
And o'er his heart came sudden dread,
Sick, faint, and sore disquieted
By woe too great to bear.
Canto LXIV. Ráma's Lament.
Reft of his love, the royal chief,
Weighed down beneath his whelming grief,
Desponding made his brother share
His grievous burden of despair.
Over his sinking bosom rolled
The flood of sorrow uncontrolled.
The Ramayana
And as he wept and sighed,
In mournful accents faint and slow
With words congenial to his woe,
To Lakshmaṇ thus he cried:
“Brother, I ween, beneath the sun,
Of all mankind there lives not one
So full of sin, whose hand has done
Such cursed deeds as mine.
For my sad heart with misery bleeds,
As, guerdon of those evil deeds,
Still greater woe to woe succeeds
In never-ending line.
A life of sin I freely chose,
And from my past transgression flows
A ceaseless flood of bitter woes
My folly to repay.
The fruit of sin has ripened fast,
Through many a sorrow have I passed,
And now the crowning grief at last
Falls on my head to-day.
From all my faithful friends I fled,
My sire is numbered with the dead,
My royal rank is forfeited,
My mother far away.
These woes on which I sadly think
Fill, till it raves above the brink,
The stream of grief in which I sink,—
The flood which naught can stay.
Ne'er, brother, ne'er have I complained;
Though long by toil and trouble pained,
Without a murmur I sustained
The woes of woodland life.
But fiercer than the flames that rise
Canto LXIV. Ráma's Lament.
When crackling wood the food supplies,—
Flashing a glow through evening skies,—
This sorrow for my wife.
Some cruel fiend has seized the prey
And torn my trembling love away,
While, as he bore her through the skies,
She shrieked aloud with frantic cries,
In tones of fear which, wild and shrill,
Retained their native sweetness still.
Ah me, that breast so soft and sweet,
For sandal's precious perfume meet,
Now all detained with dust and gore,
Shall meet my fond caress no more.
That face, whose lips with tones so clear
Made pleasant music, sweet to hear,—
With soft locks plaited o'er the brow,—
Some giant's hand is on it now.
It smiles not, as the dear light fails
When Ráhu's jaw the moon assails.
Ah, my true love! that shapely neck
She loved with fairest chains to deck,
The cruel demons rend, and drain
The lifeblood from each mangled vein.
Ah, when the savage monsters came
And dragged away the helpless dame,
The lady of the long soft eye
Called like a lamb with piteous cry.
Beneath this rock, O Lakshmaṇ, see,
My peerless consort sat with me,
And gently talked to thee the while,
Her sweet lips opening with a smile.
Here is that fairest stream which she
Loved ever, bright Godávarí.
Ne'er can the dame have passed this way:
The Ramayana
So far alone she would not stray,
Nor has my darling, lotus-eyed,
Sought lilies by the river's side,
For without me she ne'er would go
To streamlets where the wild flowers grow,
Tell me not, brother, she has strayed
To the dark forest's distant shade
Where blooming boughs are gay and sweet,
And bright birds love the cool retreat.
Alone my love would never dare,—
My timid love,—to wander there.
O Lord of Day whose eye sees all
We act and plan, on thee I call:
For naught is hidden from thy sight,—
Great witness thou of wrong and right.
Where is she, lost or torn away?
Dispel my torturing doubt and say.
And O thou Wind who blowest free,
The worlds have naught concealed from thee.
List to my prayer, reveal one trace
Of her, the glory of her race.
Say, is she stolen hence, or dead,
Or do her feet the forest tread?”
Thus with disordered senses, faint
With woe he poured his sad complaint,
And then, a better way to teach,
Wise Lakshmaṇ spoke in seemly speech:
“Up, brother dear, thy grief subdue,
With heart and soul thy search renew.
When woes oppress and dangers threat
Brave effort ne'er was fruitless yet.”
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
He spoke, but Ráma gave no heed
To valiant Lakshmaṇ's prudent rede.
With double force the flood of pain
Rushed o'er his yielding soul again.
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
With piteous voice, by woe subdued,
Thus Raghu's son his speech renewed:
“Thy steps, my brother, quickly turn
To bright Godávarí and learn
If Sítá to the stream have hied
To cull the lilies on its side.”
Obedient to the words he said,
His brother to the river sped.
The shelving banks he searched in vain,
And then to Ráma turned again.
“I searched, but found her not,” he cried;
“I called aloud, but none replied.
Where can the Maithil lady stray,
Whose sight would chase our cares away?
I know not where, her steps untraced,
Roams Sítá of the dainty waist.”
The Ramayana
When Ráma heard the words he spoke
Again he sank beneath the stroke,
And with a bosom anguish-fraught
Himself the lovely river sought.
There standing on the shelving side,
“O Sítá, where art thou?” he cried.
No spirit voice an answer gave,
No murmur from the trembling wave
Of sweet Godávarí declared
The outrage which the fiend had dared.
“O speak!” the pitying spirits cried,
But yet the stream their prayer denied,
Nor dared she, coldly mute, relate
To the sad chief his darling's fate
Of Rávaṇ's awful form she thought,
And the dire deed his arm had wrought,
And still withheld by fear dismayed,
The tale for which the mourner prayed.
When hope was none, his heart to cheer,
That the bright stream his cry would hear
While sorrow for his darling tore
His longing soul he spake once more:
“Though I have sought with tears and sighs
Godárvarí no word replies,
O say, what answer can I frame
To Janak, father of my dame?
Or how before her mother stand
Leading no Sítá by the hand?
Where is my loyal love who went
Forth with her lord to banishment?
Her faith to me she nobly held
Though from my realm and home expelled,—
A hermit, nursed on woodland fare,—
She followed still and soothed my care.
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
Of all my friends am I bereft,
Nor is my faithful consort left.
How slowly will the long nights creep
While comfortless I wake and weep!
O, if my wife may yet be found,
With humble love I'll wander round
This Janasthán, Praśravaṇ's hill,
Mandákiní's delightful rill.
See how the deer with gentle eyes
Look on my face and sympathize.
I mark their soft expression: each
Would soothe me, if it could, with speech.”
A while the anxious throng he eyed.
And “Where is Sítá, where?” he cried.
Thus while hot tears his utterance broke
The mourning son of Raghu spoke.
The deer in pity for his woes
Obeyed the summons and arose.
Upon his right thy stood, and raised
Their sad eyes up to heaven and gazed
Each to that quarter bent her look
Which Rávaṇ with his captive took.
Then Raghu's son again they viewed,
And toward that point their way pursued.
Then Lakshmaṇ watched their looks intent
As moaning on their way they went,
And marked each sign which struck his sense
With mute expressive influence,
Then as again his sorrow woke
Thus to his brother chief he spoke:
“Those deer thy eager question heard
The Ramayana
And rose at once by pity stirred:
See, in thy search their aid they lend,
See, to the south their looks they bend.
Arise, dear brother, let us go
The way their eager glances show,
If haply sign or trace descried
Our footsteps in the search may guide.”
The son of Raghu gave assent,
And quickly to the south they went;
With eager eyes the earth he scanned,
And Lakshmaṇ followed close at hand.
As each to other spake his thought,
And round with anxious glances sought,
Scattered before them in the way,
Blooms of a fallen garland lay.
When Ráma saw that flowery rain
He spoke once more with bitterest pain:
“O Lakshmaṇ every flower that lies
Here on the ground I recognize.
I culled them in the grove, and there
My darling twined them in her hair.
The sun, the earth, the genial breeze
Have spared these flowers my soul to please.”
Then to that woody hill he prayed,
Whence flashed afar each wild cascade:
“O best of mountains, hast thou seen
A dame of perfect form and mien
In some sweet spot with trees o'ergrown,—
My darling whom I left alone?”
Then as a lion threats a deer
He thundered with a voice of fear:
“Reveal her, mountain, to my view
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
With golden limbs and golden hue.
Where is my darling Sítá? speak
Before I rend thee peak from peak.”
The mountain seemed her track to show,
But told not all he sought to know.
