50% RAMAYANA / Chapter 3: RAMAYANA CH-3

Chapter 3: RAMAYANA CH-3

o that illustrious penitent.

He saw the glorious lady, screened

From eye of man, and God, and fiend,

Like some bright portent which the care

Of Brahmá launches through the air,

Designed by his illusive art

To flash a moment and depart:

Or like the flame that leaps on high

To sink involved in smoke and die:

Or like the full moon shining through

The wintry mist, then lost to view:

Or like the sun's reflection, cast

Upon the flood, too bright to last:

So was the glorious dame till then

Removed from Gods' and mortals' ken,

Till—such was Gautam's high decree—

Prince Ráma came to set her free.

Then, with great joy that dame to meet,

The sons of Raghu clapped her feet;

And she, remembering Gautam's oath,

With gentle grace received them both;

Then water for their feet she gave,

Guest-gift, and all that strangers crave.

The prince, of courteous rule aware,

Received, as meet, the lady's care.

Then flowers came down in copious rain,

And moving to the heavenly strain

Of music in the skies that rang,

The nymphs and minstrels danced and sang:

And all the Gods with one glad voice

Praised the great dame, and cried, "Rejoice!

Through fervid rites no more defiled,

But with thy husband reconciled."

Gautam, the holy hermit knew—

For naught escaped his godlike view—

That Ráma lodged beneath that shade,

And hasting there his homage paid.

He took Ahalyá to his side,

From sin and folly purified,

And let his new-found consort bear

In his austerities a share.

Then Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,

Welcomed by Gautam, face to face,

Who every highest honour showed,

To Mithilá pursued his road.

Canto L. Janak.

The sons of Raghu journeyed forth,

Bending their steps 'twixt east and north.

Soon, guided by the sage, they found,

Enclosed, a sacrificial ground.

Then to the best of saints, his guide,

In admiration Ráma cried:

"The high-souled king no toil has spared,

But nobly for his rite prepared,

How many thousand Bráhmans here,

From every region, far and near,

Well read in holy lore, appear!

How many tents, that sages screen,

With wains in hundreds, here are seen!

Great Bráhman, let us find a place

Where we may stay and rest a space."

The hermit did as Ráma prayed,

And in a spot his lodging made,

[pg 062]

Far from the crowd, sequestered, clear,

With copious water flowing near.

Then Janak, best of kings, aware

Of Viśvámitra lodging there,

With Śatánanda for his guide—

The priest on whom he most relied,

His chaplain void of guile and stain—

And others of his priestly train,

Bearing the gift that greets the guest,

To meet him with all honour pressed.

The saint received with gladsome mind

Each honour and observance kind:

Then of his health he asked the king,

And how his rites were prospering,

Janak, with chaplain and with priest,

Addressed the hermits, chief and least,

Accosting all, in due degree,

With proper words of courtesy.

Then, with his palms together laid,

The king his supplication made:

"Deign, reverend lord, to sit thee down

With these good saints of high renown."

Then sate the chief of hermits there,

Obedient to the monarch's prayer.

Chaplain and priest, and king and peer,

Sate in their order, far or near.

Then thus the king began to say:

"The Gods have blest my rite to-day,

And with the sight of thee repaid

The preparations I have made.

Grateful am I, so highly blest,

That thou, of saints the holiest,

Hast come, O Bráhman, here with all

These hermits to the festival.

Twelve days, O Bráhman Sage, remain—

For so the learned priests ordain—

And then, O heir of Kuśik's name,

The Gods will come their dues to claim."

With looks that testified delight

Thus spake he to the anchorite,

Then with his suppliant hands upraised,

He asked, as earnestly he gazed:

"These princely youths, O Sage, who vie

In might with children of the sky,

Heroic, born for happy fate,

With elephants' or lions' gait,

Bold as the tiger and the bull,

With lotus eyes so large and full,

Armed with the quiver, sword and bow,

Whose figures like the Aśvins show,

Like children of the heavenly Powers,

Come freely to these shades of ours,—

How have they reached on foot this place?

What do they seek, and what their race?

As sun and moon adorn the sky,

This spot the heroes glorify:

Alike in stature, port, and mien,

The same fair form in each is seen."219

Thus spoke the monarch, lofty-souled,

The saint, of heart unfathomed, told

How, sons of Daśaratha, they

Accompanied his homeward way,

How in the hermitage they dwelt,

And slaughter to the demons dealt:

Their journey till the spot they neared

Whence fair Viśálá's towers appeared:

Ahalyá seen and freed from taint;

Their meeting with her lord the saint;

And how they thither came, to know

The virtue of the famous bow.

