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Chapters 35
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  1 NÁRAD  

To sainted Nárad, prince of those Whose lore in words of wisdom flows. Whose constant care and chief delight, Were Scripture and ascetic rite, The good Válmíki, first and best Of hermit saints, these words addressed:  'In all this world, I pray thee, who Is virtuous, heroic, true? Firm in his vows, of grateful mind, To every creature good and kind? Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise, Alone most fair to all men's eyes? Devoid of envy, firm, and sage, Whose tranquil soul ne'er yields to rage? Whom, when his warrior wrath is high, Do Gods embattled fear and fly? Whose noble might and gentle skill The triple world can guard from ill? Who is the best of princes, he Who loves his people's good to see? The store of bliss, the living mine Where brightest joys and virtues shine? Queen Fortune's   best and dearest friend, Whose steps her choicest gifts attend? Who may with Sun and Moon compare, With Indra,  Vishnu,   Fire, and Air? Grant, Saint divine,   the boon I ask, For thee, I ween, an easy task, To whom the power is given to know If such a man breathe here below.'

Then Nárad, clear before whose eye The present, past, and future lie, Made ready answer: 'Hermit, where Are graces found so high and rare? Yet listen, and my tongue shall tell In whom alone these virtues dwell. From old Ikshváku's  line he came, Known to the world by Ráma's name: With soul subdued, a chief of might, In Scripture versed, in glory bright, His steps in virtue's paths are bent, Obedient, pure, and eloquent. In each emprise he wins success, And dying foes his power confess. Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb, Fortune has set her mark on him. Graced with a conch-shell's triple line, His threat displays the auspicious sign. 

High destiny is clear impressed On massive jaw and ample chest, His mighty shafts he truly aims, And foemen in the battle tames. * Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown, Embedded lies his collar-bone. His lordly steps are firm and free, His strong arms reach below his knee;  All fairest graces join to deck His head, his brow, his stately neck, And limbs in fair proportion set: The manliest form e'er fashioned yet. Graced with each high imperial mark, His skin is soft and lustrous dark. Large are his eyes that sweetly shine With majesty almost divine. His plighted word he ne'er forgets; On erring sense a watch he sets. By nature wise, his teacher's skill Has trained him to subdue his will. Good, resolute and pure, and strong, He guards mankind from scathe and wrong, And lends his aid, and ne'er in vain, The cause of justice to maintain. Well has he studied o'er and o'er The Vedas  and their kindred lore.

Well skilled is he the bow to draw,  Well trained in arts and versed in law; High-souled and meet for happy fate, Most tender and compassionate; The noblest of all lordly givers, Whom good men follow, as the rivers Follow the King of Floods, the sea: So liberal, so just is he. The joy of Queen Kaus'alyá's  heart, In every virtue he has part: Firm as Himálaya's  snowy steep, Unfathomed like the mighty deep: The peer of Vishnu's power and might, And lovely as the Lord of Night;  Patient as Earth, but, roused to ire, Fierce as the world-destroying fire; In bounty like the Lord of Gold,  And Justice self ia human mould.

With him, his best and eldest son, By all his princely virtues won King Das'aratha  willed to share His kingdom as the Regent Heir. But when Kaikeyí, youngest queen, With eyes of envious hate had seen The solemn pomp and regal state Prepared the prince to consecrate, She bade the hapless king bestow Two gifts he promised long ago, That Ráma to the woods should flee, And that her child the heir should be.

By chains of duty firmly tied, Thw wretched king perforce complied.

Ráma, to please Kaikeyí went Obedient forth to banishment. Then Lakshman's truth was nobly shown, Then were his love and courage known, When for his brother's sake he dared All perils, and his exile shared. And Sítá, Ráma's darling wife, Loved even as he loved his life, Whom happy marks combined to bless, A miracle of loveliness, Of Janak's royal lineage sprung, Most excellent of women, clung To her dear lord, like Rohiní Rejoicing with the Moon to be.   The King and people, sad of mood, The hero's car awhile pursued. But when Prince Ráma lighted down At S'riugavera's pleasant town, Where Gangá's holy waters flow, He bade his driver turn and go. Guha, Nishádas' king, he met, And on the farther bank was set. Then on from wood to wood they strayed, O'er many a stream, through constant shade, As Bharadvája bade them, till They came to Chitrakúta's hill. And Ráma there, with Lakshman's aid, A pleasant little cottage made, And spent his days with Sítá, dressed

In coat of bark and deerskin vest.   And Chitrakuta grew to be As bright with those illustrious three An Meru's   sacred peaks that shine With glory, when the Gods recline Beneath them: Siva's self between The Lord of Gold and Beauty's Queen.

The aged king for Rama pined, And for the skies the earth resigned, Bharat, his son, refused to reign, Though urged by all the twice-born train. Forth to the woods he fared to meet Hia brother, fell before his feet, And cried, 'Thy claim all men allow: O come, our lord and king be thou.' But Rama nobly chose to be Observant of his sire's decree. He placed his sandals in his hand A pledge that he would rule the land: And bade his brother turn again. Then Bharat. finding prayer was vain, The sandals took and went away; Nor in Ayodhyá would he stay. But turned to Nandigráma, where He ruled the realm with watchful care, Still longing eagerly to learn Tidings of Ráma's safe return.

Then lest the people should repeat Their visit to his calm retreat, Away from Chitrakúta's hill Fared Ráma ever onward till

Beneath the shady trees he stood Of Dandaká's primeval wood, Virádha, giant fiend, he slew, And then Agastya's friendship knew. Counselled by him he gained the sword And bow of Indra, heavenly lord: A pair of quivers too, that bore Of arrows an exhaustless store. While there he dwelt in greenwood shade The trembling hermits sought his aid, And bade him with his sword and bow Destroy the fiends who worked them woe: To come like Indra strong and brave, A guardian God to help and save. And Ráma's falchion left its trace Deep cut on Súrpanakhá's face: A hideous giantess who came Burning for him with lawless flame. Their sister's cries the giants heard. And vengeance in each bosom stirred: The monster of the triple head. And Dúshan to the contest sped. But they and myriad fiends beside Beneath the might of Ráma died.

When Rávan, dreaded warrior, knew The slaughter of his giant crew: Rávan, the king, whose name of fear Earth, hell, and heaven all shook to hear: He bade the fiend Márícha aid The vengeful plot his fury laid. In vain the wise Márícha tried To turn him from his course aside: Not Rávan's self, he said, might hope With Ráma and his strength to cope. Impelled by fate and blind with rage He came to Ráma's hermitage. There, by Márícha's magic art, He wiled the princely youths apart, The vulture slew, and bore away The wife of Ráma as his prey. The son of Raghu came and found Jatáyu slain upon the ground. He rushed within his leafy cot; He sought his wife, but found her not. Then, then the hero's senses failed; In mad despair he wept and wailed, Upon the pile that bird he laid, And still in quest of Sitá strayed. A hideous giant then he saw, Kabandha named, a shape of awe.

The monstrous fiend he smote and slew, And in the flame the body threw; When straight from out the funeral flame In lovely form Kabandha came, And bade him seek in his distress A wise and holy hermitess. By counsel of this saintly dame To Pampá's pleasant flood he came, And there the steadfast friendship won Of Hanumán the Wind-God's son. Counselled by him he told his grief To great Sugríva, Vánar chief, Who, knowing all the tale, before The sacred flame alliance swore. Sugríva to his new-found friend Told his own story to the end: His hate of Báli for the wrong And insult he had borne so long. And Ráma lent a willing ear And promised to allay his fear. Sugríva warned him of the might Of Báli, matchless in the fight, And, credence for his tale to gain, Showed the huge fiend  by Báli slain. The prostrate corpse of mountain size Seemed nothing in the hero's eyes; He lightly kicked it, as it lay, And cast it twenty leagues  away. To prove his might his arrows through Seven palms in line, uninjured, flew. He cleft a mighty hill apart, And down to hell he hurled his dart, Then high Sugríva's spirit rose, Assured of conquest o'er his foes. With his new champion by his side To vast Kishkindhá's cave he hied. Then, summoned by his awful shout, King Báli came in fury out, First comforted his trembling wife, Then sought Sugríva in the strife. One shaft from Ráma's deadly bow The monarch in the dust laid low. Then Ráma bade Sugríva reign In place of royal Báli slain. Then speedy envoys hurried forth Eastward and westward, south and north, Commanded by the grateful king Tidings of Ráma's spouse to bring.

Then by Sampáti's counsel led, Brave Hanumán, who mocked at dread, Sprang at one wild tremendous leap Two hundred leagues across the deep. To Lanká's town he urged his way, Where Rávan held his royal sway.

There pensive 'neath As'oka boughs He found poor Sitá, Ráma's spouse. He gave the hapless girl a ring, A token from her lord and king. A pledge from her fair hand he bore; Then battered down the garden door. Five captains of the host be slew, Seven sons of councillors o'erthrew; Crushed youthful Aksha on the field, Then to his captors chose to yield. Soon from their bonds his limbs were free, But honouring the high decree Which Brahmá had pronounced of yore, He calmly all their insults bore. The town he burnt with hostile flame, And spoke again with Ráma's dame, Then swiftly back to Ráma flew With tidings of the interview.    Then with Sugríva for his guide, Came Ráma to the ocean side. He smote the sea with shafts as bright As sunbeams in their summer height, And quick appeared the Rivers' King Obedient to the summoning. A bridge was thrown by Nala o'er The narrow sea from shore to shore.   They crossed to Lanká's golden town, Where Ráma's hand smote Rávan down. Vibhishan there was left to reign Over his brother's wide domain. To meet her husband Sitá came; But Ráma, stung with ire and shame, With bitter words his wife addressed Before the crowd that round her pressed. But Sitá, touched with noble ire, Gave her fair body to the fire. Then straight the God of Wind appeared, And words from heaven her honour cleared. And Ráma clasped his wife again, Uninjured, pure from spot and stain, Obedient to the Lord of Fire And the high mandate of his sire. Led by the Lord who rules the sky, The Gods and heavenly saints drew nigh, And honoured him with worthy meed, Rejoicing in each glorious deed. His task achieved, his foe removed,

He triumphed, by the Gods approved, By grace of Heaven he raised to life The chieftains slain in mortal strife; Then in the magic chariot through The clouds to Nandigráma flew. Met by his faithful brothers there, He loosed his votive coil of hair: Thence fair Ayodhyá's town he gained, And o'er his father's kingdom reigned. Disease or famine ne'er oppressed His happy people, richly blest With all the joys of ample wealth, Of sweet content and perfect health. No widow mourned her well-loved mate, No sire his son's untimely fate. They feared not storm or robber's hand; No fire or flood laid waste the land: The Golden Age had come again To bless the days of Ráma's reign.    From him, the great and glorious king, Shall many a princely scion spring. And he shall rule, beloved by men, Ten thousand years and hundreds ten,  And when his life on earth is past To Brahmá's world shall go at last.'    Whoe'er this noble poem reads That tells the tale of Ráma's deeds, Good as the Scriptures, he shall be From every sin and blemish free. Whoever reads the saving strain, With all his kin the heavens shall gain. Bráhmans who read shall gather hence The highest praise for eloquence. The warrior, o'er the laud shall reign, The merchant, luck in trade obtain; And S'údras listening  ne'er shall fail To reap advantage from the tale. 