Then Daśaratha's son renewed
His summons as the mount he viewed:
“Soon as my flaming arrows fly,
Consumed to ashes shall thou lie
Without a herb or bud or tree,
And birds no more shall dwell in thee.
And if this stream my prayer deny,
My wrath this day her flood shall dry,
Because she lends no aid to trace
My darling of the lotus face.”
Thus Ráma spake as though his ire
Would scorch them with his glance of fire;
Then searching farther on the ground
The footprint of a fiend he found,
And small light traces here and there,
Where Sítá in her great despair,
Shrieking for Ráma's help, had fled
Before the giant's mighty tread.
His careful eye each trace surveyed
Which Sítá and the fiend had made,—
The quivers and the broken bow
And ruined chariot of the foe,—
And told, distraught by fear and grief,
His tidings to his brother chief:
“O Lakshmaṇ, here,” he cried “behold
My Sítá's earrings dropped with gold.
Here lie her garlands torn and rent,
The Ramayana
Here lies each glittering ornament.
O look, the ground on every side
With blood-like drops of gold is dyed.
The fiends who wear each strange disguise
Have seized, I ween, the helpless prize.
My lady, by their hands o'erpowered,
Is slaughtered, mangled, and devoured.
Methinks two fearful giants came
And waged fierce battle for the dame.
Whose, Lakshmaṇ, was this mighty bow
With pearls and gems in glittering row?
Cast to the ground the fragments lie,
And still their glory charms the eye.
A bow so mighty sure was planned
For heavenly God or giant's hand.
Whose was this coat of golden mail
Which, though its lustre now is pale,
Shone like the sun of morning, bright
With studs of glittering lazulite?
Whose, Lakshmaṇ, was this bloom-wreathed shade
With all its hundred ribs displayed?
This screen, most meet for royal brow,
With broken staff lies useless now.
And these tall asses, goblin-faced,
With plates of golden harness graced,
Whose hideous forms are stained with gore
Who is the lord whose yoke they bore?
Whose was this pierced and broken car
That shoots a flame-like blaze afar?
Whose these spent shafts at random spread,
Each fearful with its iron head,—
With golden mountings fair to see,
Long as a chariot's axle-tree?
These quivers see, which, rent in twain,
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
Their sheaves of arrows still contain.
Whose was this driver? Dead and cold,
His hands the whip and reins still hold.
See, Lakshmaṇ, here the foot I trace
Of man, nay, one of giant race.
The hatred that I nursed of old
Grows mightier now a hundred fold
Against these giants, fierce of heart,
Who change their forms by magic art.
Slain, eaten by the giant press,
Or stolen is the votaress,
Nor could her virtue bring defence
To Sítá seized and hurried hence.
O, if my love be slain or lost
All hope of bliss for me is crossed.
The power of all the worlds were vain
To bring one joy to soothe my pain.
The spirits with their blinded eyes
Would look in wonder, and despise
The Lord who made the worlds, the great
Creator when compassionate.
And so, I ween, the Immortals turn
Cold eyes upon me now, and spurn
The weakling prompt at pity's call,
Devoted to the good of all.
But from this day behold me changed,
From every gentle grace estranged.
Now be it mine all life to slay,
And sweep these cursed fiends away.
As the great sun leaps up the sky,
And the cold moonbeams fade and die,
So vengeance rises in my breast,
One passion conquering all the rest.
Gandharvas in their radiant place,
The Ramayana
The Yakshas, and the giant race,
Kinnars and men shall look in vain
For joy they ne'er shall see again.
The anguish of my great despair,
O Lakshmaṇ, fills the heaven and air;
And I in wrath all life will slay
Within the triple world to-day.
Unless the Gods in heaven who dwell
Restore my Sítá safe and well,
I armed with all the fires of Fate,
The triple world will devastate.
The troubled stars from heaven shall fall,
The moon be wrapped in gloomy pall,
The fire be quenched, the wind be stilled,
The radiant sun grow dark and chilled;
Crushed every mountain's towering pride,
And every lake and river dried,
Dead every creeper, plant, and tree,
And lost for aye the mighty sea.
Thou shalt the world this day behold
In wild disorder uncontrolled,
With dying life which naught defends
From the fierce storm my bowstring sends.
My shafts this day, for Sítá's sake,
The life of every fiend shall take.
The Gods this day shall see the force
That wings my arrows on their course,
And mark how far that course is held,
By my unsparing wrath impelled.
No God, not one of Daitya strain,
Goblin or Rákshas shall remain.
My wrath shall end the worlds, and all
Demons and Gods therewith shall fall.
Each world which Gods, the Dánav race,
Canto LXV. Ráma's Wrath.
And giants make their dwelling place,
Shall fall beneath my arrows sent
In fury when my bow is bent.
The arrows loosened from my string
Confusion on the worlds shall bring.
For she is lost or breathes no more,
Nor will the Gods my love restore.
Hence all on earth with life and breath
This day I dedicate to death.
All, till my darling they reveal,
The fury of my shafts shall feel.”
Thus as he spake by rage impelled,
Red grew his eyes, his fierce lips swelled.
His bark coat round his form he drew
And coiled his hermit braids anew,
Like Rudra when he yearned to slay
The demon Tripur509in the fray.
So looked the hero brave and wise,
The fury flashing from his eyes.
Then Ráma, conqueror of the foe,
From Lakshmaṇ's hand received his bow,
Strained the great string, and laid thereon
A deadly dart that flashed and shone,
And spake these words as fierce in ire
As He who ends the worlds with fire:
509An Asur or demon, king of Tripura, the modern Tipperah.
The Ramayana
“As age and time and death and fate
All life with checkless power await,
So Lakshmaṇ in my wrath to-day
My vengeful might shall brook no stay,
Unless this day I see my dame
In whose sweet form is naught to blame,—
Yea, as before, my love behold
Fair with bright teeth and perfect mould,
This world shall feel a deadly blow
Destroyed with ruthless overthrow,
And serpent lords and Gods of air,
Gandharvas, men, the doom shall share.”
Canto LXVI. Lakshman's Speech.
He stood incensed with eyes of flame,
Still mourning for his ravished dame,
Determined, like the fire of Fate,
To leave the wide world desolate.
His ready bow the hero eyed,
And as again, again he sighed,
The triple world would fain consume
Like Hara510in the day of doom.
Then Lakshmaṇ moved with sorrow viewed
His brother in unwonted mood,
And reverent palm to palm applied,
Thus spoke with lips which terror dried
“Thy heart was ever soft and kind,
To every creature's good inclined.
Canto LXVI. Lakshman's Speech.
Cast not thy tender mood away,
Nor yield to anger's mastering sway.
The moon for gentle grace is known,
The sun has splendour all his own,
The restless wind is free and fast,
And earth in patience unsurpassed.
So glory with her noble fruit
Is thine eternal attribute.
O, let not, for the sin of one,
The triple world be all undone.
I know not whose this car that lies
In fragments here before our eyes,
Nor who the chiefs who met and fought,
Nor what the prize the foemen sought;
Who marked the ground with hoof and wheel,
Or whose the hand that plied the steel
Which left this spot, the battle o'er,
Thus sadly dyed with drops of gore.
Searching with utmost care I view
The signs of one and not of two.
Where'er I turn mine eyes I trace
No mighty host about the place.
Then mete not out for one offence
This all-involving recompense.
For kings should use the sword they bear,
But mild in time should learn to spare,
Thou, ever moved by misery's call,
Wast the great hope and stay of all.
Throughout this world who would not blame
This outrage on thy ravished dame?
Gandharvas, Dánavs, Gods, the trees,
The rocks, the rivers, and the seas,
Can ne'er in aught thy soul offend,
As one whom holiest rites befriend.
The Ramayana
But him who dared to steal the dame
Pursue, O King, with ceaseless aim,
With me, the hermits' holy band,
And thy great bow to arm thy hand
By every mighty flood we'll seek,
Each wood, each hill from base to peak.