Thus Viśvámitra spoke the whole

To royal Janak, great of soul,

And when this wondrous tale was o'er,

The glorious hermit said no more.

Canto LI. Visvámitra.

Wise Viśvámitra's tale was done:

Then sainted Gautam's eldest son,

Great Śatánanda, far-renowned,

Whom long austerities had crowned

With glory—as the news he heard

The down upon his body stirred,—

Filled full of wonder at the sight

Of Ráma, felt supreme delight.

When Śatánanda saw the pair

Of youthful princes seated there,

He turned him to the holy man

Who sate at ease, and thus began:

"And didst thou, mighty Sage, in truth

Show clearly to this royal youth

My mother, glorious far and wide,

Whom penance-rites have sanctified?

And did my glorious mother—she,

Heiress of noble destiny—

Serve her great guest with woodland store,

Whom all should honour evermore?

Didst thou the tale to Ráma tell

Of what in ancient days befell,

The sin, the misery, and the shame

Of guilty God and faithless dame?

And, O thou best of hermits, say,

Did Ráma's healing presence stay

Her trial? was the wife restored

Again to him, my sire and lord?

Say, Hermit, did that sire of mine

Receive her with a soul benign,

When long austerities in time

Had cleansed her from the taint of crime?

[pg 063]

And, son of Kuśik, let me know,

Did my great-minded father show

Honour to Ráma, and regard,

Before he journeyed hitherward?"

The hermit with attentive ear

Marked all the questions of the seer:

To him for eloquence far-famed,

His eloquent reply he framed:

"Yea, 'twas my care no task to shun,

And all I had to do was done;

As Reṇuká and Bhrigu's child,

The saint and dame were reconciled."

When the great sage had thus replied,

To Ráma Śatánanda cried:

"A welcome visit, Prince, is thine,

Thou scion of King Raghu's line.

With him to guide thy way aright,

This sage invincible in might,

This Bráhman sage, most glorious-bright,

By long austerities has wrought

A wondrous deed, exceeding thought:

Thou knowest well, O strong of arm,

This sure defence from scathe and harm.

None, Ráma, none is living now

In all the earth more blest than thou,

That thou hast won a saint so tried

In fervid rites thy life to guide.

Now listen, Prince, while I relate

His lofty deeds and wondrous fate.

He was a monarch pious-souled.

His foemen in the dust he rolled;

Most learned, prompt at duty's claim,

His people's good his joy and aim.

Of old the Lord of Life gave birth

To mighty Kuśa, king of earth.

His son was Kuśanábha, strong,

Friend of the right, the foe of wrong.

Gádhi, whose fame no time shall dim,

Heir of his throne was born to him,

And Viśvámitra, Gádhi's heir,

Governed the land with kingly care.

While years unnumbered rolled away

The monarch reigned with equal sway.

At length, assembling many a band,

He led his warriors round the land—

Complete in tale, a mighty force,

Cars, elephants, and foot, and horse.

Through cities, groves, and floods he passed,

O'er lofty hills, through regions vast.

He reached Vaśishṭha's pure abode,

Where trees, and flowers, and creepers glowed,

Where troops of sylvan creatures fed;

Which saints and angels visited.

Gods, fauns, and bards of heavenly race,

And spirits, glorified the place;

The deer their timid ways forgot,

And holy Bráhmans thronged the spot.

Bright in their souls, like fire, were these,

Made pure by long austerities,

Bound by the rule of vows severe,

And each in glory Brahmá's peer.

Some fed on water, some on air,

Some on the leaves that withered there.

Roots and wild fruit were others' food;

All rage was checked, each sense subdued,

There Bálakhilyas220 went and came,

Now breathed the prayer, now fed the flame:

These, and ascetic bands beside,

The sweet retirement beautified.

Such was Vaśishṭha's blest retreat,

Like Brahmá's own celestial seat,

Which gladdened Viśvámitra's eyes,

Peerless for warlike enterprise.

Canto LII. Vasishtha's Feast.

Right glad was Viśvámitra when

He saw the prince of saintly men.

Low at his feet the hero bent,

And did obeisance, reverent.

The king was welcomed in, and shown

A seat beside the hermit's own,

Who offered him, when resting there,

Fruit in due course, and woodland fare.

