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Delphi Collected Sanskrit Epics

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Explore Sanskrit literature, the classical language of India, representing a rich cultural tradition from the time of the Vedas in the second millennium BC until Late Antiquity. The leading works of Indian epic poetry are the ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Mahabharata’, as well as The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature and Sangam literature. These texts are among some of the oldest surviving epic poems ever written. The Delphi Poets Series offers readers the works of literature's finest poets, with superior formatting. This volume presents a comprehensive range of Sanskrit epics, including the complete ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’, with illustrations and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)



* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to the leading works of Sanskrit epic poetry

* Concise introduction to the epic poems

* Complete ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’, with scholarly footnotes

* Excellent formatting of the poems

* Rare other Sanskrit epics appearing for the first time in digital publishing - explore the rich heritage of Sanskrit literature

* Easily locate the sections you want to read

* Features a biography on the leading poet Kalidasa

* Bonus text of Arthur Anthony Macdonell’s ‘A History of Sanskrit Literature’

* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres


CONTENTS:

The Hindu Itihasa
Ramayana by Valmiki (Translated by Ralph Thomas Hotchkin)
Mahabharata by Vyasa (Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli)

Other Sanskrit Epics
Buddhacharita by Asvaghosa (Translated by E. B. Cowell)
Saundarananda by Asvaghosa (Translated by E. H. Johnston)
Selections from ‘Raghuvamsha’ by Kalidasa (Translated by Arthur W. Ryder)
Selections from ‘Kumarasambhava’ by Kalidasa (Translated by Arthur W. Ryder)
Shishupala Vadha by Magha (Cantos I-IV) (Translated by M. S. Bhandare)
Kiratarjuniya by Bharavi (Translated by Romesh Chunder Dutt)
Bhattikavya by Bhatti (Canto I) (Anonymous translation 1867)

The Biographies
A History of Sanskrit Literature by Arthur Anthony Macdonell
Kalidasa: His Life and Writings by Arthur W. Ryder

Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to browse through our range of poetry titles or buy the entire Delphi Poets Series as a Super Set

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2018
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Delphi Classics
언어:
english
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13691
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Delphi Poets Series
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The Sanskrit Epics

(c. 1500 BC-AD 1000)



Contents

The Hindu Itihasa

Ramayana by Valmiki

Mahabharata by Vyasa

Other Sanskrit Epics

Buddhacharita by Asvaghosa

Saundarananda by Asvaghosa

Selections from ‘Raghuvamsha’ by Kalidasa

Selections from ‘Kumarasambhava’ by Kalidasa

Shishupala Vadha by Magha (Cantos I-IV)

Kiratarjuniya by Bharavi

Bhattikavya by Bhatti (Canto I)

The Biographies

A History of Sanskrit Literature by Arthur Anthony Macdonell

Kalidasa: His Life and Writings by Arthur W. Ryder

The Delphi Classics Catalogue



© Delphi Classics 2018

Version 1





The Sanskrit Epics



By Delphi Classics, 2018





COPYRIGHT


The Sanskrit Epics - Delphi Poets Series



First published in the United Kingdom in 2018 by Delphi Classics.

© Delphi Classics, 2018.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.

ISBN: 978 1 78656 128 2

Delphi Classics

is an imprint of

Delphi Publishing Ltd

Hastings, East Sussex

United Kingdom

Contact: sales@delphiclassics.com



www.delphiclassics.com





NOTE



When reading poetry on an eReader, it is advisable to use a small font size and landscape mode, which will allow the lines of poetry to display correctly.





The Hindu Itihasa





Yamuna River , near Kalpi, a town and a municipal board in Jalaun district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh — according to Vishnu Purana, Vyasa , the composer of ‘Mahabharata’ was born on an island by Kalpi.





Ramayana by Valmiki




Translated by Ralph Thomas Hotchkin

Sanskrit literature is a large body of works produced by the Aryan peoples that entered the Indian subcontinent from the northwest, probably during the second millennium BC. It developed as the vehicle of expression for the Brahmanical society, gradually establishing itself as the main cultural force throughout th; e region in the period before the Muslim conquest. Throughout this period of 2,500 years the dating of most literary works is difficult due to the tendency to ascribe authorship to well-known or legendary names. The two main periods in the development of Sanskrit literature are the Vedic period, approximately 1500–200 BC and the classical period, approximately 500 BC–AD 1000.

The epic poem Ramayana narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. Along with the Mahabharata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa, the most revered series of Hindu scriptures and texts in Sanskrit literature. The classical Indian poets usually derived the story of their poetry and drama from the Itihasas. Traditionally ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki, Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature, consisting of nearly 24,000 verses (mostly set in the Shloka meter), divided into seven Kandas (books) and about 500 sargas (chapters). In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya (first poem). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying model characters, such as the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The epic was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata, it is not just a story, but presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements.