To the fair homes of Gods we'll fly,
And bright Gandharvas in the sky,
Until we reach, where'er he be,
The wretch who stole thy spouse from thee.
Then if the Gods will not restore
Thy Sítá when the search is o'er,
Then, royal lord of Kośal's land,
No longer hold thy vengeful hand.
If meekness, prayer, and right be weak
To bring thee back the dame we seek,
Up, brother, with a deadly shower
Of gold-bright shafts thy foes o'erpower,
Fierce as the flashing levin sent
From King Mahendra's firmament.
Canto LXVII. Ráma Appeased.
As Ráma, pierced by sorrow's sting,
Lamented like a helpless thing,
And by his mighty woe distraught
Was lost in maze of troubled thought,
Sumitrá's son with loving care
Consoled him in his wild despair,
And while his feet he gently pressed
With words like these the chief addressed:
Canto LXVII. Ráma Appeased.
“For sternest vow and noblest deed
Was Daśaratha blessed with seed.
Thee for his son the king obtained,
Like Amrit by the Gods regained.
Thy gentle graces won his heart,
And all too weak to live apart
The monarch died, as Bharat told,
And lives on high mid Gods enrolled.
If thou, O Ráma, wilt not bear
This grief which fills thee with despair,
How shall a weaker man e'er hope,
Infirm and mean, with woe to cope?
Take heart, I pray thee, noblest chief:
What man who breathes is free from grief?
Misfortunes come and burn like flame,
Then fly as quickly as they came.
Yayáti son of Nahush reigned
With Indra on the throne he gained.
But falling for a light offence
He mourned a while the consequence.
Vaśishṭha, reverend saint and sage,
Priest of our sire from youth to age,
Begot a hundred sons, but they
Were smitten in a single day.511
And she, the queen whom all revere,
The mother whom we hold so dear,
The earth herself not seldom feels
Fierce fever when she shakes and reels.
And those twin lights, the world's great eyes,
On which the universe relies,—
Does not eclipse at times assail
Their brilliance till their fires grow pale?
511See Book I, Canto LIX.
The Ramayana
The mighty Powers, the Immortal Blest
Bend to a law which none contest.
No God, no bodied life is free
From conquering Fate's supreme decree.
E'en Śakra's self must reap the meed
Of virtue and of sinful deed.
And O great lord of men, wilt thou
Helpless beneath thy misery bow?
No, if thy dame be lost or dead,
O hero, still be comforted,
Nor yield for ever to thy woe
O'ermastered like the mean and low.
Thy peers, with keen far-reaching eyes,
Spend not their hours in ceaseless sighs;
In dire distress, in whelming ill
Their manly looks are hopeful still.
To this, great chief, thy reason bend,
And earnestly the truth perpend.
By reason's aid the wisest learn
The good and evil to discern.
With sin and goodness scarcely known
Faint light by chequered lives is shown;
Without some clear undoubted deed
We mark not how the fruits succeed.
In time of old, O thou most brave,
To me thy lips such counsel gave.
Vṛihaspati512can scarcely find
New wisdom to instruct thy mind.
For thine is wit and genius high
Meet for the children of the sky.
I rouse that heart benumbed by pain
And call to vigorous life again.
512The preceptor of the Gods.
Canto LXVIII. Jatáyus.
Be manly godlike vigour shown;
Put forth that noblest strength, thine own.
Strive, best of old Ikshváku's strain,
Strive till the conquered foe be slain.
Where is the profit or the joy
If thy fierce rage the worlds destroy?
Search till thou find the guilty foe,
Then let thy hand no mercy show.”
Canto LXVIII. Jatáyus.
Thus faithful Lakshmaṇ strove to cheer
The prince with counsel wise and clear.
Who, prompt to seize the pith of all,
Let not that wisdom idly fall.
With vigorous effort he restrained
The passion in his breast that reigned,
And leaning on his bow for rest
His brother Lakshmaṇ thus addressed:
“How shall we labour now, reflect;
Whither again our search direct?
Brother, what plan canst thou devise
To bring her to these longing eyes?”
The Ramayana
To him by toil and sorrow tried
The prudent Lakshmaṇ thus replied:
“Come, though our labour yet be vain,
And search through Janasthán again,—
A realm where giant foes abound,
And trees and creepers hide the ground.
For there are caverns deep and dread,
By deer and wild birds tenanted,
And hills with many a dark abyss,
Grotto and rock and precipice.
There bright Gandharvas love to dwell,
And Kinnars in each bosky dell.
With me thy eager search to aid
Be every hill and cave surveyed.
Great chiefs like thee, the best of men,
Endowed with sense and piercing ken,
Though tried by trouble never fail,
Like rooted hills that mock the gale.”
Then Ráma, pierced by anger's sting,
Laid a keen arrow on his string,
And by the faithful Lakshmaṇ's side
Roamed through the forest far and wide.
Jaṭáyus there with blood-drops dyed,
Lying upon the ground he spied,
Huge as a mountain's shattered crest,
Mid all the birds of air the best.
In wrath the mighty bird he eyed,
And thus the chief to Lakshmaṇ cried:
Canto LXVIII. Jatáyus.
“Ah me, these signs the truth betray;
My darling was the vulture's prey.
Some demon in the bird's disguise
Roams through the wood that round us lies.
On large-eyed Sítá he has fed,
And rests him now with wings outspread.
But my keen shafts whose flight is true,
Shall pierce the ravenous monster through.”
An arrow on the string he laid,
And rushing near the bird surveyed,
While earth to ocean's distant side
Trembled beneath his furious stride.
With blood and froth on neck and beak
The dying bird essayed to speak,
And with a piteous voice, distressed,
Thus Daśaratha's son addressed:
“She whom like some sweet herb of grace
Thou seekest in this lonely place,
Fair lady, is fierce Rávaṇ's prey,
Who took, beside, my life away.
Lakshmaṇ and thou had parted hence
And left the dame without defence.
I saw her swiftly borne away
By Rávaṇ's might which none could stay.
I hurried to the lady's aid,
I crushed his car and royal shade,
And putting forth my warlike might
Hurled Rávaṇ to the earth in fight.
Here, Ráma, lies his broken bow,
Here lie the arrows of the foe.
There on the ground before thee are
The fragments of his battle car.
The Ramayana
There bleeds the driver whom my wings
Beat down with ceaseless buffetings.
When toil my aged strength subdued,
His sword my weary pinions hewed.
Then lifting up the dame he bare
His captive through the fields of air.
Thy vengeful blows from me restrain,
Already by the giant slain.”
When Ráma heard the vulture tell
The tale that proved his love so well,
His bow upon the ground he placed,
And tenderly the bird embraced:
Then to the earth he fell o'erpowered,
And burning tears both brothers showered,
For double pain and anguish pressed
Upon the patient hero's breast.
The solitary bird he eyed
Who in the lone wood gasped and sighed,
And as again his anguish woke
Thus Ráma to his brother spoke:
“Expelled from power the woods I tread,
My spouse is lost, the bird is dead.
A fate so sad, I ween, would tame
The vigour of the glorious flame.
If I to cool my fever tried
To cross the deep from side to side,
The sea,—so hard my fate,—would dry
His waters as my feet came nigh.
In all this world there lives not one
So cursed as I beneath the sun;
So strong a net of misery cast
Around me holds the captive fast,
Canto LXIX. The Death Of Jatáyus.
Best of all birds that play the wing,
Loved, honoured by our sire the king,
The vulture, in my fate enwound,
Lies bleeding, dying on the ground.”
Then Ráma and his brother stirred
By pity mourned the royal bird,
And, as their hands his limbs caressed,
Affection for a sire expressed.
And Ráma to his bosom strained
The bird with mangled wings distained,
With crimson blood-drops dyed.
He fell, and shedding many a tear,
“Where is my spouse than life more dear?
Where is my love?” he cried.
Canto LXIX. The Death Of Jatáyus.