  2 Brahma's Visit  

Válmíki, graceful speaker,heard, To highest admiration stirred. To him whose fame the tale rehearsed He paid his mental worship first; Then with his pupil humbly bent Before the saint most eloquent. Thus honoured and dismissed the seer Departed to his heavenly sphere. Then from his cot Válmíki hied To Tamasá's sequestered side, Not far remote from Gangáa's tide. He stood and saw the ripples roll Pellucid o'er a pebbly shoal. To Bharadvája by his side He turned in ecstasy, and cried: 'See, pupil dear, this lovely sight, The smooth-floored shallow, pure and bright, With not a speck or shade to mar, And clear as good men's bosoms are. Here on the brink thy pitcher lay, And bring my zone of bark, I pray. Here will I bathe: the rill has not, To lave the limbs a fairer spot. Do quickly as I bid, nor waste The precious time; away, and haste.'    Obedient to his master's best Quick from the cot he brought the vest; The hermit took it from his hand, And tightened round his waist the band; Then duly dipped and bathed him there, And muttered low his secret prayer. To spirits and to Gods he made Libation of the stream, and strayed Viewing the forest deep and wide That spread its shade on every side. Close by the bank he saw a pair Of curlews sporting fearless there. But suddenly with evil mind An outcast fowler stole behind, And, with an aim too sure and true, The male bird near the hermit slew.

The wretched hen in wild despair With fluttering pinions beat the air, And shrieked a long and bitter cry When low on earth she saw him lie, Her loved companion, quivering, dead, His dear wings with his lifebiood red; And for her golden crested mate She mourned, and was disconsolate.    The hermit saw the slaughtered bird, And all his heart with ruth was stirred. The fowler's impious deed distressed His gentle sympathetic breast, And while the curlew's sad cries rang Within his ears, the hermit sang: 'No fame be thine for endless time, Because, base outcast, of thy crime, Whose cruel hand was fain to slay One of this gentle pair at play!' E'en as he spoke his bosom wrought And laboured with the wondering thought What was the speech his ready tongue Had uttered when his heart was wrung. He pondered long upon the speech, Recalled the words and measured each, And thus exclaimed the saintly guide To Bharadvája by his side: 'With equal lines of even feet, With rhythm and time and tone complete, The measured form of words I spoke In shock of grief be termed a s'loke.'   And Bharadvája, nothing slow His faithful love and zeal to show, Answered those words of wisdom, 'Be The name, my lord, as pleases thee.'    As rules prescribe the hermit took Some lustral water from the brook. But still on this his constant thought Kept brooding, as his home he sought; While Bharadvája paced behind, A pupil sage of lowly mind, And in his hand a pitcher bore With pure fresh water brimming o'er. Soon as they reached their calm retreat The holy hermit took his seat; His mind from worldly cares recalled, And mused in deepest thought enthralled.    Then glorious Brahmá,  Lord Most High. Creator of the earth and sky, The four-faced God, to meet the sage Came to Válmíki's hermitage. Soon as the mighty God he saw, Up sprang the saint in wondering awe. Mute, with clasped hands, his head he bent, And stood before him reverent. His honoured guest he greeted well, Who bade him of his welfare tell; Gave water for his blessed feet, Brought offerings,  and prepared a seat, In honoured place the God Most High Sate down, and bade the saint sit nigh. There sate before Válmíki's eyes The Father of the earth and skies; But still the hermit's thoughts were bent On one thing only, all intent On that poor curlew's mournful fate Lamenting for her slaughtered mate; And still his lips, in absent mood, The verse that told his grief, renewed: 'Woe to the fowler's impious hand That did the deed that folly planned; That could to needless death devote The curlew of the tuneful throat!'    The heavenly Father smiled in glee, And said, 'O best of hermits', see, A verse, unconscious thou hast made; No longer be the task delayed. Seek not to trace, with labour vain, The unpremeditated strain. The tuneful lines thy lips rehearsed Spontaneous from thy bosom burst, Then come, O best of seers, relate The life of Ráma good and great, The tale that saintly Nárad told, In all its glorious length unfold. Of all the deeds his arm has done Upon this earth, omit not one, And thus the noble life record Of that wise, brave, and virtuous lord.

His every act to day displayed, His secret life to none betrayed: How Lakshman, how the giants fought; With high emprise and hidden thought: And all that Janak's child befell Where all could see, where none could tell, The whole of this shall truly be Made known, O best of saints, to thee. In all thy poem, through my grace, No word of falsehood shall have place. Begin the story, aud rehearse The tale divine in charming verse. As long as in this firm-set land The streams shall flow, the mountains stand, So long throughout the world, be sure, The great Rámáyan shall endure.  While the Rámáyan's ancient strain Shall glorious in the earth remain, To higher spheres shalt thou arise And dwell with me above the skies!    He spoke, and vanished into air, And left Válmíki wondering there. The pupils of the holy man, Moved by their love of him, began To chant that verse, and ever more They marvelled as they sang it o'er: 'Behold, the four-lined balanced rime, Repeated over many a time, In words that from the hermit broke In shock of grief, becomes a s'loke.' This measure now Válmíki chose Wherein his story to compose. In hundreds of such verses, sweet With equal lines and even feet, The saintly poet, lofty-souled, The glorious deeds of Ráma told.

  3 Argument  

The hermit thus with watchful heed Received the poem's pregnant seed, And looked with eager thought around If fuller knowledge might be found.

His lips with water first bedewed, He sate, in reverent attitude On holy grass, the points all bent Together toward the orient; And thus in meditation he Entered the path of poesy. Then clearly, through his virtue's might, All lay discovered to his sight, Whate'er befell, through all their life, Ráma, his brother, and his wife: And Das'aratha and each queen At every time, in every scene: His people too, of every sort; The nobles of his princely court: Whate'er was said, whate'er decreed, Each time they sate each plan and deed: For holy thought and fervent rite Had so refined his keener sight That by his sanctity his view The present, past, and future knew, And he with mental eye could grasp, Like fruit within his fingers clasp, The life of Ráma, great and good, Roaming with Sitá in the wood. He told, with secret piercing eyes, The tale of Ráma's high emprise. Each listening ear that shall entice, A sea of pearls of highest price. Thus good Válmíki, sage divine, Rehearsed the tale of Raghu's line, As Nárad, heavenly saint, before Had traced the story's outline o'er. He sang of Ráma's princely birth, His kindness and heroic worth; His love for all, his patient youth, His gentleness and constant truth, And many a tale and legend old By holy Vis'vámitra told. How Janak's child he wooed and won, Aud broke the bow that bent to none. How he with every virtue fraught His namesake Ráma met and fought. The choice of Ráma for the throne; The malice by Kalseyí shown, Whose evil counsel marred the plan And drove him forth a banisht man. How the king grieved and groaned,and cried,

And swooned away and pining died. The subjects' woe when thus bereft; And how the following crowds he left: With Guha talked, and firmly stern Ordered his driver to return. How Gangá's farther shore he gained; By Bharadvája entertained, By whose advice be journeyed still And came to Chitrakúta's hill. How there he dwelt and built a cot; How Bharat journeyed to the spot; His earnest supplication made; Drink-offerings to their father paid; The sandals given by Ráma's hand, As emblems of his right to stand: How from his presence Bharat went And years in Nandigráma spent. How Ráma entered Dandak wood And in Sutíkhna's presence stood. The favour Anasúyá showed, The wondrous balsam she bestowed. How Sárabhangá's dwelling place They sought; saw Indra face to face; The meeting with Agastya gained; The heavenly bow from him obtained. How Ráma with Virádha met; Their home in Panchavata set. How S'úrpanakhá underwent The mockery and disfigurement. Of Trígirá's and Khara's fall, Of Rávan roused at vengeance call, Máricha doomed, without escape; The fair Videhan lady's rape. How Ráma wept and raved in vain, And how the Vulture-king was slain. How Ráma fierce Kabandha slew; Then to the side of Pampá drew. Met Hanumán, and her whose vows Were kept beneath the greenwood boughs. How Raghu's son the lofty-souled, On Pampá's bank wept uncontrolled, Then journeyed, Rishyamúk to reach, And of Sugríva then had speech. The friendship made, which both had sought: How Báli and Sugríva fought. How Báli in the strife was slain, And how Sugríva came to reign. The treaty, Tára's wild lament; The rainy nights in watching spent. The wrath of Raghu's lion son; The gathering of the hosts in one. The sending of the spies about, And all the regions pointed out. The ring by Ráma's hand bestowed; The cave wherein the bear abode. The fast proposed, their lives to end; Sampati gained to be their friend.

The scaling of the hill, the leap Of Hanumán across the deep. Ocean's command that bade them seek Maináka of the lofty peak. The death of Sinhiká, the sight Of Lanká with her palace bright How Hanuman stole in at eve; His plan the giants to deceive. How through the square he made his way To chambers where the women lay, Within the As'oka garden came And there found Ráma's captive dame, His colloquy with her he sought, And giving of the ring he brought. How Sítá gave a gem o'erjoyed; How Hanumán the grove destroyed, How giantesses trembling fled, And servant fiends were smitten dead. How Hanumán was seized; their ire When Lanká blazed with hostile fire. His leap across the sea once more; The eating of the honey store, How Ráma he consoled, and how He showed the gem from Sítá's brow, With Ocean, Ráma's interview; The bridge that Nala o'er it threw. The crossing, and the sitting down At night round Lanká's royal town. The treaty with Vibhíshan made: The plan for Rávan's slaughter laid. How Kumbhakarna in his pride And Meghanáda fought and died. How Rávan in the fight was slain, And captive Sítá brought again. Vibhíshan set upon the throne; The flying chariot Pushpak shown. How Brahmá and the Gods appeared, And Sítá's doubted honour cleared. How In the flying car they rode To Bháradvája's cabin abode, The Wind-God's son sent on afar; How Bharat met the flying car. How Ráma then was king ordained; The legions their discharge obtained. How Ráma cast his queen away; How grew the people's love each day. Thus did the saint Válmíki tell Whate'er in Ráma's life befell, And in the closing verse all That yet to come will once befall

  4 Rhapsodists  

When to the end the tale was brought, Rose in the sage's mind the thought; Now who throughout this earth will go, And tell it forth that all may know?'