The epic narrates the birth of the god Rama in the kingdom of Ayodhya, his tutelage under the sage Vishvamitra and his success in bending Shiva’s mighty bow at the bridegroom tournament of Sita, the daughter of King Janaka, therefore winning her for his wife. When Rama is banished from his position as heir to the kingdom, he retreats to the forest with his wife and his favourite half brother, Lakshmana, to spend fourteen years in exile.

Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka, captures Sita, taking her to his capital, while her two protectors are pursuing a golden deer sent to mislead them. Sita resolutely rejects Ravana’s attentions and Rama and his brother set out to rescue her. After numerous adventures, they forge an alliance with Sugriva, king of the monkeys, and, with the assistance of the monkey-general Hanuman and Ravana’s own brother, Vibhishana, they attack Lanka. Rama slays Ravana and rescues Sita, who undergoes an ordeal by fire in order to clear herself of infidelity. When they return to Ayodhya, however, Rama learns that the people still question the queen’s chastity and he banishes her to the forest. There she meets the sage Valmiki (the poem’s author) and at his hermitage gives birth to Rama’s two sons. The family is reunited when the sons come of age, but Sita, after again protesting her innocence, plunges into the earth, her mother, who receives her and swallows her up.

By tradition, the text belongs to the Treta Yuga, second of the four eons of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the Treta yuga to king Dasharatha in the Ikshvaku dynasty. There is no consensus regarding the date the epic poem was first composed, though it is generally held to be no later than 300 BC. It enjoys enormous popularity in India, where its recitation is considered an act of great merit. Little is known of the poet Valmiki as a historical figure, though he is described as having been a thief named Ratnakara, before becoming a sage. The Ramayana was popular during the Mughal period (sixteenth century) and it was a favourite subject of Rajasthani and Pahari painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The epic also spread in various forms throughout Southeast Asia in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. The heroes, together with the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata, were also the heroes of traditional Javanese-Balinese theatre, dance and shadow plays.





Eighteenth century manuscript of the epic poem





Rama (left third from top) depicted in the Dashavatara, the ten avatars of Vishnu. Painting from Jaipur, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum





CONTENTS


BOOK I.

BOOK II.

BOOK III.

BOOK IV.

BOOK V.

BOOK VI.

APPENDIX.

ENDNOTES

RAMAYANA: DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS





Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana during exile in forest, manuscript, c. 1780





An artist’s impression of Valmiki Muni composing the Ramayana





Ancient Sanskrit on Hemp based Paper. Hemp Fiber was commonly used in the production of paper from 200 BC to the late 1800's.





Invocation.1




Praise to Válmíki,2bird of charming song,3

Who mounts on Poesy’s sublimest spray,

And sweetly sings with accent clear and strong

Ráma, aye Ráma, in his deathless lay.

Where breathes the man can listen to the strain

That flows in music from Válmíki’s tongue,

Nor feel his feet the path of bliss attain

When Ráma’s glory by the saint is sung!

The stream Rámáyan leaves its sacred fount

The whole wide world from sin and stain to free.4

The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount,

The lordly Ráma is the darling sea.

Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!

Glory to him, Prachetas’5holy son!

Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight

The nectar-sea of deeds by Ráma done.

Hail, arch-ascetic, pious, good, and kind!

Hail, Saint Válmíki, lord of every lore!

Hail, holy Hermit, calm and pure of mind!

Hail, First of Bards, Válmíki, hail once more!





BOOK I.6





Canto I. Nárad.7




OM.8

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:9

“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’s10 best and dearest friend,

Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?

Who may with Sun and Moon compare,

With Indra,11 Vishṇu,12 Fire, and Air?

Grant, Saint divine,13 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,14

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’s15 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 throat displays the auspicious sign.16



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;17

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 Vedas18and their kindred lore.

Well skilled is he the bow to draw,19

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 Kauśalyá’s20heart,

In every virtue he has part:

Firm as Himálaya’s21 snowy steep,

Unfathomed like the mighty deep:

The peer of Vishṇu’s power and might,

And lovely as the Lord of Night;22

Patient as Earth, but, roused to ire,

Fierce as the world-destroying fire;

In bounty like the Lord of Gold,23

And Justice self in human mould.

With him, his best and eldest son,

By all his princely virtues won

King Daśaratha24 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,

The wretched king perforce complied.



Ráma, to please Kaikeyí went

Obedient forth to banishment.

Then Lakshmaṇ’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 Rohiṇí

Rejoicing with the Moon to be.25

The King and people, sad of mood,

The hero’s car awhile pursued.