As Ráma viewed with heart-felt pain
The vulture whom the fiend had slain,
In words with tender love impressed
His brother chief he thus addressed:
The Ramayana
“This royal bird with faithful thought
For my advantage strove and fought.
Slain by the fiend in mortal strife
For me he yields his noble life.
See, Lakshmaṇ, how his wounds have bled;
His struggling breath will soon have fled.
Faint is his voice, and near to die,
He scarce can lift his trembling eye.
Jaṭáyus, if thou still can speak,
Give, give the answer that I seek.
The fate of ravished Sítá tell,
And how thy mournful chance befell.
Say why the giant stole my dame:
What have I done that he could blame?
What fault in me has Rávaṇ seen
That he should rob me of my queen?
How looked the lady's moon-bright cheek?
What were the words she found to speak?
His strength, his might, his deeds declare:
And tell the form he loves to wear.
To all my questions make reply:
Where does the giant's dwelling lie?”
The noble bird his glances bent
On Ráma as he made lament,
And in low accents faint and weak
With anguish thus began to speak:
“Fierce Rávaṇ, king of giant race,
Stole Sítá from thy dwelling-place.
He calls his magic art to aid
With wind and cloud and gloomy shade.
When in the fight my power was spent
My wearied wings he cleft and rent.
Then round the dame his arms he threw,
Canto LXIX. The Death Of Jatáyus.
And to the southern region flew.
O Raghu's son, I gasp for breath,
My swimming sight is dim in death.
E'en now before my vision pass
Bright trees of gold with hair of grass,
The hour the impious robber chose
Brings on the thief a flood of woes.
The giant in his haste forgot
'Twas Vinda's hour,513or heeded not.
Those robbed at such a time obtain
Their plundered store and wealth again.
He, like a fish that takes the bait,
In briefest time shall meet his fate.
Now be thy troubled heart controlled
And for thy lady's loss consoled,
For thou wilt slay the fiend in fight
And with thy dame have new delight.”
With senses clear, though sorely tried,
The royal vulture thus replied,
While as he sank beneath his pain
Forth rushed the tide of blood again.
“Him,514brother of the Lord of Gold,
Viśravas' self begot of old.”
Thus spoke the bird, and stained with gore
Resigned the breath that came no more.
“Speak, speak again!” thus Ráma cried,
With reverent palm to palm applied,
But from the frame the spirit fled
And to the skiey regions sped.
The breath of life had passed away.
Stretched on the ground the body lay.
513From the root vid, to find.
The Ramayana
When Ráma saw the vulture lie,
Huge as a hill, with darksome eye,
With many a poignant woe distressed
His brother chief he thus addressed:
“Amid these haunted shades content
Full many a year this bird has spent.
His life in home of giants passed,
In Daṇḍak wood he dies at last.
The years in lengthened course have fled
Untroubled o'er the vulture's head,
And now he lies in death, for none
The stern decrees of Fate may shun.
See, Lakshmaṇ, how the vulture fell
While for my sake he battled well.
And strove to free with onset bold
My Sítá from the giant's hold.
Supreme amid the vulture kind
His ancient rule the bird resigned,
And conquered in the fruitless strife
Gave for my sake his noble life.
O Lakshmaṇ, many a time we see
Great souls who keep the law's decree,
With whom the weak sure refuge find,
In creatures of inferior kind.
The loss of her, my darling queen,
Strikes with a pang less fiercely keen
Than now this slaughtered bird to see
Who nobly fought and died for me.
As Daśaratha, good and great,
Was glorious in his high estate,
Honoured by all, to all endeared,
So was this royal bird revered.
Bring fuel for the funeral rite:
These hands the solemn fire shall light
Canto LXIX. The Death Of Jatáyus.
And on the burning pyre shall lay
The bird who died for me to-day.
Now on the gathered wood shall lie
The lord of all the birds that fly,
And I will burn with honours due
My champion whom the giant slew.
O royal bird of noblest heart,
Graced with all funeral rites depart
To bright celestial seats above,
Rewarded for thy faithful love.
Dwell in thy happy home with those
Whose constant fires of worship rose.
Live blest amid the unyielding brave,
And those who land in largess gave.”
Sore grief upon his bosom weighed
As on the pyre the bird he laid,
And bade the kindled flame ascend
To burn the body of his friend.
Then with his brother by his side
The hero to the forest hied.
There many a stately deer he slew,
The flesh around the bird to strew.
The venison into balls he made,
And on fair grass before him laid.
Then that the parted soul might rise
And find free passage to the skies,
Each solemn word and text he said
Which Bráhmans utter o'er the dead.
Then hastening went the princely pair
To bright Godávarí, and there
Libations of the stream they poured
In honour of the vulture lord,
With solemn ritual to the slain,
The Ramayana
As scripture's holy texts ordain.
Thus offerings to the bird they gave
And bathed their bodies in the wave.
The vulture monarch having wrought
A hard and glorious feat,
Honoured by Ráma sage in thought,
Soared to his blissful seat.
The brothers, when each rite was paid
To him of birds supreme,
Their hearts with new-found comfort stayed,
And turned them from the stream.
Like sovereigns of celestial race
Within the wood they came,
Each pondering the means to trace,
The captor of the dame.
Canto LXX. Kabandha.
When every rite was duly paid
The princely brothers onward strayed,
And eager in the lady's quest
They turned their footsteps to the west.
Through lonely woods that round them lay
Ikshváku's children made their way,
And armed with bow and shaft and brand
Pressed onward to the southern land.
Thick trees and shrubs and creepers grew
In the wild grove they hurried through.
'Twas dark and drear and hard to pass
For tangled thorns and matted grass.
Canto LXX. Kabandha.
Still onward with a southern course
They made their way with vigorous force,
And passing through the mazes stood
Beyond that vast and fearful wood.
With toil and hardship yet unspent
Three leagues from Janasthán they went,
And speeding on their way at last
Within the wood of Krauncha515passed:
A fearful forest wild and black
As some huge pile of cloudy rack,
Filled with all birds and beasts, where grew
Bright blooms of every varied hue.
On Sítá bending every thought
Through all the mighty wood they sought,
And at the lady's loss dismayed
Here for a while and there they stayed.
Then turning farther eastward they
Pursued three leagues their weary way,
Passed Krauncha's wood and reached the grove
Where elephants rejoiced to rove.
The chiefs that awful wood surveyed
Where deer and wild birds filled each glade,
Where scarce a step the foot could take
For tangled shrub and tree and brake.
There in a mountain's woody side
A cave the royal brothers spied,
With dread abysses deep as hell,
Where darkness never ceased to dwell.
When, pressing on, the lords of men
Stood near the entrance of the den,
They saw within the dark recess
A huge misshapen giantess;
515Or Curlews' Wood.
The Ramayana
A thing the timid heart that shook
With fearful shape and savage look.
Terrific fiend, her voice was fierce,
Long were her teeth to rend and pierce.
The monster gorged her horrid feast
Of flesh of many a savage beast,
While her long locks, at random flung,
Dishevelled o'er her shoulders hung.
Their eyes the royal brothers raised,
And on the fearful monster gazed.
Forth from her den she came and glanced
At Lakshmaṇ as he first advanced,
Her eager arms to hold him spread,
And “Come and be my love” she said,
Then as she held him to her breast,
The prince in words like these addressed:
“Behold thy treasure fond and fair:
Ayomukhi516the name I bear.
In thickets of each lofty hill,
On islets of each brook and rill,
With me delighted shalt thou play,
And live for many a lengthened day.”
Enraged he heard the monster woo;
His ready sword he swiftly drew,
And the sharp steel that quelled his foes
Cut through her breast and ear and nose.
Thus mangled by his vengeful sword
In rage and pain the demon roared,
And hideous with her awful face
Sped to her secret dwelling place.
Soon as the fiend had fled from sight,
The brothers, dauntless in their might,
Canto LXX. Kabandha.
Reached a wild forest dark and dread
Whose tangled ways were hard to tread.