As thus he mused with anxious breast, Behold, in hermit's raiment dressed, Kus'a and Lava came to greet Their master and embrace his feet. The twins he saw, that princely pair Sweet-voiced, who dwelt beside him there None for the task could be more fit, For skilled were they in Holy Writ; And so the great Rámáyan, fraught With lore divine, to them he taught: The lay whose verses sweet and clear Take with delight the listening ear, That tell of Sítá's noble life And Rávan's fall in battle strife. Great joy to all who hear they bring, Sweet to recite and sweet to sing. For music's sevenfold notes are there, And triple measure, wrought with care With melody and tone and time, And flavours that enhance the rime: Heroic might has ample place, And loathing of the false and base, With anger, mirth, and terror, blent With tenderness, surprise, content. When, half the hermit's grace to gain, And half because they loved the strain, The youth within their hearts had stored The poem that his lips outpoured, Válmíki kissed them on the head, As at his feet they bowed, and said 'Recite ye this heroic song In tranquil shades where sages throng Recite it where the good resort, In lowly home and royal court,' The hermit ceased. The tuneful pair Like heavenly minstrels sweet and fair In music's art divinely skilled, Their saintly master's word fulfilled. Like Ráma's self, from whom they came, They shared their size in face and frame,

As though from some fair sculptured stone Two selfsame images had grown. Sometimes the pair rose up to sing, Surrounded by a holy ring, Where seated on the grass bad met Full many a musing anchoret. Then tears bedimmed those gentle eyes, As transport took them and surprise, And as they listened every one Cried in delight, Well done! Well done! Those sages versed in holy lore Praised the sweet minstrels more and more: And wondered at the singers' skill, And the bard's verses sweeter still, Which laid so clear before the eye The glorious deeds of days gone by. Thus by the virtuous hermits praised, Inspirited their voice they raised. Pleased with the song this holy man Would give the youths a water-can; One gave a fair ascetic dress, Or sweet fruit from the wilderness. One saint a black-deer's hide would bring, And one a sacrificial string: One, a clay pitcher from his hoard, And one, a twisted munja cord. One in his joy an axe would find, One, braid, their plaited locks to bind. One gave a sacrificial cup, One rope to tie their fagots up; While fuel at their feet was laid, Or hermit's stool of fig-tree made. All gave, or if they gave not, none Forgot at least a benison. Some saints, delighted with their lays, Would promise health and length of days; Others with surest words would add Some boon to make their spirit glad. In such degree of honour then That song was held by holy men: That living song which life can give, By which shall many a minstrel live. In seat of kings, in crowded hall, They sang the poem, praised of all. And Ráma chanced to hear their lay, While he the votive steed would slay, And sent fit messengers to bring The minstrel pair before the king. They came, and found the monarch high Enthroned in gold, his brothers nigh; While many a minister below, And noble, sate in lengthened row.

The youthful pair awhile he viewed Graceful in modest attitude, And then in words like these addressed His brother Lakshman and the rest: 'Come, listen to the wondrous strain Recited by these godlike twain. Sweet singers of a story fraught With melody and lofty thought.'    The pair, with voices sweet and strong, Rolled the full tide of noble song, With tone and accent deftly blent To suit the changing argument. Mid that assembly loud and clear Rang forth that lay so sweet to hear, That universal rapture stole Through each man's frame and heart and soul. 'These minstrels, blest with every sign That marks a high and princely line,    In holy shades who dwell, Enshrined in Saint Válmiki's lay, A monument to live for aye,    My deeds in song shall tell.' Thus Ráma spoke: their breasts were fired, And the great tale, as if inspired,    The youths began to sing, While every heart with transport swelled, And mute and rapt attention held    The concourse and the king,

  5 Ayodhya  
'Ikshváku's sons from days of old Were ever brave and mighty-souled. The land their arms had made their own Was bounded by the sea alone. Their holy works have won them praise, Through countless years, from Manu's days. Their ancient sire was Sagar, he Whose high command dug out the sea: With sixty thousand sons to throng Around him as he marched along. From them this glorious tale proceeds; The great Rámáyan tells their deeds. This noble song whose lines contain, Lessons of duty, love, and gain, We two will now at length recite, While good men listen with delight.    On Sarjú's   bank, of ample size, The happy realm of Kos'al lies,

With fertile length of fair champaign And flocks and herds and wealth of grain. There, famous in her old renown, Ayodhyá stands, the royal town, In bygone ages built and planned By sainted Manu's princely hand. Imperial seat! her walls extend Twelve measured leagues from end to end, And three in width from side to side, With square and palace beautified. Her gates at even distance stand; Her ample roads are wisely planned. Right glorious is her royal street Where streams allay the dust and heat. On level ground in even row Her houses rise in goodly show: Terrace and palace, arch and gate The queenly city decorate. High are her ramparts, strong and vast, By ways at even distance passed, With circling moat, both deep and wide, And store of weapons fortified.

King Das'aratha, lofty-souled, That city guarded and controlled, With towering Sál trees belted round, And many a grove and pleasure ground, As royal Indra, throned on high, Rules his fair city in the sky.  She seems a painted city, fair With chess-board line and even square. And cool boughs shade the lovely lake

Where weary men their thirst may slake. There gilded chariots gleam and shine, And stately piles the Gods enshrine. There gay sleek people ever throng To festival and dance and song. A mine is she of gems and sheen, The darling home of Fortune's Queen. With noblest sort of drink and meat, The fairest rice and golden wheat, And fragrant with the chaplet's scent With holy oil and incense blent. With many an elephant and steed, And wains for draught and cars for speed. With envoys sent by distant kings, And merchants with their precious things, With banners o'er her roofs that play, And weapons that a hundred slay;  All warlike engines framed by man, And every class of artisan. A city rich beyond compare With bards and minstrels gathered there, And men and damsels who entrance The soul with play and song and dance. In every street is heard the lute, The drum, the tabret, and the flute, The Veda chanted soft and low, The ringing of the archer's bow; With bands of godlike heroes skilled In every warlike weapon, filled, And kept by warriors from the foe, As Nágas guard their home below.  There wisest Bráhmans evermore    The flame of worship feed, And versed in all the Vedas' lore,    Their lives of virtue lead. Truthful and pure, they freely give;    They keep each sense controlled, And in their holy fervour live    Like the great saints of old.

  6 King  

There reigned a king of name revered, To country and to town endeared, Great Das'aratha, good and sage. Well read in Scripture's holy page:

Upon his kingdom's weal intent, Mighty and brave and provident; The pride of old Ikshváku's seed For lofty thought and righteous deed. Peer of the saints, for virtues famed, For foes subdued and passions tamed: A rival in his wealth untold Of Indra and the Lord of Gold. Like Manu first of kings, he reigned. And worthily his state maintained, For firm and just and ever true Love, duty, gain he kept in view, And ruled his city rich and free, Like Indra's Amarávatí. And worthy of so fair a place There dwelt a just and happy race    With troops of children blest. Each man contented sought no more, Nor longed with envy for the store    By richer friends possessed. For poverty was there unknown, And each man counted as his own    Kine, steeds, and gold, and grain. All dressed in raiment bright and clean, And every townsman might be seen With earrings, wreath, or chain. None deigned to feed on broken fare, And none was false or stingy there. A piece of gold, the smallest pay, Was earned by labour for a day. On every arm were bracelets worn, And none was faithless or forsworn,    A braggart or unkind. None lived upon another's wealth, None pined with dread or broken health,    Or dark disease of mind. High-souled were all. The slanderous word, The boastful lie, were never heard. Each man was constant to his vows, And lived devoted to his spouse. No other love his fancy knew, And she was tender, kind, and true. Her dames were fair of form and face, With charm of wit and gentle grace, With modest raiment simply neat, And winning manners soft and sweet. The twice-born sages, whose delight Was Scripture's page and holy rite, Their calm and settled course pursued, Nor sought the menial multitude. In many a Scripture each was versed, And each the flame of worship nursed,    And gave with lavish hand. Each paid to Heaven the offerings due, And none was godless or untrue    In all that holy band. To Bráhmans, as the laws ordain, The Warrior caste were ever fain    The reverence due to pay; And these the Vais'yas' peaceful crowd, Who trade and toil for gain, were proud

   To honour and obey; And all were by the S'údras served, Who never from their duty swerved, Their proper worship all addressed To Bráhman, spirits, God, and guest. Pure and unmixt their rites remained, Their race's honour ne'er was stained. Cheered by his grandsons, sons, and wife, Each passed a long and happy life. Thus was that famous city held By one who all his race excelled,    Blest in his gentle reign, As the whole land aforetime swayed By Manu, prince of men, obeyed    Her king from main to main. And heroes kept her, strong and brave, As lions guard their mountain cave: Fierce as devouring flame they burned, And fought till death, but never turned. Horses had she of noblest breed, Like Indra's for their form and speed, From Váhlí's hills and Sindhu's sand, Vanáyu and Kámboja's land.

Her noble elephants had strayed Through Vindhyan and Himálayan shade, Gigantic in their bulk and height, Yet gentle in their matchless might. They rivalled well the world-spread fame Of the great stock from which they came,    Of Váman, vast of size, Of Mahápadma's glorious line, Thine, Aujan, and, Airávat, thine.     Upholders of the skies. With those, enrolled in fourfold class, Who all their mighty kin surpass, Whom men Matangas name, And Mrigas spotted black and white, And Bhadras of unwearied might, And Mandras hard to tame.   Thus, worthy of the name she bore, Ayodhyá for a league or more    Cast a bright glory round, Where Das'aratha wise and great Governed his fair ancestral state,    With every virtue crowned. Like Indra in the skies he reigned In that, good town whose wall contained    High domes and turrets proud, With gates and arcs of triumph decked, And sturdy barriers to protect    Her gay and countless crowd.

  7 Ministers  

Two sages, holy saints, had he, His ministers and priests to be: Vasishtha, faithful to advise. And Vámadeva, Scripture-wise.