And Viśvámitra, noblest king,

Received Vaśishṭha's welcoming,

Turned to his host, and prayed him tell

That he and all with him were well.

Vaśishṭha to the king replied

That all was well on every side,

That fire, and vows, and pupils throve,

And all the trees within the grove.

And then the son of Brahmá, best

Of all who pray with voice suppressed,

Questioned with pleasant words like these

The mighty king who sate at ease:

"And is it well with thee? I pray;

And dost thou win by virtuous sway

Thy people's love, discharging all

The duties on a king that fall?

Are all thy servants fostered well?

Do all obey, and none rebel?

Hast thou, destroyer of the foe,

No enemies to overthrow?

Does fortune, conqueror! still attend

Thy treasure, host, and every friend?

Is it all well? Does happy fate

On sons and children's children wait?"

He spoke. The modest king replied

That all was prosperous far and wide.

[pg 064]

Thus for awhile the two conversed,

As each to each his tale rehearsed,

And as the happy moments flew,

Their joy and friendship stronger grew.

When such discourse had reached an end,

Thus spoke the saint most reverend

To royal Viśvámitra, while

His features brightened with a smile:

"O mighty lord of men. I fain

Would banquet thee and all thy train

In mode that suits thy station high:

And do not thou my prayer deny.

Let my good lord with favour take

The offering that I fain would make,

And let me honour, ere we part,

My royal guest with loving heart."

Him Viśvámitra thus addressed:

"Why make, O Saint, this new request?

Thy welcome and each gracious word

Sufficient honour have conferred.

Thou gavest roots and fruit to eat,

The treasures of this pure retreat,

And water for my mouth and feet;

And—boon I prize above the rest—

Thy presence has mine eyesight blest.

Honoured by thee in every way,

To whom all honour all should pay,

I now will go. My lord, Good-bye!

Regard me with a friendly eye."

Him speaking thus Vaśishṭha stayed,

And still to share his banquet prayed.

The will of Gádhi's son he bent,

And won the monarch to consent,

Who spoke in answer. "Let it be,

Great Hermit, as it pleases thee."

When, best of those who breathe the prayer,

He heard the king his will declare,

He called the cow of spotted skin,

All spot without, all pure within.

"Come, Dapple-skin," he cried, "with speed;

Hear thou my words and help at need.

My heart is set to entertain

This monarch and his mighty train

With sumptuous meal and worthy fare;

Be thine the banquet to prepare.

Each dainty cate, each goodly dish,

Of six-fold taste221 as each may wish—

All these, O cow of heavenly power,

Rain down for me in copious shower:

Viands and drink for tooth and lip,

To eat, to suck, to quaff, to sip—

Of these sufficient, and to spare,

O plenty-giving cow, prepare."

Canto LIII. Visvámitra's Request.

Thus charged, O slayer of thy foes,

The cow from whom all plenty flows,

Obedient to her saintly lord,

Viands to suit each taste, outpoured.

Honey she gave, and roasted grain,

Mead sweet with flowers, and sugar-cane.

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An food of every sort, were there:

Hills of hot rice, and sweetened cakes,

And curdled milk and soup in lakes.

Vast beakers foaming to the brim

With sugared drink prepared for him,

And dainty sweetmeats, deftly made,

Before the hermit's guests were laid.

So well regaled, so nobly fed,

The mighty army banqueted,

And all the train, from chief to least,

Delighted in Vaśishṭha's feast.

Then Viśvámitra, royal sage,

Surrounded by his vassalage,

Prince, peer, and counsellor, and all

From highest lord to lowest thrall,

Thus feasted, to Vaśishṭha cried

With joy, supremely gratified:

"Rich honour I, thus entertained,

Most honourable lord, have gained:

Now hear, before I journey hence,

My words, O skilled in eloquence.

Bought for a hundred thousand kine,

Let Dapple-skin, O Saint, be mine.

A wondrous jewel is thy cow,

And gems are for the monarch's brow.222

To me her rightful lord resign

This Dapple-skin thou callest thine."

The great Vaśishṭha, thus addressed,

Arch-hermit of the holy breast,

To Viśvámitra answer made,

The king whom all the land obeyed:

"Not for a hundred thousand,—nay,

Not if ten million thou wouldst pay,

With silver heaps the price to swell,—

Will I my cow, O Monarch, sell.

Unmeet for her is such a fate.

That I my friend should alienate.