Then bravest Lakshmaṇ, virtuous youth,
The friend of purity and truth,
With reverent palm to palm applied
Thus to his glorious brother cried:
“My arm presaging throbs amain,
My troubled heart is sick with pain,
And cheerless omens ill portend
Where'er my anxious eyes I bend.
Dear brother, hear my words: advance
Resolved and armed for every chance,
For every sign I mark to-day
Foretells a peril in the way.
This bird of most ill-omened note,
Loud screaming with discordant throat,
Announces with a warning cry
That strife and victory are nigh.”
Then as the chiefs their search pursued
Throughout the dreary solitude,
They heard amazed a mighty sound
That broke the very trees around,
As though a furious tempest passed
Crushing the wood beneath its blast.
Then Ráma raised his trusty sword,
And both the hidden cause explored.
There stood before their wondering eyes
A fiend broad-chested, huge of size.
A vast misshapen trunk they saw
In height surpassing nature's law.
It stood before them dire and dread
Without a neck, without a head.
The Ramayana
Tall as some hill aloft in air,
Its limbs were clothed with bristling hair,
And deep below the monster's waist
His vast misshapen mouth was placed.
His form was huge, his voice was loud
As some dark-tinted thunder cloud.
Forth from his ample chest there came
A brilliance as of gushing flame.
Beneath long lashes, dark and keen
The monster's single eye was seen.
Deep in his chest, long, fiercely bright,
It glittered with terrific light.
He swallowed down his savage fare
Of lion, bird, and slaughtered bear,
And with huge teeth exposed to view
O'er his great lips his tongue he drew.
His arms unshapely, vast and dread,
A league in length, he raised and spread.
He seized with monstrous hands a herd
Of deer and many a bear and bird.
Among them all he picked and chose,
Drew forward these, rejected those.
Before the princely pair he stood
Barring their passage through the wood.
A league of shade the chiefs had passed
When on the fiend their eyes they cast.
A monstrous shape without a head
With mighty arms before him spread,
They saw that hideous trunk appear
That struck the trembling eye with fear.
Then, stretching to their full extent
His awful arms with fingers bent,
Round Raghu's princely sons he cast
Each grasping limb and held them fast.
Canto LXX. Kabandha.
Though strong of arm and fierce in fight,
Each armed with bow and sword to smite,
The royal brothers, brave and bold,
Were helpless in the giant's hold.
Then Raghu's son, heroic still,
Felt not a pang his bosom thrill;
But young, with no protection near,
His brother's heart was sad with fear,
And thus with trembling tongue he said
To Ráma, sore disquieted:
“Ah me, ah me, my days are told:
O see me in the giant's hold.
Fly, son of Raghu, swiftly flee,
And thy dear self from danger free.
Me to the fiend an offering give;
Fly at thine ease thyself and live.
Thou, great Kakutstha's son, I ween,
Wilt find ere long thy Maithil queen,
And when thou holdest, throned again,
Thine old hereditary reign,
With servants prompt to do thy will,
O think upon thy brother still.”
As thus the trembling Lakshmaṇ cried,
The dauntless Ráma thus replied:
“Brother, from causeless dread forbear.
A chief like thee should scorn despair.”
He spoke to soothe his wild alarm:
Then fierce Kabandha517long of arm,
Among the Dánavs518first and best,
The sons of Raghu thus addressed:
517Kabandha means a trunk.
518A class of mythological giants. In the Epic period they were probably
personifications of the aborigines of India.
The Ramayana
“What men are you, whose shoulders show
Broad as a bull's, with sword and bow,
Who roam this dark and horrid place,
Brought by your fate before my face?
Declare by what occasion led
These solitary wilds you tread,
With swords and bows and shafts to pierce,
Like bulls whose horns are strong and fierce.
Why have you sought this forest land
Where wild with hunger's pangs I stand?
Now as your steps my path have crossed
Esteem your lives already lost.”
The royal brothers heard with dread
The words which fierce Kabandha said.
And Ráma to his brother cried,
Whose cheek by blanching fear was dried:
“Alas, we fall, O valiant chief,
From sorrow into direr grief,
Still mourning her I hold so dear
We see our own destruction near.
Mark, brother, mark what power has time
O'er all that live, in every clime.
Now, lord of men, thyself and me
Involved in fatal danger see.
'Tis not, be sure, the might of Fate
That crushes all with deadly weight.
Ne'er can the brave and strong, who know
The use of spear and sword and bow,
The force of conquering time withstand,
But fall like barriers built of sand.”
Canto LXXI. Kabandha's Speech.
Thus in calm strength which naught could shake
The son of Daśaratha spake,
With glory yet unstained
Upon Sumitrá's son he bent
His eyes, and firm in his intent
His dauntless heart maintained.
Canto LXXI. Kabandha's Speech.
Kabandha saw each chieftain stand
Imprisoned by his mighty hand,
Which like a snare around him pressed
And thus the royal pair addressed:
“Why, warriors, are your glances bent
On me whom hungry pangs torment?
Why stand with wildered senses? Fate
Has brought you now my maw to sate.”
When Lakshmaṇ heard, a while appalled,
His ancient courage he recalled,
And to his brother by his side
With seasonable counsel cried:
The Ramayana
“This vilest of the giant race
Will draw us to his side apace.
Come, rouse thee; let the vengeful sword
Smite off his arms, my honoured lord.
This awful giant, vast of size,
On his huge strength of arm relies,
And o'er the world victorious, thus
With mighty force would slaughter us.
But in cold blood to slay, O King,
Discredit on the brave would bring,
As when some victim in the rite
Shuns not the hand upraised to smite.”
The monstrous fiend, to anger stirred,
The converse of the brothers heard.
His horrid mouth he opened wide
And drew the princes to his side.
They, skilled due time and place to note
Unsheathed their glittering swords and smote,
Till from the giant's shoulders they
Had hewn the mighty arms away.
His trenchant falchion Ráma plied
And smote him on the better side,
While valiant Lakshmaṇ on the left
The arm that held him prisoned cleft.
Then to the earth dismembered fell
The monster with a hideous yell,
And like a cloud's his deep roar went
Through earth and air and firmament.
Then as the giant's blood flowed fast,
On his cleft limbs his eye he cast,
And called upon the princely pair
Their names and lineage to declare.
Him then the noble Lakshmaṇ, blest
Canto LXXI. Kabandha's Speech.
With fortune's favouring marks, addressed,
And told the fiend his brother's name
And the high blood of which he came:
“Ikshváku's heir here Ráma stands,
Illustrious through a hundred lands.
I, younger brother of the heir,
O fiend, the name of Lakshmaṇ bear.
His mother stole his realm away
And drove him forth in woods to stray.
Thus through the mighty forest he
Roamed with his royal wife and me.
While glorious as a God he made
His dwelling in the greenwood shade,
Some giant stole away his dame,
And seeking her we hither came.
But tell me who thou art, and why
With headless trunk that towered so high,
With flaming face beneath thy chest,
Thou liest crushed in wild unrest.”
He heard the words that Lakshmaṇ spoke,
And memory in his breast awoke,
Recalling Indra's words to mind
He spoke in gentle tones and kind:
“O welcome best of men, are ye
Whom, blest by fate, this day I see.
A blessing on each trenchant blade
That low on earth these arms has laid!
Thou, lord of men, incline thine ear
The story of my woe to hear,
While I the rebel pride declare
Which doomed me to the form I wear.”
The Ramayana
Canto LXXII. Kabandha's Tale.
“Lord of the mighty arm, of yore
A shape transcending thought I wore,
And through the triple world's extent
My fame for might and valour went.
Scarce might the sun and moon on high,
Scarce Śakra, with my beauty vie.
Then for a time this form I took,
And the great world with trembling shook.
The saints in forest shades who dwelt
The terror of my presence felt.
But once I stirred to furious rage
Great Sthúlaśiras, glorious sage.
Culling in woods his hermit food
My hideous shape with fear he viewed.
Then forth his words of anger burst
That bade me live a thing accursed:
“Thou, whose delight is others' pain,
This grisly form shalt still retain.”