Eight other lords around him stood, All skilled to counsel, wise and good; Jayanta, Vijay, Dhrishti bold In fight, affairs of war controlled: Siddhárth and Arthasádhak true Watched o'er expense and revenue, And Dharmapál and wise Aœok Of right and law and justice spoke. With these the sage Sumantra, skilled To urge the car, high station filled.    All these in knowledge duly trained Each passion and each sense restrained: With modest manners, nobly bred Each plan and nod and look they read, Upon their neighbours' good intent, Most active and benevolent: As sit the Vasus  round their king. They sate around him counselling. They ne'er in virtue's loftier pride Another's lowly gifts decried. In fair and seemly garb arrayed, No weak uncertain plans they made. Well skilled in business, fair and just, They gained the people's love and trust, And thus without oppression stored The swelling treasury of their lord, Bound in sweet friendship each to each, They spoke kind thoughts in gentle speech. They looked alike with equal eye On every caste, on low and high. Devoted to their king, they sought, Ere his tongue spoke, to learn his thought. And knew, as each occasion rose, To bide their counsel or disclose. In foreign land--or in their own Whatever passed, to them was known. By secret spies they timely knew What men were doing or would do. Skilled in the grounds of war and peace They saw the monarch's state increase, Watching his weal with conquering eye That never let occasion by, While nature lent her aid to bless Their labours with unbought success. Never for anger, lust, or gain, Would they their lips with falsehood stain. Inclined to mercy they could scan The weakness and the strength of man. They fairly judged both high and low, And ne'er would wrong a guiltless foe; Yet if a fault were proved, each one Would punish e'en his own dear son. But there and in the kingdom's bound No thief or man impure was found: None of loose life or evil fame, No temper of another's dame. Contented with their lot each caste

Calm days in blissful quiet passed; And, all in fitting tasks employed, Country and town deep rest enjoyed, With these wise lords around his throne    The monarch justly reigned, And making every heart his own    The love of all men gained. With trusty agents, as beseems,    Each distant realm he scanned, As the sun visits with his beams    Each corner of the land. Ne'er would he on a mightier foe    With hostile troops advance, Nor at an equal strike a blow    In war's delusive chance. These lords in council bore their part With ready brain and faithful heart, With skill and knowledge, sense and tact, Good to advise and bold to act. And high and endless fame he won    With these to guide his schemes, As, risen in his might, the sun    Wins glory with his beams.

  8 Sumantra's Speech  

But splendid, just, and great of mind, The childless king for offspring pined. No son had he his name to grace, Transmitter of his royal race. Long had his anxious bosom wrought, And as he pondered rose the thought: 'A votive steed 'twere good to slay, So might a son the gift repay.' Before his lords his plan he laid, And bade them with their wisdom aid: Then with these words Sumantra, best Of royal counsellors, addressed: 'Hither, Vas'ishtha at their head, Let all my priestly guides be led.' To him Sumantra made reply: 'Hear, Sire, a tale of days gone by. To many a sage in time of old, Sanatkumár, the saint, foretold How from thine ancient line, O King, A son, when years came round, should spring. 'Here dwells,' 'twas thus the seer began, 'Of Kas'yap's race, a holy man, Vibhándak named: to him shall spring A son, the famous Rishyas'ring. Bred with the deer that round him roam, The wood shall be that hermit's home.

To him no mortal shall be known Except his holy sire alone. Still by those laws shall he abide Which lives of youthful Bráhmans guide, Obedient to the strictest rule That forms the young ascetic's school: And all the wondering world shall hear Of his stern life and penance drear; His care to nurse the holy fire And do the bidding of his sire. Then, seated on the Angas' throne, Shall Lomapád to fame be known. But folly wrought by that great king A plague upon the land shall bring; No rain for many a year shall fall And grievous drought shall ruin all. The troubled king with many a prayer Shall bid the priests some cure declare: 'The lore of Heaven 'tis yours to know, Nor are ye blind to things below: Declare, O holy men, the way This plague to expiate and stay.' Those best of Bráhmans shall reply: 'By every art, O Monarch, try Hither to bring Vibhándak's child, Persuaded, captured, or beguiled. And when the boy is hither led To him thy daughter duly wed.'

But how to bring that wondrous boy His troubled thoughts will long employ, And hopeless to achieve the task He counsel of his lords will ask, And bid his priests and servants bring With honour saintly Rishyas'ring. But when they hear the monarch's speech, All these their master will beseech, With trembling hearts and looks of woe, To spare them, for they fear to go. And many a plan will they declare    And crafty plots will frame, And promise fair to show him there,    Unforced, with none to blame. On every word his lords shall say,    The king will meditate, And on the third returning day    Recall them to debate. Then this shall be the plan agreed,    That damsels shall be sent Attired in holy hermits' weed,    And skilled in blandishment, That they the hermit may beguile With every art and amorous wile

   Whose use they know so well, And by their witcheries seduce The unsuspecting young recluse    To leave his father's cell. Then when the boy with willing feet Shall wander from his calm retreat    And in that city stand, The troubles of the king shall end, And streams of blessed rain descend    Upon the thirsty land. Thus shall the holy Rishyas'ring To Lomapád, the mighty king,    By wedlock be allied; For S'ántá, fairest of the fair, In mind and grace beyond compare,    Shall be his royal bride. He, at the Offering of the Steed, The flames with holy oil shall feed, And for King Das'aratha gain Sons whom his prayers have begged in vain.' 'I have repeated, Sire, thus far, The words of old Sanatkumár, In order as he spoke them then Amid the crowd of holy men.' Then Das'aratha cried with joy, 'Say how they brought the hermit boy.'

  9 Rishyas'ring  

The wise Sumantra, thus addressed, Unfolded at the king's behest The plan the lords in council laid To draw the hermit from the shade: 'The priest, amid the lordly crowd, To Lomapád thus spoke aloud: 'Hear, King, the plot our thoughts have framed, A harmless trick by all unblamed. Far from the world that hermit's child Lives lonely in the distant wild: A stranger to the joys of sense, His bliss is pain and abstinence; And all unknown are women yet To him, a holy anchoret. The gentle passions we will wake That with resistless influence shake    The hearts of men; and he Drawn by enchantment strong and sweet Shall follow from his lone retreat,    And come and visit thee. Let ships be formed with utmost care That artificial trees may bear,    And sweet fruit deftly made; Let goodly raiment, rich and rare, And flowers, and many a bird be there    Beneath the leafy shade. Upon the ships thus decked a band Of young and lovely girls shall stand, Rich in each charm that wakes desire, And eyes that burn with amorous fire; Well skilled to sing, and play, and dance And ply their trade with smile and glance Let these, attired in hermits' dress, Betake them to the wilderness, And bring the boy of life austere A voluntary captive here.'

He ended; and the king agreed,    By the priest's counsel won. And all the ministers took heed    To see his bidding done. In ships with wondrous art prepared Away the lovely women fared, And soon beneath the shade they stood Of the wild, lonely, dreary wood. And there the leafy cot they found    Where dwelt the devotee, And looked with eager eyes around    The hermit's son to see. Still, of Vibhándak sore afraid, They hid behind the creepers' shade. But when by careful watch they knew The elder saint was far from view, With bolder steps they ventured nigh To catch the youthful hermit's eye. Then all the damsels, blithe and gay, At various games began to play. They tossed the flying ball about With dance and song and merry shout, And moved, their scented tresses bound With wreaths, in mazy motion round. Some girls as if by love possessed, Sank to the earth in feigned unrest, Up starting quickly to pursue Their intermitted game anew. It was a lovely sight to see    Those fair ones, as they played, While fragrant robes were floating free, And bracelets clashing in their glee    A pleasant tinkling made. The anklet's chime, the Koïl's cry    With music filled the place As 'twere some city in the sky    Which heavenly minstrels grace. With each voluptuous art they strove To win the tenant of the grove, And with their graceful forms inspire His modest soul with soft desire. With arch of brow, with beck and smile, With every passion-waking wile

   Of glance and lotus hand, With all enticements that excite The longing for unknown delight    Which boys in vain withstand. Forth came the hermit's son to view The wondrous sight to him so new,    And gazed in rapt surprise, For from his natal hour till then On woman or the sons of men    He ne'er had cast his eyes. He saw them with their waists so slim, With fairest shape and faultless limb, In variegated robes arrayed, And sweetly singing as they played. Near and more near the hermit drew,    And watched them at their game, And stronger still the impulse grew    To question whence they came. They marked the young ascetic gaze With curious eye and wild amaze, And sweet the long-eyed damsels sang, And shrill their merry laughter rang, Then came they nearer to his side, And languishing with passion cried: 'Whose son, O youth, and who art thou, Come suddenly to join us now? And why dost thou all lonely dwell In the wild wood? We pray thee, tell, We wish to know thee, gentle youth; Come, tell us, if thou wilt, the truth.'

He gazed upon that sight he ne'er Had seen before, of girls so fair, And out of love a longing rose His sire and lineage to disclose: 'My father,' thus he made reply, 'Is Kas'yap's son, a saint most high, Vibhándak styled; from him I came, And Rishyaœring he calls my name, Our hermit cot is near this place: Come thither, O ye fair of face; There be it mine, with honour due, Ye gentle youths, to welcome you.'

They heard his speech, and gave consent, And gladly to his cottage went. Vibhándak's son received them well Beneath the shelter of his cell With guest-gift, water for their feet, And woodland fruit and roots to eat, They smiled, and spoke sweet words like these, Delighted with his courtesies: 'We too have goodly fruit in store, Grown on the trees that shade our door; Come, if thou wilt, kind Hermit, haste The produce of our grove to taste; And let, O good Ascetic, first This holy water quench thy thirst.' They spoke, and gave him comfits sweet Prepared ripe fruits to counterfeit; And many a dainty cake beside And luscious mead their stores supplied. The seeming fruits, in taste and look, The unsuspecting hermit took, For, strange to him, their form beguiled The dweller in the lonely wild. Then round his neck fair arms were flung, And there the laughing damsels clung, And pressing nearer and more near With sweet lips whispered at his ear; While rounded limb and swelling breast The youthful hermit softly pressed. The pleasing charm of that strange bowl,    The touch of a tender limb, Over his yielding spirit stole    And sweetly vanquished him. But vows, they said, must now be paid;    They bade the boy farewell, And, of the aged saint afraid,    Prepared to leave the dell. With ready guile they told him where    Their hermit dwelling lay: Then, lest the sire should find them there,    Sped by wild paths away. They fled and left him there alone    By longing love possessed; And with a heart no more his own    He roamed about distressed. The aged saint came home, to find    The hermit boy distraught, Revolving in his troubled mind    One solitary thought. 'Why dost thou not, my son,' he cried,    'Thy due obeisance pay? Why do I see thee in the tide    Of whelming thought to-day? A devotee should never wear    A mien so sad and strange. Come, quickly, dearest child, declare    The reason of the change.' And Rishyas'ring, when questioned thus,    Made answer in this wise: 'O sire, there came to visit us    Some men with lovely eyes. About my neck soft arms they wound    And kept me tightly held To tender breasts so soft and round,    That strangely heaved and swelled. They sing more sweetly as they dance    Than e'er I heard till now, And play with many a sidelong glance    And arching of the brow.' 'My son,' said he, 'thus giants roam    Where holy hermits are, And wander round their peaceful home    Their rites austere to mar. I charge thee, thou must never lay    Thy trust in them, dear boy: They seek thee only to betray,    And woo but to destroy.' Thus having warned him of his foes    That night at home he spent. And when the morrow's sun arose

   Forth to the forest went.