As glory with the virtuous, she

For ever makes her home with me.

On her mine offerings which ascend

To Gods and spirits all depend:

My very life is due to her,

My guardian, friend, and minister.

[pg 065]

The feeding of the sacred flame,223

The dole which living creatures claim.224

The mighty sacrifice by fire,

Each formula the rites require,225

And various saving lore beside,

Are by her aid, in sooth, supplied.

The banquet which thy host has shared,

Believe it, was by her prepared,

In her mine only treasures lie,

She cheers mine heart and charms mine eye.

And reasons more could I assign

Why Dapple-skin can ne'er be thine."

The royal sage, his suit denied,

With eloquence more earnest cried:

"Tusked elephants, a goodly train,

Each with a golden girth and chain,

Whose goads with gold well fashioned shine—

Of these be twice seven thousand thine.

And four-horse cars with gold made bright,

With steeds most beautifully white,

Whose bells make music as they go,

Eight hundred, Saint, will I bestow.

Eleven thousand mettled steeds

From famous lands, of noble breeds—

These will I gladly give, O thou

Devoted to each holy vow.

Ten million heifers, fair to view,

Whose sides are marked with every hue—

These in exchange will I assign;

But let thy Dapple-skin be mine.

Ask what thou wilt, and piles untold

Of priceless gems and gleaming gold,

O best of Bráhmans, shall be thine;

But let thy Dapple-skin be mine."

The great Vaśishṭha, thus addressed,

Made answer to the king's request:

"Ne'er will I give my cow away,

My gem, my wealth, my life and stay.

My worship at the moon's first show,

And at the full, to her I owe;

And sacrifices small and great,

Which largess due and gifts await.

From her alone, their root, O King,

My rites and holy service spring.

What boots it further words to say?

I will not give my cow away

Who yields me what I ask each day."

Canto LIV. The Battle.

As Saint Vaśishṭha answered so,

Nor let the cow of plenty go,

The monarch, as a last resource,

Began to drag her off by force.

While the king's servants tore away

Their moaning, miserable prey,

Sad, sick at heart, and sore distressed,

She pondered thus within her breast:

"Why am I thus forsaken? why

Betrayed by him of soul most high.

Vaśishṭha, ravished by the hands

Of soldiers of the monarch's bands?

Ah me! what evil have I done

Against the lofty-minded one,

That he, so pious, can expose

The innocent whose love he knows?"

In her sad breast as thus she thought,

And heaved deep sighs with anguish fraught,

With wondrous speed away she fled,

And back to Saint Vaśishṭha sped.

She hurled by hundreds to the ground

The menial crew that hemmed her round,

And flying swifter than the blast

Before the saint herself she cast.

There Dapple-skin before the saint

Stood moaning forth her sad complaint,

And wept and lowed: such tones as come

From wandering cloud or distant drum.

"O son of Brahmá," thus cried she,

"Why hast thou thus forsaken me,

That the king's men, before thy face,

Bear off thy servant from her place?"

Then thus the Bráhman saint replied

To her whose heart with woe was tried,

And grieving for his favourite's sake,

As to a suffering sister spake:

"I leave thee not: dismiss the thought;

Nor, duteous, hast thou failed in aught.

This king, o'erweening in the pride

Of power, has reft thee from my side.

Little, I ween, my strength could do

'Gainst him, a mighty warrior too.

Strong, as a soldier born and bred,—

Great, as a king whom regions dread.

See! what a host the conqueror leads,

With elephants, and cars, and steeds.

O'er countless bands his pennons fly;

So is he mightier far than I."

[pg 066]

He spoke. Then she, in lowly mood,

To that high saint her speech renewed:

"So judge not they who wisest are:

The Bráhman's might is mightier far.

For Bráhmans strength from Heaven derive,

And warriors bow when Bráhmans strive.

A boundless power 'tis thine to wield:

To such a king thou shouldst not yield,

Who, very mighty though he be,—

So fierce thy strength,—must bow to thee.

Command me, Saint. Thy power divine

Has brought me here and made me thine;

And I, howe'er the tyrant boast,

Will tame his pride and slay his host."

Then cried the glorious sage: "Create

A mighty force the foe to mate."

She lowed, and quickened into life,

Pahlavas,226 burning for the strife,

King Viśvámitra's army slew

Before the very leader's view.

The monarch in excessive ire,

His eyes with fury darting fire,

Rained every missile on the foe

Till all the Pahlavas were low.