Then when I prayed him to relent
And fix some term of punishment,—
Prayed that the curse at length might cease,
He bade me thus expect release:
“Let Ráma cleave thine arms away
And on the pyre thy body lay,
And then shalt thou, set free from doom,
Thine own fair shape once more assume.”
O Lakshmaṇ, hear my words: in me
The world-illustrious Danu see.
By Indra's curse, subdued in fight,
I wear this form which scares the sight.
By sternest penance long maintained
Canto LXXII. Kabandha's Tale.
The mighty Father's grace I gained.
When length of days the God bestowed,
With foolish pride my bosom glowed.
My life, of lengthened years assured,
I deemed from Śakra's might secured.
Let by my senseless pride astray
I challenged Indra to the fray.
A flaming bolt with many a knot
With his terrific arm he shot,
And straight my head and thighs compressed
Were buried in my bulky chest.
Deaf to each prayer and piteous call
He sent me not to Yáma's hall.
“Thy prayers and cries,” he said “are vain:
The Father's word must true remain.”
“But how may lengthened life be spent
By one the bolt has torn and rent?
How can I live,” I cried, “unfed,
With shattered face and thighs and head?”
As thus I spoke his grace to crave,
Arms each a league in length he gave,
And opened in my chest beneath
This mouth supplied with fearful teeth.
So my huge arms I used to cast
Round woodland creatures as they passed,
And fed within the forest here
On lion, tiger, pard, and deer.
Then Indra spake to soothe my grief:
“When Ráma and his brother chief
From thy huge bulk those arms shall cleave,
Then shall the skies thy soul receive.”
Disguised in this terrific shape
I let no woodland thing escape,
And still my longing soul was pleased
The Ramayana
Whene'er my arms a victim seized,
For in these arms I fondly thought
Would Ráma's self at last be caught.
Thus hoping, toiling many a day
I yearned to cast my life away,
And here, my lord, thou standest now:
Blessings be thine! for none but thou
Could cleave my arms with trenchant stroke:
True are the words the hermit spoke.
Now let me, best of warriors, lend
My counsel, and thy plans befriend,
And aid thee with advice in turn
If thou with fire my corse wilt burn.”
As thus the mighty Danu prayed
With offer of his friendly aid,
While Lakshmaṇ gazed with anxious eye,
The virtuous Ráma made reply:
“Lakshmaṇ and I through forest shade
From Janasthán a while had strayed.
When none was near her, Rávaṇ came
And bore away my glorious dame,
The giant's form and size unknown,
I learn as yet his name alone.
Not yet the power and might we know
Or dwelling of the monstrous foe.
With none our helpless feet to guide
We wander here by sorrow tried.
Let pity move thee to requite
Our service in the funeral rite.
Our hands shall bring the boughs that, dry
Where elephants have rent them, lie,
Then dig a pit, and light the fire
To burn thee as the laws require.
Canto LXXII. Kabandha's Tale.
Do thou as meed of this declare
Who stole my spouse, his dwelling where.
O, if thou can, I pray thee say,
And let this grace our deeds repay.”
Danu had lent attentive ear
The words which Ráma spoke to hear,
And thus, a speaker skilled and tried,
To that great orator replied:
“No heavenly lore my soul endows,
Naught know I of thy Maithil spouse.
Yet will I, when my shape I wear,
Him who will tell thee all declare.
Then, Ráma, will my lips disclose
His name who well that giant knows.
But till the flames my corse devour
This hidden knowledge mocks my power.
For through that curse's withering taint
My knowledge now is small and faint.
Unknown the giant's very name
Who bore away the Maithil dame.
Cursed for my evil deeds I wore
A shape which all the worlds abhor.
Now ere with wearied steeds the sun
Through western skies his course have run,
Deep in a pit my body lay
And burn it in the wonted way.
When in the grave my corse is placed,
With fire and funeral honours graced,
Then I, great chief, his name will tell
Who knows the giant robber well.
With him, who guides his life aright,
In league of trusting love unite,
And he, O valiant prince, will be
The Ramayana
A faithful friend and aid to thee.
For, Ráma, to his searching eyes
The triple world uncovered lies.
For some dark cause of old, I ween,
Through all the spheres his ways have been.”
Canto LXXIII. Kabandha's Counsel.
The monster ceased: the princely pair
Heard great Kabandha's eager prayer.
Within a mountain cave they sped,
Where kindled fire with care they fed.
Then Lakshmaṇ in his mighty hands
Brought ample store of lighted brands,
And to a pile of logs applied
The flame that ran from side to side.
The spreading glow with gentle force
Consumed Kabandha's mighty corse,
Till the unresting flames had drunk
The marrow of the monstrous trunk,
As balls of butter melt away
Amid the fires that o'er them play.
Then from the pyre, like flame that glows
Undimmed by cloudy smoke, he rose,
In garments pure of spot or speck,
A heavenly wreath about his neck.
Resplendent in his bright attire
He sprang exultant from the pyre.
While from neck, arm, and foot was sent
The flash of gold and ornament.
High on a chariot, bright of hue,
Canto LXXIII. Kabandha's Counsel.
Which swans of fairest pinion drew,
He filled each region of the air
With splendid glow reflected there.
Then in the sky he stayed his car
And called to Ráma from afar:
“Hear, chieftain, while my lips explain
The means to win thy spouse again.
Six plans, O prince, the wise pursue
To reach the aims we hold in view.519
When evils ripening sorely press
They load the wretch with new distress,
So thou and Lakshmaṇ, tried by woe,
Have felt at last a fiercer blow,
And plunged in bitterest grief to-day
Lament thy consort torn away.
There is no course but this: attend;
Make, best of friends, that chief thy friend.
Unless his prospering help thou gain
Thy plans and hopes must all be vain.
O Ráma, hear my words, and seek,
Sugríva, for of him I speak.
His brother Báli, Indra's son,
Expelled him when the fight was won.
With four great chieftains, faithful still,
He dwells on Rishyamúka's hill.—
Fair mountain, lovely with the flow
Of Pampá's waves that glide below,—
Lord of the Vánars520just and true,
Strong, very glorious, bright to view,
Unmatched in counsel, firm and meek,
Bound by each word his lips may speak,
Good, splendid, mighty, bold and brave,
519Peace, war, marching, halting, sowing dissensions, and seeking protection.
520See Book I, Canto XVI.
The Ramayana
Wise in each plan to guide and save.
His brother, fired by lust of sway,
Drove forth the prince in woods to stray.
In all thy search for Sítá he
Thy ready friend and help will be.
With him to aid thee in thy quest
Dismiss all sorrow from thy breast.
Time is a mighty power, and none
His fixed decree can change or shun.
So rich reward thy toil shall bless,
And naught can stay thy sure success.
Speed hence, O chief, without delay,
To strong Sugríva take thy way.
This hour thy footsteps onward bend,
And make that mighty prince thy friend.
With him before the attesting flame
In solemn truth alliance frame.
Nor wilt thou, if thy heart be wise,
Sugríva, Vánar king, despise.
Of boundless strength, all shapes he wears,
He hearkens to a suppliant's prayers,
And, grateful for each kindly deed,
Will help and save in hour of need.
And you, I ween, the power possess
To aid his hopes and give redress.
He, let his cause succeed or fail,
Will help you, and you must prevail.
A banished prince, in fear and woe
He roams where Pampá's waters flow,
True offspring of the Lord of Light
Expelled by Báli's conquering might.
Go, Raghu's son, that chieftain seek
Who dwells on Rishyamúka's peak.
Before the flame thy weapons cast
Canto LXXIV. Kabandha's Death.
And bind the bonds of friendship fast.
For, prince of all the Vánar race,
He in his wisdom knows each place
Where dwell the fierce gigantic brood
Who make the flesh of man their food.
To him, O Raghu's son, to him
Naught in the world is dark or dim,
Where'er the mighty Day-God gleams
Resplendent with a thousand beams.