But Rishyas'ring with eager pace Sped forth and hurried to the place Where he those visitants had seen Of daintly waist and charming mien. When from afar they saw the son Of Saint Vibhándak toward them run, To meet the hermit boy they hied, And hailed him with a smile, and cried: 'O come, we pray, dear lord, behold Our lovely home of which we told Due honour there to thee we'll pay, And speed thee on thy homeward way.' Pleased with the gracious words they said He followed where the damsels led. As with his guides his steps he bent,    That Bráhman high of worth, A flood of rain from heaven was sent    That gladdened all the earth.

Vibhándak took his homeward road, And wearied by the heavy load Of roots and woodland fruit he bore Entered at last his cottage door. Fain for his son he looked around, But desolate the cell he found. He stayed not then to bathe his feet, Though fainting with the toil and heat, But hurried forth and roamed about Calling the boy with cry and shout, He searched the wood, but all in vain; Nor tidings of his son could gain.

One day beyond the forest's bound The wandering saint a village found, And asked the swains and neatherds there Who owned the land so rich and fair, With all the hamlets of the plain, And herds of kine and fields of grain. They listened to the hermit's words, And all the guardians of the herds, With suppliant hands together pressed, This answer to the saint addressed: The Angas' lord who bears the name Of Lomapád, renowned by fame, Bestowed these hamlets with their kine And all their riches, as a sign Of grace, on Rishyas'ring: and he Vibhándak's son is said to be.' The hermit with exulting breast The mighty will of fate confessed, By meditation's eye discerned; And cheerful to his home returned.

A stately ship, at early morn, The hermit's son away had borne. Loud roared the clouds, as on he sped, The sky grew blacker overhead; Till, as he reached the royal town, A mighty flood of rain came down. By the great rain the monarch's mind The coming of his guest divined. To meet the honoured youth he went, And low to earth his head he bent. With his own priest to lead the train, He gave the gift high guests obtain. And sought, with all who dwelt within The city walls, his grace to win. He fed him with the daintiest fare, He served him with unceasing care, And ministered with anxious eyes Lest anger in his breast should rise; And gave to be the Bráhman's bride His own fair daughter, lotus-eyed.

Thus loved and honoured by the king, The glorious Bráhman Rishyas'ring Passed in that royal town his life With S'ántá his beloved wife.'

  10 Rishyas'ring Invited  

'Again, O best of kings, give ear: My saving words attentive hear, And listen to the tale of old By that illustrious Bráhman told, 'Of famed Ikshváku's line shall spring ('Twas thus he spoke) a pious king, Named Das'aratha, good and great, True to his word and fortunate. He with the Angas' mighty lord Shall ever live in sweet accord, And his a daughter fair shall be, S'ántá of happy destiny. But Lomapád, the Angas' chief, Still pining in his childless grief, To Das'aratha thus shall say: 'Give me thy daughter, friend, I pray, Thy S'ántá of the tranquil mind, The noblest one of womankind.'

The father, swift to feel for woe, Shall on his friend his child bestow; And he shall take her and depart To his own town with joyous heart. The maiden home in triumph led, To Rishyas'ring the king shall wed. And he with loving joy and pride Shall take her for his honoured bride. And Das'aratha to a rite That best of Bráhmans shall invite With supplicating prayer, To celebrate the sacrifice To win him sons and Paradise, That he will fain prepare.

From him the lord of men at length    The boon he seeks shall gain, And see four sons of boundless strength    His royal line maintain.' 'Thus did the godlike saint of old    The will of fate declare, And all that should befall unfold    Amid the sages there. O Prince supreme of men, go thou,    Consult thy holy guide, And win, to aid thee in thy vow,    This Bráhman to thy side.' Sumantra's counsel, wise and good,    King Das'aratha heard, Then by Vas'ishtha's side he stood    And thus with him conferred: 'Sumantra counsels thus: do thou My priestly guide, the plan allow.'    Vas'ishtha gave his glad consent, And forth the happy monarch went With lords and servants on the road That led to Rishyas'ring's abode. Forests and rivers duly past, He reached the distant town at last Of Lomapád the Angas' king, And entered it with welcoming. On through the crowded streets he came, And, radiant as the kindled flame, He saw within the monarch's house The hermit's son most glorious. There Lomapád, with joyful breast,    To him all honour paid, For friendship for his royal guest    His faithful bosom swayed. Thus entertained with utmost care Seven days, or eight, he tarried there, And then that best men thus broke His purpose to the king, and spoke: 'O King of men, mine ancient friend,    (Thus Das'aratha prayed) Thy S'antá with her husband send    My sacrifice to aid. Said he who ruled the Angas, Yea,    And his consent was won: And then at once he turned away    To warn the hermit's son. He told him of their ties beyond Their old affection's faithful bond: 'This king,' he said, 'from days of old A well beloved friend I hold. To me this pearl of dames he gave From childless woe mine age to save, The daughter whom he loved so much, Moved by compassion's gentle touch. In him thy S'antá's father see: As I am even so is he. For sons the childless monarch yearns: To thee alone for help he turns. Go thou, the sacred rite ordain To win the sons he prays to gain: Go, with thy wife thy succour lend, And give his vows a blissful end.'    The hermit's son with quick accord Obeyed the Angas' mighty lord, And with fair S'antá at his side To Das'aratha's city hied. Each king, with suppliant hands upheld,    Gazed on the other's face: And then by mutual love impelled    Met in a close embrace. Then Das'aratha's thoughtful care,    Before he parted thence, Bade trusty servants homeward bear    The glad intelligence: 'Let all the town be bright and gay    With burning incense sweet; Let banners wave, and water lay    The dust in every street,' Glad were the citizens to learn The tidings of their lord's return, And through the city every man Obedienly his task began. And fair and bright Ayodhyá showed, As following his guest he rode Through the full streets where shell and drum Proclaimed aloud the king was come. And all the people with delight    Kept gazing on their king, Attended by that youth so bright,    The glorious Rishyas'ring. When to his home the king had brought    The hermit's saintly son, He deemed that all his task was wrought,    And all he prayed for won. And lords who saw that stranger dame    So beautiful to view, Rejoiced within their hearts, and came    And paid her honour too. There Rishyasring passed blissful days, Graced like the king with love and praise And shone in glorious light with her, Sweet S'ántá, for his minister, As Brahmá's son Vas'ishtha, he Who wedded Saint Arundhati.

  11 Sacrifice Decreed  

The Dewy Season came and went;    The spring returned again: Then would the king, with mind intent,    His sacrifice ordain.

He came to Rishyas'ring, and bowed    To him of look divine, And bade him aid his offering vowed    For heirs, to save his line. Nor would the youth his aid deny:    He spake the monarch fair, And prayed him for that rite so high    All requisites prepare. The king to wise Sumantra cried    Who stood aye ready near; 'Go summon quick each holy guide,    To counsel and to hear.' Obedient to his lord's behest    Away Sumantra sped, And brought Vas'ishtha and the rest, In Scripture deeply read. Suyajna, Vámadeva came,    Jávali, Kas'yap's son, And old Vas'ishtha, dear to fame,    Obedient every one. King Das'aratha met them there    And duly honoured each, And spoke in pleasant words his fair    And salutary speech: 'In childless longing doomed to pine, No happiness, O lords, is mine. So have I for this cause decreed To slay the sacrificial steed. Fain would I pay that offering high Wherein the horse is doomed to die, With Rishyas'ring his aid to lend, And with your glory to befriend.'

With loud applause each holy man Received his speech, approved the plan, And, by the wise Vas'ishtha led, Gave praises to the king, and said: 'The sons thou cravest shalt thou see, Of fairest glory, born to thee, Whose holy feelings bid thee take This righteous course for offspring's sake.' Cheered by the ready praise of those Whose aid he sought, his spirits rose, And thus the king his speech renewed With looks of joy and gratitude: 'Let what the coming rites require Be ready as the priests desire, And let the horse, ordained to bleed, With fitting guard and priest, be freed, Yonder on Sarjú's northern side The sacrificial ground provide; And let the saving rites, that naught Ill-omened may occur, be wrought. The offering I announce to-day Each lord of earth may claim to pay, Provided that his care can guard

the holy rite by flaws unmarred. For wandering fiends, whose watchful spite Waits eagerly to spoil each rite, Hunting with keenest eye detect The slightest slip, the least neglect; And when the sacred work is crossed The workman is that moment lost. Let preparation due be made:    Your powers the charge can meet: That so the noble rite be paid    In every point complete.' And all the Bráhmans answered, Yea,    His mandate honouring, And gladly promised to obey    The order of the king. They cried with voices raised aloud:    'Success attend thine aim!' Then bade farewell, and lowly bowed,    And hastened whence they came. King Das'aratha went within,    His well loved wives to see: And said: 'Your lustral rites begin,    For these shall prosper me. A glorious offering I prepare That precious fruit of sons may bear.' Their lily faces brightened fast Those pleasant words to hear, As lilies, when the winter's past, In lovelier hues appear.

  12 Sacrifice Begun  

Again the spring with genial heat Returning made the year complete. To win him sons, without delay His vow the king resolved to pay: And to Vas'ishtha, saintly man, In modest words this speech began: 'Prepare the rite with all things fit As is ordained in Holy Writ, And keep with utmost care afar Whate'er its sacred forms might mar. Thou art, my lord, my trustiest guide, Kind-hearted, and my friend beside; So is it meet thou undertake This heavy task for duty's sake.'

Then he, of twice-born men the best, His glad assent at once expressed: 'Fain will I do whate'er may be Desired, O honoured King, by thee.' To ancient priests he spoke, who, trained In holy rites, deep skill had gained: 'Here guards be stationed, good and sage Religious men of trusted age. And various workmen send and call, Who frame the door and build the wall: With men of every art and trade, Who read the stars and ply the spade,

And mimes and minstrels hither bring, And damsels trained to dance and sing.'