She, seeing all her champions slain,

Lying by thousands on the plain.

Created, by her mere desire,

Yavans and Śakas, fierce and dire.

And all the ground was overspread

With Yavans and with Śakas dread:

A host of warriors bright and strong,

And numberless in closest throng:

The threads within the lotus stem,

So densely packed, might equal them.

In gold-hued mail 'against war's attacks,

Each bore a sword and battle-axe,

The royal host, where'er these came,

Fell as if burnt with ravening flame.

The monarch, famous through the world

Again his fearful weapons hurled,

That made Kámbojas,227 Barbars,228 all,

With Yavans, troubled, flee and fall.

Canto LV. The Hermitage Burnt.

So o'er the field that host lay strown,

By Viśvámitra's darts o'erthrown.

Then thus Vaśishṭha charged the cow:

"Create with all thy vigour now."

Forth sprang Kámbojas, as she lowed;

Bright as the sun their faces glowed,

Forth from her udder Barbars poured,—

Soldiers who brandished spear and sword,—

And Yavans with their shafts and darts,

And Śakas from her hinder parts.

And every pore upon her fell,

And every hair-producing cell,

With Mlechchhas229 and Kirátas230 teemed,

And forth with them Hárítas streamed.

And Viśvámitra's mighty force,

Car, elephant, and foot, and horse,

Fell in a moment's time, subdued

By that tremendous multitude.

The monarch's hundred sons, whose eyes

Beheld the rout in wild surprise,

Armed with all weapons, mad with rage,

Rushed fiercely on the holy sage.

One cry he raised, one glance he shot,

And all fell scorched upon the spot:

Burnt by the sage to ashes, they

With horse, and foot, and chariot, lay.

The monarch mourned, with shame and pain,

His army lost, his children slain,

Like Ocean when his roar is hushed,

Or some great snake whose fangs are crushed:

[pg 067]

Or as in swift eclipse the Sun

Dark with the doom he cannot shun:

Or a poor bird with mangled wing—

So, reft of sons and host, the king

No longer, by ambition fired,

The pride of war his breast inspired.

He gave his empire to his son—

Of all he had, the only one:

And bade him rule as kings are taught

Then straight a hermit-grove he sought.

Far to Himálaya's side he fled,

Which bards and Nágas visited,

And, Mahádeva's231 grace to earn,

He gave his life to penance stern.

A lengthened season thus passed by,

When Śiva's self, the Lord most High,

Whose banner shows the pictured bull,232

Appeared, the God most bountiful:

"Why fervent thus in toil and pain?

What brings thee here? what boon to gain?

Thy heart's desire, O Monarch, speak:

I grant the boons which mortals seek."

The king, his adoration paid,

To Mahádeva answer made:

"If thou hast deemed me fit to win

Thy favour, O thou void of sin,

On me, O mighty God, bestow

The wondrous science of the bow,

All mine, complete in every part,

With secret spell and mystic art.

To me be all the arms revealed

That Gods, and saints, and Titans wield,

And every dart that arms the hands

Of spirits, fiends and minstrel bands,

Be mine, O Lord supreme in place,

This token of thy boundless grace."

The Lord of Gods then gave consent,

And to his heavenly mansion went.

Triumphant in the arms he held,

The monarch's breast with glory swelled.

So swells the ocean, when upon

His breast the full moon's beams have shone.

Already in his mind he viewed

Vaśishṭha at his feet subdued.

He sought that hermit's grove, and there

Launched his dire weapons through the air,

Till scorched by might that none could stay

The hermitage in ashes lay.

Where'er the inmates saw, aghast,

The dart that Viśvámitra cast,

To every side they turned and fled

In hundreds forth disquieted.

Vaśishṭha's pupils caught the fear,

And every bird and every deer,

And fled in wild confusion forth

Eastward and westward, south and north,

And so Vaśishṭha's holy shade

A solitary wild was made,

Silent awhile, for not a sound

Disturbed the hush that was around.

Vaśishṭha then, with eager cry,

Called, "Fear not, friends, nor seek to fly.

This son of Gádhi dies to-day,

Like hoar-frost in the morning's ray."

Thus having said, the glorious sage

Spoke to the king in words of rage:

"Because thou hast destroyed this grove

Which long in holy quiet throve,

By folly urged to senseless crime,

Now shalt thou die before thy time."

Canto LVI. Visvámitra's Vow.

Cont- Ch 4

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