He over rocky height and hill,
Through gloomy cave, by lake and rill,
Will with his Vánars seek the prize,
And tell thee where thy lady lies.
And he will send great chieftains forth
To east and west and south and north,
To seek the distant spot where she
All desolate laments for thee.
He even in Rávaṇ's halls would find
Thy Sítá, gem of womankind.
Yea, if the blameless lady lay
On Meru's loftiest steep,
Or, far removed from light of day,
Where hell is dark and deep,
That chief of all the Vánar race
His way would still explore,
Meet the cowed giants face to face
And thy dear spouse restore.”
Canto LXXIV. Kabandha's Death.
The Ramayana
When wise Kabandha thus had taught
The means to find the dame they sought,
And urged them onward in the quest,
He thus again the prince addressed:
“This path, O Raghu's son, pursue
Where those fair trees which charm the view,
Extending westward far away,
The glory of their bloom display,
Where their bright leaves Rose-apples show,
And the tall Jak and Mango grow.
Whene'er you will, those trees ascend,
Or the long branches shake and bend,
Their savoury fruit like Amrit eat,
Then onward speed with willing feet.
Beyond this shady forest, decked
With flowering trees, your course direct.
Another grove you then will find
With every joy to take the mind,
Like Nandan with its charms displayed,
Or Northern Kuru's blissful shade;
Where trees distil their balmy juice,
And fruit through all the year produce;
Where shades with seasons ever fair
With Chaitraratha may compare:
Where trees whose sprays with fruit are bowed
Rise like a mountain or a cloud.
There, when you list, from time to time,
The loaded trees may Lakshmaṇ climb,
Or from the shaken boughs supply
Sweet fruit that may with Amrit vie.
The onward path pursuing still
From wood to wood, from hill to hill,
Your happy eyes at length will rest
Canto LXXIV. Kabandha's Death.
On Pampá's lotus-covered breast.
Her banks with gentle slope descend,
Nor stones nor weed the eyes offend,
And o'er smooth beds of silver sand
Lotus and lily blooms expand.
There swans and ducks and curlews play,
And keen-eyed ospreys watch their prey,
And from the limpid waves are heard
Glad notes of many a water-bird.
Untaught a deadly foe to fear
They fly not when a man is near,
And fat as balls of butter they
Will, when you list, your hunger stay.
Then Lakshmaṇ with his shafts will take
The fish that swim the brook and lake,
Remove each bone and scale and fin,
Or strip away the speckled skin,
And then on iron skewers broil
For thy repast the savoury spoil.
Thou on a heap of flowers shalt rest
And eat the meal his hands have dressed,
There shalt thou lie on Pampá's brink,
And Lakshmaṇ's hand shall give thee drink,
Filling a lotus leaf with cool
Pure water from the crystal pool,
To which the opening blooms have lent
The riches of divinest scent.
Beside thee at the close of day
Will Lakshmaṇ through the woodland stray,
And show thee where the monkeys sleep
In caves beneath the mountain steep.
Loud-voiced as bulls they forth will burst
And seek the flood, oppressed by thirst;
Then rest a while, their wants supplied,
The Ramayana
Their well-fed bands on Pampá's side.
Thou roving there at eve shalt see
Rich clusters hang on shrub and tree,
And Pampá flushed with roseate glow,
And at the view forget thy woe.
There shalt thou mark with strange delight
Each loveliest flower that blooms by night,
While lily buds that shrink from day
Their tender loveliness display.
In that far wild no hand but thine
Those peerless flowers in wreaths shall twine:
Immortal in their changeless pride,
Ne'er fade those blooms and ne'er are dried.
There erst on holy thoughts intent
Their days Matanga's pupils spent.
Once for their master food they sought,
And store of fruit and berries brought.
Then as they laboured through the dell
From limb and brow the heat-drops fell:
Thence sprang and bloomed those wondrous trees:
Such holy power have devotees.
Thus, from the hermits' heat-drops sprung,
Their growth is ever fresh and young.
There Śavarí is dwelling yet,
Who served each vanished anchoret.
Beneath the shade of holy boughs
That ancient votaress keeps her vows.
Her happy eyes on thee will fall,
O godlike prince, adored by all,
And she, whose life is pure from sin,
A blissful seat in heaven will win.
But cross, O son of Raghu, o'er,
And stand on Pampá's western shore.
A tranquil hermitage that lies
Canto LXXIV. Kabandha's Death.
Deep in the woods will meet thine eyes.
No wandering elephants invade
The stillness of that holy shade,
But checked by saint Matanga's power
They spare each consecrated bower.
Through many an age those trees have stood
World-famous as Matanga's wood
Still, Raghu's son, pursue thy way:
Through shades where birds are vocal stray,
Fair as the blessed wood where rove
Immortal Gods, or Nandan's grove.
Near Pampá eastward, full in sight,
Stands Rishyamúka's wood-crowned height.
'Tis hard to climb that towering steep
Where serpents unmolested sleep.
The free and bounteous, formed of old
By Brahmá of superior mould,
Who sink when day is done to rest
Reclining on that mountain crest,—
What wealth or joy in dreams they view,
Awaking find the vision true.
But if a villain stained with crime
That holy hill presume to climb,
The giants in their fury sweep
From the hill top the wretch asleep.
There loud and long is heard the roar
Of elephants on Pampá's shore,
Who near Matanga's dwelling stray
And in those waters bathe and play.
A while they revel by the flood,
Their temples stained with streams like blood,
Then wander far away dispersed,
Dark as huge clouds before they burst.
But ere they part they drink their fill
The Ramayana
Of bright pure water from the rill,
Delightful to the touch, where meet
Scents of all flowers divinely sweet,
Then speeding from the river side
Deep in the sheltering thicket hide.
Then bears and tigers shalt thou view
Whose soft skins show the sapphire's hue,
And silvan deer that wander nigh
Shall harmless from thy presence fly.
High in that mountain's wooded side
Is a fair cavern deep and wide,
Yet hard to enter: piles of rock
The portals of the cavern block.521
Fast by the eastern door a pool
Gleams with broad waters fresh and cool,
Where stores of roots and fruit abound,
And thick trees shade the grassy ground.
This mountain cave the virtuous-souled
Sugríva, and his Vánars hold,
And oft the mighty chieftain seeks
The summits of those towering peaks.”
Thus spake Kabandha high in air
His counsel to the royal pair.
Still on his neck that wreath he bore,
And radiance like the sun's he wore.
Their eyes the princely brothers raised
And on that blissful being gazed:
“Behold, we go: no more delay;
Begin,” they cried, “thy heavenward way.”
“Depart,” Kabandha's voice replied,
“Pursue your search, and bliss betide.”
521Or as the commentator Tírtha says, Śilápidháná, rock-covered, may be the
name of the cavern.
Canto LXXV. Savarí.
Thus to the happy chiefs he said,
Then on his heavenward journey sped.
Thus once again Kabandha won
A shape that glittered like the sun
Without a spot or stain.
Thus bade he Ráma from the air
To great Sugríva's side repair
His friendly love to gain.
Canto LXXV. Savarí.
Thus counselled by their friendly guide
On through the wood the princes hied,
Pursuing still the eastern road
To Pampá which Kabandha showed,
Where trees that on the mountains grew
With fruit like honey charmed the view.
They rested weary for the night
Upon a mountain's wooded height,
Then onward with the dawn they hied
And stood on Pampá's western side,
Where Śavarí's fair home they viewed
Deep in that shady solitude.
The princes reached the holy ground
Where noble trees stood thick around,
And joying in the lovely view
Near to the aged votaress drew.
To meet the sons of Raghu came,
With hands upraised, the pious dame,
And bending low with reverence meet
Welcomed them both and pressed their feet.
The Ramayana
Then water, as beseems, she gave,
Their lips to cool, their feet to lave.
To that pure saint who never broke
One law of duty Ráma spoke:
“I trust no cares invade thy peace,
While holy works and zeal increase;
That thou content with scanty food
All touch of ire hast long subdued;
That all thy vows are well maintained
While peace of mind is surely gained,
That reverence of the saints who taught
Thy faithful heart due fruit has brought.”