Then to the learned men he said, In many a page of Scripture read: 'Be yours each rite performed to see According to the king's decree. And stranger Bráhmans quickly call To this great rite that welcomes all. Pavilions for the princes, decked With art and ornament, erect, And handsome booths by thousands made The Bráhman visitors to shade, Arranged in order side by side, With meat and drink and all supplied. And ample stables we shall need For many an elephant and steed: And chambers where the men may lie, And vast apartments, broad and high, Fit to receive the countless bands Of warriors come from distant lands. For our own people too provide Sufficient tents, extended wide, And stores of meat and drink prepare, And all that can be needed there. And food in plenty must be found For guests from all the country round. Of various viands presents make, For honour, not for pity's sake, That fit regard and worship be Paid to each caste in due degree. And let not wish or wrath excite Your hearts the meanest guest to slight; But still observe with special grace Those who obtain the foremost place, Whether for happier skill in art Or bearing in the rite their part. Do you, I pray, with friendly mind Perform the task to you assigned, And work the rite, as bids the law, Without omission, slip, or flaw'

They answered: 'As thou seest fit So will we do and naught omit.' The sage Vas'ishtha then addressed Sumantra called at his behest: 'The princes of the earth invite, And famous lords who guard the rite, Priest, Warrior, Merchant, lowly thrall, In countless thousands summon all. Where'er their home be, far or near, Gather the good with honour here, And Janak, whose imperial sway The men of Míthilá obey. The firm of vow, the dread of foes, Who all the lore of Scripture knows,

Invite him here with honour high, King Das'aratha's old ally. And Kás'i's lord of gentle speech, Who finds a pleasant word for each, In length of days our monarch's peer, Illustrious king, invite him here. The father of our ruler's bride, Known for his virtues far and wide, The king whom Kekaya's realms obey, Him with his son invite, I pray. And Lomapád the Angas' king, True to his vows and godlike, bring. For be thine invitations sent To west and south and orient. Call those who rule Suráshtra's land, Suvíra's realm and Sindhu's strand, And all the kings of earth beside In friendship's bonds with us allied: Invite them all to hasten in With retinue and kith and kin.'

Vas'ishtha's speech without delay Sumantra bent him to obey. And sent his trusty envoys forth Eastward and westward, south and north. Obedient to the saint's request Himself he hurried forth, and pressed Each nobler chief and lord and king To hasten to the gathering. Before the saint Vas'ishtha stood All those who wrought with stone and wood, And showed the work which every one In furtherance of the rite had done, Rejoiced their ready zeal to see, Thus to the craftsmen all said he: 'I charge ye, masters, see to this, That there be nothing done amiss, And this, I pray, in mind be borne, That not one gift ye give in scorn: Whenever scorn a gift attends Great sin is his who thus offends.'

And now some days and nights had past, And kings began to gather fast, And precious gems in liberal store As gifts to Das'aratha bore. Then joy thrilled through Vas'ishtha's breast As thus the monarch he addressed: 'Obedient to thy high decree The kings, my lord, are come to thee.

And it has been my care to greet And honour all with reverence meet. Thy servants' task is ended quite, And all is ready for the rite. Come forth then to the sacred ground Where all in order will be found.' Then Rishyas'ring confirmed the tale: Nor did their words to move him fail. The stars propitious influence lent When forth the world's great ruler went.

Then by the sage Vas'ishtha led    The priest begun to speed Those glorious rites wherein is shed    The lifeblood of the steed.

  13 Sacrifice Finished  

The circling year had filled its course, And back was brought the wandering horse: Then upon Sarjú's northern strand Began the rite the king had planned. With Rishyas'ring the forms to guide, The Bráhmans to their task applied, At that great offering of the steed Their lofty-minded king decreed. The priests, who all the Scripture knew, Performed their part in order due, And circled round in solemn train As precepts of the law ordain. Pravargya rites were duly sped: For Upusads the flames were fed. Then from the plant the juice was squeezed, And those high saints with minds well pleased Performed the mystic rites begun With bathing ere the rise of sun. They gave the portion Indra's claim,

And hymned the King whom none can blame. The mid-day bathing followed next, Observed as bids the holy text. Then the good priests with utmost care, In form that Scripture's rules declare, For the third time pure water shed On high souled Das'aratha's head. Then Rishyas'ring and all the rest To Indra and the Gods addressed Their sweet-toned hymn of praise and prayer, And called them in the rite to share. With sweetest song and hymn intoned They give the Gods in heaven enthroned, As duty bids, the gifts they claim, The holy oil that feeds the flame. And many an offering there was paid, And not one slip in all was made, For with most careful heed they saw That all was done by Veda law. None, all those days, was seen oppressed By hunger or by toil distressed. Why speak of human kind? No beast Was there that lacked an ample feast. For there was store for all who came, For orphan child and lonely dame; The old and young were well supplied, The poor and hungry satisfied. Throughout the day ascetics fed, And those who roam to beg their bread: While all around the cry was still, 'Give forth, give forth,' and ' Eat your fill.' 'Give forth with liberal hand the meal, And various robes in largess deal.' Urged by these cries on every side Unweariedly their task they plied: And heaps of food like hills in size In boundless plenty met the eyes: And lakes of sauce, each day renewed, Refreshed the weary multitude. And strangers there from distant lands, And women folk in crowded bands The best of food and drink obtained At the great rite the king ordained. Apart from all, the Bráhmans there, Thousands on thousands, took their share Of various dainties sweet to taste, On plates of gold and silver placed, All ready set, as, when they willed, The twice-born men their places filled. And servants in fair garments dressed Waited upon each Bráhman guest. Of cheerful mind and mien were they, With gold and jewelled earrings gay. The best of Bráhmans praised the fare Of countless sorts, of flavour rare: And thus to Raghu's son they cried: 'We bless thee, and are satisfied.' Between the rites some Bráhmans spent The time in learned argument,

With ready flow of speech, sedate, And keen to vanquish in debate.

There day by day the holy train Performed all rites as rules ordain. No priest in all that host was found But kept the vows that held him bound: None, but the holy Vedas knew, And all their six-fold science too. No Bráhman there was found unfit To speak with eloquence and wit.

And now the appointed time came near The sacrificial posts to rear. They brought them, and prepared to fix Of Bel  and Khádir six and six; Six, made of the Palás'a tree, Of Fig-wood one, apart to be: Of Sleshmát and of Devadár One column each, the mightiest far: So thick the two, the arms of man Their ample girth would fail to span. All these with utmost care were wrought By hand of priests in Scripture taught, And all with gold were gilded bright To add new splendour to the rite:

Twenty-and-one those stakes in all, Each one-and-twenty cubits tall: And one-and-twenty ribbons there Hung on the pillars, bright and fair. Firm in the earth they stood at last, Where cunning craftsmen fixed them fast; And there unshaken each remained, Octagonal and smoothly planed. Then ribbons over all were hung, And flowers and scent around them flung. Thus decked they cast a glory forth Like the great saints who star the north.   The sacrificial altar then Was raised by skilful twice-born men, In shape and figure to behold An eagle with his wings of gold, With twice nine pits and formed three-fold Each for some special God, beside The pillars were the victims tied; The birds that roam the wood, the air, The water, and the land were there, And snakes and things of reptile birth, And healing herbs that spring from earth; As texts prescribe, in Scripture found, Three hundred victims there were bound. The steed devoted to the host Of Gods, the gem they honour most, Was duly sprinkled. Then the Queen Kaus'alyá, with delighted mien, With reverent steps around him paced. And with sweet wreaths the victim graced; Then with three swords in order due She smote the steed with joy, and slew. That night the queen, a son to gain, With calm and steady heart was fain By the dead charger's side to stay From evening till the break of day. Then came three priests, their care to lead The other queens to touch the steed, Upon Kaus'alyá to attend, Their company and aid to lend. As by the horse she still reclined, With happy mien and cheerful mind, With Rishyas'ring the twice-born came And praised and blessed the royal dame. The priest who well his duty knew, And every sense could well subdue, From out the bony chambers freed And boiled the marrow of the steed. Above the steam the monarch bent, And, as he smelt the fragrant scent, In time and order drove afar All error that his hopes could mar. Then sixteen priests together came And cast into the sacred flame The severed members of the horse, Made ready all in ordered course. On piles of holy Fig-tree raised

The meaner victims' bodies blazed: The steed, of all the creatures slain, Alone required a pile of cane. Three days, as is by law decreed, Lasted that Offering of the Steed. The Chatushtom began the rite, And when the sun renewed his light, The Ukthya followed: after came The Atirátra's holy flame. These were the rites, and many more Arranged by light of holy lore, The Aptoryám of mighty power, And, each performed in proper hour, The Abhijit and Vis'vajit With every form and service fit; And with the sacrifice at night The Jyotishtom and Áyus rite. 

The task was done, as laws prescribe: The monarch, glory of his tribe, Bestowed the land in liberal grants Upon the sacred ministrants. He gave the region of the east, His conquest, to the Hotri priest. The west, the celebrant obtained: The south, the priest presiding gained: The northern region was the share Of him who chanted forth the prayer,   Thus did each priest obtain his meed At the great Slaughter of the Steed, Ordained, the best of all to be, By self-existent deity. Ikshváku's son with joyful mind This noble fee to each assigned, But all the priests with one accord Addressed that unpolluted lord: 'Tis thine alone to keep the whole Of this broad earth in firm control.

No gift of lands from thee we seek: To guard these realms our hands were weak. On sacred lore our days are spent: Let other gifts our wants content.' The chief of old Ikshváku's line Gave them ten hundred thousand kine, A hundred millions of fine gold, The same in silver four times told. But every priest in presence there With one accord resigned his share. To Saint Vas'ishtha, high of soul, And Rishyas'ring they gave the whole. That largess pleased those Brahmans well, Who bade the prince his wishes tell. Then Das'aratha, mighty king. Made answer thus to Rishyas'ring: 'O holy Hermit, of thy grace, Vouchsafe the increase of my race.' He spoke; nor was his prayer denied: The best of Bráhmans thus replied: 'Four sons, O Monarch, shall be thine, Upholders of thy royal line.'

  14 Ravan Doomed  

The saint, well read in holy lore, Pondered awhile his answer o'er. And thus again addressed the king, His wandering thoughts regathering: 'Another rite will I begin Which shall the sons thou cravest win, Where all things shall be duly sped And first Atharva texts be read.'

Then by Vibhándak's gentle son Was that high sacrifice begun, The king's advantage seeking still And zealous to perform his will. Now all the Gods had gathered there, Each one for his allotted share: Brahmá, the ruler of the sky, Sthanu, Náráyan, Lord most high And holy Indra men might view With Maruts for his retinue; The heavenly chorister, and saint, And spirit pure from earthly taint, With one accord had sought the place The high-souled monarch's rite to grace. Then to the Gods who came to take Their proper share the hermit spake: 'For you has Das'aratha slain The votive steed, a son to gain; Stern penance-rites the king has tried, And in firm faith on you relied,

And now with undiminished care A second rite would fain prepare. But, O ye Gods, consent to grant The longing of your supplicant. For him beseeching hands I lift, And pray you all to grant the gift, That four fair sons of high renown The offerings of the king may crown.' They to the hermit's son replied: 'His longing shall be gratified. For, Bráhman, in most high degree We love the king and honour thee.'

These words the Gods in answer said, And vanished thence by Indra led. Thus to the Lord, the worlds who made, The Immortals all assembled prayed: 'O Brahmá, mighty by thy grace, Rávan, who rules the giant race, Torments us in his senseless pride, And penance-loving saints beside. For thou well pleased in days of old Gavest the boon that makes him bold, That God nor demon e'er should kill His charmed life, for so thy will. We, honouring that high behest, Bear all his rage though sore distressed. That lord of giants fierce and fell Scourges the earth and heaven and hell. Mad with thy boon, his impious rage Smites saint and bard and God and sage. The sun himself withholds his glow. The wind in fear forbears to blow; The fire restrains his wonted heat Where stand the dreaded Rávan's feet, And, necklaced with the wandering ware, The sea before him fears to rave. Kuvera's self in sad defeat Is driven from his blissful seat. We see, we feel the giant's might. And woe comes o'er us and affright. Tc thee, O Lord, thy suppliants pray To find some cure this plague to stay.'