The aged votaress pure of taint,
Revered by every perfect saint,
Rose to her feet by Ráma's side
And thus in gentle tones replied:
“My penance meed this day I see
Complete, my lord, in meeting thee.
This day the fruit of birth I gain,
Nor have I served the saints in vain.
I reap rich fruits of toil and vow,
And heaven itself awaits me now,
When I, O chief of men, have done
Honour to thee the godlike one.
I feel, great lord, thy gentle eye
My earthly spirit purify,
And I, brave tamer of thy foes,
Shall through thy grace in bliss repose.
Thy feet by Chitrakúṭa strayed
When those great saints whom I obeyed,
In dazzling chariots bright of hue,
Hence to their heavenly mansions flew.
Canto LXXV. Savarí.
As the high saints were borne away
I heard their holy voices say:
“In this pure grove, O devotee,
Prince Ráma soon will visit thee.
When he and Lakshmaṇ seek this shade,
Be to thy guests all honour paid.
Him shalt thou see, and pass away
To those blest worlds which ne'er decay.”
To me, O mighty chief, the best
Of lofty saints these words addressed.
Laid up within my dwelling lie
Fruits of each sort which woods supply,—
Food culled for thee in endless store
From every tree on Pampá's shore.”
Thus to her virtuous guest she sued
And he, with heavenly lore endued,
Words such as these in turn addressed
To her with equal knowledge blest:
“Danu himself the power has told
Of thy great masters lofty-souled.
Now if thou will, mine eyes would fain
Assurance of their glories gain.”
She heard the prince his wish declare:
Then rose she, and the royal pair
Of brothers through the wood she led
That round her holy dwelling spread.
“Behold Matanga's wood” she cried,
“A grove made famous far and wide.
Dark as thick clouds and filled with herds
Of wandering deer, and joyous birds.
In this pure spot each reverend sire
With offerings fed the holy fire.
The Ramayana
See here the western altar stands
Where daily with their trembling hands
The aged saints, so long obeyed
By me, their gifts of blossoms laid.
The holy power, O Raghu's son,
By their ascetic virtue won,
Still keeps their well-loved altar bright,
Filling the air with beams of light.
And those seven neighbouring lakes behold
Which, when the saints infirm and old,
Worn out by fasts, no longer sought,
Moved hither drawn by power of thought.
Look, Ráma, where the devotees
Hung their bark mantles on the trees,
Fresh from the bath: those garments wet
Through many a day are dripping yet.
See, through those aged hermits' power
The tender spray, this bright-hued flower
With which the saints their worship paid,
Fresh to this hour nor change nor fade.
Here thou hast seen each lawn and dell,
And heard the tale I had to tell:
Permit thy servant, lord, I pray,
To cast this mortal shell away,
For I would dwell, this life resigned,
With those great saints of lofty mind,
Whom I within this holy shade
With reverential care obeyed.”
When Ráma and his brother heard
The pious prayer the dame preferred,
Filled full of transport and amazed
They marvelled as her words they praised.
Then Ráma to the votaress said
Canto LXXVI. Pampá.
Whose holy vows were perfected:
“Go, lady, where thou fain wouldst be,
O thou who well hast honoured me.”
Her locks in hermit fashion tied,
Clad in bark coat and black deer-hide,
When Ráma gave consent, the dame
Resigned her body to the flame.
Then like the fire that burns and glows,
To heaven the sainted lady rose,
In all her heavenly garments dressed,
Immortal wreaths on neck and breast,
Bright with celestial gems she shone
Most beautiful to look upon,
And like the flame of lightning sent
A glory through the firmament.
That holy sphere the dame attained,
By depth of contemplation gained,
Where roam high saints with spirits pure
In bliss that shall for aye endure.
Canto LXXVI. Pampá.
When Śavarí had sought the skies
And gained her splendid virtue's prize,
Ráma with Lakshmaṇ stayed to brood
O'er the strange scenes their eyes had viewed.
His mind upon those saints was bent,
For power and might preëminent
And he to musing Lakshmaṇ spoke
The thoughts that in his bosom woke:
The Ramayana
“Mine eyes this wondrous home have viewed
Of those great saints with souls subdued,
Where peaceful tigers dwell and birds,
And deer abound in heedless herds.
Our feet upon the banks have stood
Of those seven lakes within the wood,
Where we have duly dipped, and paid
Libations to each royal shade.
Forgotten now are thoughts of ill
And joyful hopes my bosom fill.
Again my heart is light and gay
And grief and care have passed away.
Come, brother, let us hasten where
Bright Pampá's flood is fresh and fair,
And towering in their beauty near
Mount Rishyamúka's heights appear,
Which, offspring of the Lord of Light,
Still fearing Báli's conquering might,
With four brave chiefs of Vánar race
Sugríva makes his dwelling-place.
I long with eager heart to find
That leader of the Vánar kind,
For on that chief my hopes depend
That this our quest have prosperous end.”
Thus Ráma spoke, in battle tried,
And thus Sumitrá's son replied:
“Come, brother, come, and speed away:
My spirit brooks no more delay.”
Thus spake Sumitrá's son, and then
Forth from the grove the king of men
With his dear brother by his side
To Pampá's lucid waters hied.
He gazed upon the woods where grew
Canto LXXVI. Pampá.
Trees rich in flowers of every hue.
From brake and dell on every side
The curlew and the peacock cried,
And flocks of screaming parrots made
Shrill music in the bloomy shade.
His eager eyes, as on he went,
On many a pool and tree were bent.
Inflamed with love he journeyed on
Till a fair flood before him shone.
He stood upon the water's side
Which streams from distant hills supplied:
Matanga's name that water bore:
There bathed he from the shelving shore.
Then, each on earnest thoughts intent,
Still farther on their way they went.
But Ráma's heart once more gave way
Beneath his grief and wild dismay.
Before him lay the noble flood
Adorned with many a lotus bud.
On its fair banks Aśoka glowed,
And all bright trees their blossoms showed.
Green banks that silver waves confined
With lovely groves were fringed and lined.
The crystal waters in their flow
Showed level sands that gleamed below.
There glittering fish and tortoise played,
And bending trees gave pleasant shade.
There creepers on the branches hung
With lover-like embraces clung.
There gay Gandharvas loved to meet,
And Kinnars sought the calm retreat.
There wandering Yakshas found delight,
Snake-gods and rovers of the night.
Cool were the pleasant waters, gay
The Ramayana
Each tree with creeper, flower, and spray.
There flushed the lotus darkly red,
Here their white glory lilies spread,
Here sweet buds showed their tints of blue:
So carpets gleam with many a hue.
A grove of Mangoes blossomed nigh,
Echoing with the peacock's cry.
When Ráma by his brother's side
The lovely flood of Pampá eyed,
Decked like a beauty, fair to see
With every charm of flower and tree,
His mighty heart with woe was rent
And thus he spoke in wild lament
“Here, Lakshmaṇ, on this beauteous shore,
Stands, dyed with tints of many an ore,
The mountain Rishyamúka bright
With flowery trees that crown each height.
Sprung from the chief who, famed of yore,
The name of Riksharajas bore,
Sugríva, chieftain strong and dread,
Dwells on that mountain's towering head.
Go to him, best of men, and seek
That prince of Vánars on the peak,
I cannot longer brook my pain,
Or, Sítá lost, my life retain.”
Thus by the pangs of love distressed,
His thoughts on Sítá bent,
His faithful brother he addressed,
And cried in wild lament.
He reached the lovely ground that lay
On Pampá's wooded side,
And told in anguish and dismay,
The grief he could not hide.
Canto LXXVI. Pampá.
With listless footsteps faint and slow
His way the chief pursued,
Till Pampá with her glorious show
Of flowering woods he viewed.
Through shades where every bird was found
The prince with Lakshmaṇ passed,
And Pampá with her groves around
Burst on his eyes at last.

Book III. Forest (part1)