Thus by the gathered Gods addressed He pondered in his secret breast, And said: 'One only way I find To slay this fiend of evil mind. He prayed me once his life to guard From demon, God, and heavenly bard, And spirits of the earth and air, And I consenting heard his prayer. But the proud giant in Inn scorn Recked not of man of woman born. None else may take his life away, But only man the fiend may slay.' The Gods, with Indra at their head, Rejoiced to hear the words he said. Then crowned with glory like a flame, Lord Vishnu to the council came; His hands shell, mace, and discus bore, Aud saffron were the robes he wore.

Riding his eagle through the crowd, As the sun rides upon a cloud, With bracelets of fine gold, he came Loud welcomed by the Gods' acclaim. His praise they sang with one consent, And cried, in lowly reverence bent: 'O Lord whose hand fierce Madhu slew, Be thou our refuge, firm and true; Friend of the suffering worlds art thou, We pray thee help thy suppliants now.' Then Vishnu spake: 'Ye Gods, declare, What may I do to grant your prayer?'

'King Das'aratha,' thus cried they, 'Fervent in penance many a day, The sacrificial steed has slain, Longing for sons, but all in vain. Now, at the cry of us forlorn, Incarnate as his seed be born. Three queens has he: each lovely dame Like Beauty, Modesty, or Fame. Divide thyself in four, and be His offspring by these noble three. Man's nature take, and slay in fight Rávan who laughs at heavenly might: This common scourge, this rankling thorn Whom the three worlds too long have borne. For Rávan in the senseless pride Of might unequalled has defied The host of heaven, and plagues with woe Angel and bard and saint below, Crushing each spirit and each maid Who plays in Nandan's heavenly shade. O conquering Lord, to thee we bow; Our surest hope and trust art thou. Regard the world of men below, And slay the Gods' tremendous foe.'

When thus the suppliant Gods had prayed, His wise reply Nárayan made: 'What task demands my presence there, And whence this dread, ye Gods declare.'

The Gods replied: 'We fear, O Lord, Fierce Rávan, ravener abhorred. Be thine the glorious task, we pray, In human form this fiend to slay. By thee of all the Blest alone This sinner may be overthrown. He gained by penance long and dire The favour of the mighty Sire. Then He who every gift bestows

Guarded the fiend from heavenly foes, And gave a pledge his life that kept From all things living, man except. On him thus armed no other foe Than man may deal the deadly blow. Assume, O King, a mortal birth, And strike the demon to the earth.'

Then Vishnu, God of Gods, the Lord Supreme by all the worlds adored, To Brahmá and the suppliants spake: 'Dismiss your fear: for your dear sake In battle will I smite him dead, The cruel fiend, the Immortal's dread, And lords and ministers and all His kith and kin with him shall fall. Then, in the world of mortal men, Ten thousand years and hundreds ten I as a human king will reign, And guard the earth as my domain.'

God, saint, aud nymph, and ministrel throng With heavenly voices raised their song In hymns of triumph to the God Whose conquering feet on Madhu trod:    'Champion of Gods, as man appear,      This cruel Rávan slay,    The thorn that saints and hermits fear,      The plague that none can stay.    In savage fury uncontrolled      His pride for ever grows:    He dares the Lord of Gods to hold      Among his deadly foes.'

  15 Nectar  

When wisest Vishnu thus had given His promise to the Gods of heaven, He pondered in his secret mind A suited place of birth to find, Then he decreed, the lotus-eyed, In four his being to divide, And Das'aratha, gracious king. He chose as sire from whom to spring. That childless prince of high renown, Who smote in war his foemen down, At that same time with utmost care Prepared the rite that wins an heir.  Then Vishnu, fain on earth to dwell, Bade the Almighty Sire farewell, And vanished while a reverent crowd Of Gods and saints in worship bowed.

The monarch watched the sacred rite, When a vast form of awful might, Of matchless splendour, strength, and size Was manifest before his eyes.

From forth the sacrificial flame, Dark, robed in red, the being came. His voice was drumlike, loud and low, His face suffused with rosy glow. Like a huge lion's mane appeared The long locks of his hair and beard. He shone with many a lucky sign, And many an ornament divine; A towering mountain in his height, A tiger in his gait and might. No precious mine more rich could be, No burning flame more bright than he. His arms embraced in loving hold, Like a dear wife, a vase of gold Whose silver lining held a draught Of nectar as in heaven is quaffed: A vase so vast, so bright to view, They scarce could count the vision true. Upon the king his eyes he bent, And said: 'The Lord of life has sent His servant down, O Prince, to be A messenger from heaven to thee.' The king with all his nobles by Raised reverent hands and made reply: 'Welcome, O glorious being! Say How can my care thy grace repay.' Envoy of Him whom all adore Thus to the king he spake once more: 'The Gods accept thy worship: they Give thee the blessed fruit to-day. Approach and take, O glorious King, This heavenly nectar which I bring, For it shall give thee sons and wealth, And bless thee with a store of health. Give it to those fair queens of thine, And bid them quaff the drink divine: And they the princely suns shall bear Long sought by sacrifice and prayer.'

' Yea. O my lord,' the monarch said, And took the vase upon his head, The gift of Gods, of fine gold wrought, With store of heavenly liquor fraught. He honoured, filled with transport new, That wondrous being, fair to view, As round the envoy of the God With reverential steps he trod. 

His errand done, that form of light Arose and vanished from the sight. High rapture filled the monarch's soul, Possessed of that celestial bowl, As when a man by want distressed With unexpected wealth is blest. And rays of transport seemed to fall Illuminating bower and hall, As when the autumn moon rides high, And floods with lovely light the sky. Quick to the ladies' bower he sped, And thus to Queen Kaus'alyá said: 'This genial nectar take and quaff,' He spoke, and gave the lady half. Part of the nectar that remained Sumitrá from his hand obtained. He gave, to make her fruitful too, Kaikeyí half the residue. A portion yet remaining there,    He paused awhile to think. Then gave Sumitrá, with her share.    The remnant of the drink. Thus on each queen of those fair three    A part the king bestowed, And with sweet hope a child to see    Their yearning bosoms glowed. The heavenly bowl the king supplied    Their longing souls relieved, And soon, with rapture and with pride,    Each royal dame conceived. He gazed upon each lady's face,    And triumphed as he gazed, As Indra in his royal place    By Gods and spirits praised.

  16 Vanars  

When Vishnu thus had gone on earth. From the great king to take his birth. The self-existent Lord of all Addressed the Gods who heard his call: 'For Vishnu's sake, the strong and true. Who seeks the good of all of you, Make helps, in war to lend him aid, In forms that change at will, arrayed, Of wizard skill and hero might, Outstrippers of the wind in flight, Skilled in the arts of counsel, wise, And Vishnu's peers in bold emprise; With heavenly arts and prudence fraught, By no devices to be caught; Skilled in all weapon's lore and use As they who drink the immortal juice. 

And let the nymphs supreme in grace, And maidens of the minstrel race, Monkeys and snakes,and those who rove Free spirits of the hill and grove, And wandering Daughters of the Air, In monkey form brave children bear. So erst the lord of bears I shaped, Born from my mouth as wide I gaped.'

Thus by the mighty Sire addressed They all obeyed his high behest, And thus begot in countless swarms Brave sons disguised in sylvan forms. Each God, each sage became a sire, Each minstrel of the heavenly quire, Each faun, of children strong and good Whose feet should roam the hill and wood. Snakes, bards, and spirits, serpents bold Had sons too numerous to be told. Báli, the woodland hosts who led, High as Mahendra's lofty head, Was Indra's child. That noblest fire, The Sun, was great Sugríva's sire, Tára, the mighty monkey, he Was offspring of Vrihaspati: Tára the matchless chieftain, boast For wisdom of the Vánar host. Of Gandhamádan brave and bold The father was the Lord of Gold. Nala the mighty, dear to fame, Of skilful Vis'vakarmá came. From Agni, Nila bright as flame, Who in his splendour, might, and worth, Surpassed the sire who gave him birth.

The heavenly As'vlns, swift and fair, Were fathers of a noble pair, Who, Dwivida and Mainda named, For beauty like their sires were famed, Varun was father of Sushen, Of Sarabh, he who sends the rain, Hanúmán, best of monkey kind, Was son of him who breathes the wind: Like thunderbolt in frame was he, And swift as Garud's  self could flee. These thousands did the Gods create Endowed with might that none could mate, In monkey forms that changed at will; So strong their wish the fiend to kill. In mountain size, like lions thewed, Up sprang the wondrous multitude, Auxiliar hosts in every shape, Monkey and bear and highland ape. In each the strength, the might, the mien Of his own parent God were seen. Some chiefs of Vánar mothers came, Some of she-bear and minstrel dame, Skilled in all arms in battle's shock; The brandished tree, the loosened rock; And prompt, should other weapons fail, To fight and slay with tooth and nail. Their strength could shake the hills amain, And rend the rooted trees in twain, Disturb with their impetuous sweep The Rivers' Lord, the Ocean deep, Rend with their feet the seated ground, And pass wide floods with airy bound, Or forcing through the sky their way The very clouds by force could stay. Mad elephants that wander through The forest wilds, could they subdue, And with their furious shout could scare Dead upon earth the birds of air. So were the sylvan chieftains formed; Thousands on thousands still they swarmed. These were the leaders honoured most, The captains of the Vánar host, And to each lord and chief and guide Was monkey offspring born beside. Then by the bears' great monarch stood The other roamers of the wood,

And turned, their pathless homes to seek, To forest and to mountain peak. The leaders of the monkey band By the two brothers took their stand, Sugríva, offspring of the Sun. And Báli, Indra's mighty one. They both endowed with Garud's might, And skilled in all the arts of fight, Wandered in arms the forest through, And lions, snakes, and tigers, slew. But every monkey, ape, and bear Ever was Báli's special care; With his vast strength and mighty arm He kept them from all scathe and harm. And so the earth with hill, wood, seas, Was filled with mighty ones like these, Of various shape and race and kind, With proper homes to each assigned, With Ráma's champions fierce and strong    The earth was overspread, High as the hills and clouds, a throng    With bodies vast and dread.

  17 Rishyas'ring's Return  

Now when the high-souled monarch's rite, The As'vamedh, was finished quite, Their sacrificial dues obtained, The Gods their heavenly homes regained. The lofty-minded saints withdrew, Each to his place, with honour due, And kings and chieftains, one and all, Who came to grace the festival. And Das'aratha, ere they went, Addressed them thus benevolent: 'Now may you, each with joyful heart, To your own realms, O Kings, depart. Peace and good luck attend you there, And blessing, is my friendly prayer; Let cares of state each mind engage To guard his royal heritage. A monarch from his throne expelled No better than the dead is held.

So he who cares for power and might Must guard his realm and royal right. Such care a meed in heaven will bring Better than rites and offering. Such care a king his country owes As man upon himself bestows, When for his body he provides Raiment and every need besides. For future days should kings foresee, And keep the present error-free.

Thus did the king the kings exhort: They heard, and turned them from the court And, each to each in friendship bound, Went forth to all the realms around. The rites were o'er, the guests were sped: The train the best of Bráhmans led, In which the king with joyful soul, With his dear wives, and with the whole Of his imperial host and train Of cars and servants turned again, And, as a monarch dear to fame, Within his royal city came.

Next, Rishyas'ring, well-honoured sage, And S'ántá, sought their hermitage. The king himself, of prudent mind, Attended him, with troops behind. And all her men the town outpoured With Saint Vas'ishtha and their lord. High mounted on a car of state, O'ercanopied fair S'ántá sate, Drawn by white oxen, while a band Of servants marched on either hand. Great gifts of countless price she bore, With sheep and goats and gems in shore. Like Beauty's self the lady shone With all the jewels she had on, As, happy in her sweet content. Peerless amid the fair she went. Not Queen Paulomí's self could be More loving to her lord than she. She who had lived in happy ease, Honoured with all her heart could please, While dames and kinsfolk ever vied To see her wishes gratified, Soon as she knew her husband's will Again to seek the forest, still Was ready for the hermit's cot, Nor murmured at her altered lot. The king attended to the wild That hermit and his own dear child, And in the centre of a throng Of noble courtiers rode along. The sage's son had let prepare A lodge within the wood, and there While they lingered blithe and gay. Then, duly honoured, went their way. The glorious hermit Rishyas'ring Drew near and thus besought the king:

'Return, my honoured lord, I pray, Return, upon thy homeward way.' The monarch, with the waiting crowd, Lifted his voice and wept aloud, And with eyes dripping still to each Of his good queens he spake this speech:

'Kaus'alyá and Sumitrá dear, And thou, my sweet Kaikeyí, hear. All upon S'ántá feast your gaze, The last time for a length of days.' To S'ántá's arms the ladies leapt, And hung about her neck and wept, And cried, '0, happy be the life Of this great Bráhman and his wife. The Wind, the Fire, the Moon on high. The Earth, the Streams, the circling sky, Preserve thee in the wood, true spouse, Devoted to thy husband's vows. And O dear S'ántá, ne'er neglect To pay the dues of meek respect To the great saint, thy husband's sire, With all observance and with fire. And, sweet one, pure of spot and blame, Forget not thou thy husband's claim; In every change, in good and ill, Let thy sweet words delight him still, And let thy worship constant be: Her lord is woman's deity. To learn thy welfare, dearest friend, The king will many a Bráhman send. Let happy thoughts thy spirit cheer. And be not troubled, daughter dear.'

These soothing words the ladies said. And pressed their lips upon her head. Each gave with sighs her last adieu, Then at the king's command withdrew. The king around the hermit went With circling footsteps reverent, And placed at Rishyas'ring's command Some soldiers of his royal band. The Bráhman bowed in turn and cried, 'May fortune never leave thy side. O mighty King, with justice reign, And still thy people's love retain.' He spoke, and turned away his face,    And, as the hermit went, The monarch, rooted to the place,    Pursued with eyes intent. But when the sage had past from view King Das'aratha turned him too, Still fixing on his friend each thought. With such deep love his breast was fraught. Amid his people's loud acclaim Home to his royal seat he came,    And lived delighted there, Expecting when each queenly dame, Upholder of his ancient fame,    Her promised son should bear. The glorious sage his way pursued Till close before his eyes he viewed Sweet Champá, Lomapád's fair town, Wreathed with her Champacs' leafy crown. Soon as the saint's approach he knew, The king, to yield him honour due, Went forth to meet him with a band Of priests and nobles of the land: 'Hail, Sage,' he cried, 'O joy to me! What bliss it is, my lord, to see Thee with thy wife and all thy train Returning to my town again. Thy father, honoured Sage, is well, Who hither from his woodland cell Has sent full many a messenger For tidings both of thee and her.' Then joyfully, for due respect, The monarch bade the town be decked. The king and Rishyas'ring elate Entered the royal city's gate:    In front the chaplain rode. Then, loved and honoured with all care By monarch and by courtier, there    The glorious saint abode.

  18 Rishyas'ring's Departure  

The monarch called a Bráhman near    And said, 'Now speed away To Kas'yap's son, the mighty seer,    And with all reverence say The holy child he holds so dear, The hermit of the noble mind. Whose equal it were hard to find,    Returned, is dwelling here. Go, and instead of me do thou Before that best of hermits bow, That still he may, for his dear son, Show me the favour I have won.' Soon as the king these words had said, To Kas'yap's son the Bráhman sped. Before the hermit low he bent And did obeisance, reverent; Then with meek words his grace to crave The message of his lord he gave: 'The high-souled father of his bride Had called thy son his rites to guide: Those rites are o'er, the steed is slain; Thy noble child is come again.'

Soon as the saint that speech had heard His spirit with desire was stirred To seek the city of the king And to his cot his son to bring.

With young disciples at his side Forth on his way the hermit hied, While peasants from their hamlets ran To reverence the holy man, Each with his little gift of food, Forth came the village multitude, And, as they humbly bowed the head, 'What may we do for thee?' they said. Then he, of Bráhmans first and best, The gathered people thus addressed: 'Now tell me for I fain would know, Why is it I am honoured so?' They to the high-souled saint replied: 'Our ruler is with thee allied. Our master's order we fulfil; O Bráhman, let thy mind be still.'

With joy the saintly hermit heard Each pleasant and delightful word, And poured a benediction down On king and ministers and town. Glad at the words of that high saint Some servants hastened to acquaint Their king, rejoicing to impart The tidings that would cheer his heart. Soon as the joyful tale he knew To meet the saint the monarch flew, The guest-gift in his hand he brought, And bowed before him and besought: 'This day by seeing thee I gain Not to have lived my life in vain. Now be not wroth with me, I pray, Because I wiled thy son away.'  

The best of Bráhmans answer made: 'Be not, great lord of kings, afraid. Thy virtues have not failed to win My favour, O thou pure of sin.' Then in the front the saint was placed, The king came next in joyous haste, And with him entered his abode, Mid glad acclaim as on they rode. To greet the sage the reverent crowd Raised suppliant hands and humbly bowed. Then from the palace many a dame Following well-dressed S'ántá came, Stood by the mighty saint and cried: 'See, honour's source, thy son's dear bride.' The saint, who every virtue knew, His arms around his daughter threw, And with a father's rapture pressed The lady to his wondering breast. Arising from the saint's embrace She bowed her low before his face, And then, with palm to palm applied, Stood by her hermit father's side. He for his son, as laws ordain, Performed the rite that frees from stain,

And, honoured by the wise and good, With him departed to the wood.

  19 Birth of the Princes  

The seasons six in rapid flight Had circled since that glorious rite. Eleven months had passed away: 'Twas Chaitra's ninth returning day.   The moon within that mansion shone Which Aditi looks kindly on. Raised to their apex in the sky Five brilliant planets beamed on high. Shone with the moon, in Cancer's sign. Vrihaspati  with light divine. Kaus'alyá bore an infant blest With heavenly marks of grace impressed; Ráma, the universe's lord, A prince by all the worlds adored. New glory Queen Kaus'alyá won Reflected from her splendid son. So Aditi shone more and more, The Mother of the Gods, when she The King of the Immortals  bore, The thunder-wielding deity.

The lotus-eyed, the beauteous boy, He came fierce Rávan to destroy; From half of Vishnu's vigour born, He came to help the worlds forlorn. And Queen Kaikeyí bore a child Of truest valour, Bharat styled, With every princely virtue blest, One fourth of Vishnu manifest. Sumitrá too a noble pair, Called Lakshman and S'atrughna, bare, Of high emprise, devoted, true, Sharers in Vishnu's essence too. 'Neath Pushya's  mansion, Mína's  sign, Was Bharat born, of soul benign. The sun had reached the Crab at morn When Queen Sumitrá's babes were born, What time the moon had gone to make His nightly dwelling with the Snake. The high-souled monarch's consorts bore At different times those glorious four, Like to himself and virtuous, bright As Proshthapadá's four-fold light. Then danced the nymphs' celestial throng,   The minstrels raised their strain; The drums of heaven pealed loud and long, And dowers came down in rain. Within Ayodhyá, blithe and gay, All kept the joyous holiday. The spacious square, the ample road With mimes and dancers overflowed, And with the voice of music rang Where minstrels played and singers sang, And shone, a wonder to behold, With dazzling show of gems and gold, Nor did the king his largess spare, For minstrel, driver, bard, to share; Much wealth the Bráhmans bore away, And many thousand dine that day.

Soon as each babe was twelve days old 'Twas time the naming rite to hold. When Saint Vas'ishtha, rapt with joy, Assigned a name to every boy. Ráma, to him the high-souled heir, Bharat, to him Kaikeyí bare: Of Queen Sumitrá one fair son Was Lakshman, and S'atrughna one.

Ráma,his sire's supreme delight, Like some proud banner cheered his sight, And to all creatures seemed to be The self-existent deity. All heroes, versed in holy lore, To all mankind great love they bore. Fair stores of wisdom all possessed, With princely graces all were blest. But mid those youths of high descent, With lordly light preeminent. Like the full moon unclouded, shone Ráma, the world's dear paragon. He best the elephant could guide.   Urge the fleet car, the charger ride; A master he of bowman's skill, Joying to do his father's will. The world's delight and darling, he Loved Lakshman best from infancy; And Lakshman, lord of lofty fate, Upon his elder joyed to wait, Striving his second self to please With friendship's sweet observances. His limbs the hero ne'er would rest Unless the couch his brother pressed; Except beloved Ráma shared He could not taste the meal prepared. When Ráma, pride of Raghu's race, Sprang on his steed to urge the chase, Behind him Lakshman loved to go And guard him with his trusty bow. As Ráma was to Lakshman dear More than his life and ever near, So fond S'atrughna prized above His very life his Bharat's love. Illustrious heroes, nobly kind In mutual love they all combined, And gave their royal sire delight With modest grace and warrior might: Supported by the glorious four Shone Das'aratha more and more, As though, with every guardian,*God Who keeps the land and skies, The Father of all creatures trod The earth before men's eyes.