But when Prince Ráma lighted down

At Śringavera’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 Chitrakúṭa’s hill.

And Ráma there, with Lakshmaṇ’s aid,

A pleasant little cottage made,

And spent his days with Sítá, dressed

In coat of bark and deerskin vest.26

And Chitrakúṭa grew to be

As bright with those illustrious three

As Meru’s27 sacred peaks that shine

With glory, when the Gods recline

Beneath them: Śiva’s28 self between

The Lord of Gold and Beauty’s Queen.

The aged king for Ráma pined,

And for the skies the earth resigned.

Bharat, his son, refused to reign,

Though urged by all the twice-born29 train.

Forth to the woods he fared to meet

His brother, fell before his feet,

And cried, “Thy claim all men allow:

O come, our lord and king be thou.”

But Ráma nobly chose to be

Observant of his sire’s decree.

He placed his sandals30 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 Chitrakúṭa’s hill

Fared Ráma ever onward till



Beneath the shady trees he stood

Of Daṇḍaká’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 Śúrpaṇakhá’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 Dúshaṇ to the contest sped.

But they and myriad fiends beside

Beneath the might of Ráma died.

When Rávaṇ, dreaded warrior, knew

The slaughter of his giant crew:

Rávaṇ, 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 Rávaṇ’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 vulture31 slew, and bore away

The wife of Ráma as his prey.

The son of Raghu32 came and found

Jaṭáyu 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 Sítá 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 fiend33 by Báli slain.

The prostrate corse of mountain size

Seemed nothing in the hero’s eyes;

He lightly kicked it, as it lay,

And cast it twenty leagues34 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’s35 town he urged his way,

Where Rávaṇ held his royal sway.



There pensive ‘neath Aśoka36 boughs

He found poor Sítá, 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 he 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 Brahmá37 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’ King38

Obedient to the summoning.

A bridge was thrown by Nala o’er

The narrow sea from shore to shore.39

They crossed to Lanká’s golden town,

Where Ráma’s hand smote Rávaṇ down.

Vibhishaṇ there was left to reign

Over his brother’s wide domain.

To meet her husband Sítá came;

But Ráma, stung with ire and shame,

With bitter words his wife addressed

Before the crowd that round her pressed.

But Sítá, 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 Age40 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,41

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 land shall reign,

The merchant, luck in trade obtain;

And Śúdras listening42 ne’er shall fail

To reap advantage from the tale.43





Canto II. Brahmá’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’s44 sequestered side,

Not far remote from Gangá’s tide.

He stood and saw the ripples roll

Pellucid o’er a pebbly shoal.

To Bharadvája45 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 hest

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 lifeblood 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 śloke.”46

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,47 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,48 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 Lakshmaṇ, how the giants fought;

With high emprise and hidden thought:

And all that Janak’s child49 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, and 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.50

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 śloke.”

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.





Canto III. The 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,51

He sate, in reverent attitude

On holy grass,52 the points all bent

Together toward the orient;53

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 Daśaratha 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 Sítá 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 Viśvámitra told.

How Janak’s child he wooed and won,

And broke the bow that bent to none.

How he with every virtue fraught

His namesake Ráma54 met and fought.

The choice of Ráma for the throne;

The malice by Kaikeyí 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 he journeyed still

And came to Chitrakúṭa’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 Daṇḍak wood

And in Sutíkhṇa’s presence stood.

The favour Anasúyá showed,

The wondrous balsam she bestowed.

How Śarabhanga’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 Panchavaṭa set.

How Śúrpaṇakhá underwent

The mockery and disfigurement.

Of Triśirá’s and Khara’s fall,

Of Rávaṇ roused at vengeance call,

Márícha doomed, without escape;

The fair Videhan55 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 Hanumán 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 Aśoka 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 Vibhíshaṇ made:

The plan for Rávaṇ’s slaughter laid.

How Kumbhakarṇa in his pride

And Meghanáda fought and died.

How Rávaṇ in the fight was slain,

And captive Sítá brought again.

Vibhíshaṇ 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 Bharadvája’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 verses all

That yet to come will once befall.





Canto IV. The 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,

Kuśá and Lava56 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 these he taught:

The lay whose verses sweet and clear

Take with delight the listening ear,

That tell of Sítá’s noble life

And Rávaṇ’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,57 wrought with care

With melody and tone and time,

And flavours58 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 showed their sire 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 had 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.59

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 steed60 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 Lakshmaṇ 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 Válmíki’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.





Canto V. Ayodhyá.




“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:61

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’s62 bank, of ample size,

The happy realm of Kośal lies,



With fertile length of fair champaign

And flocks and herds and wealth of grain.

There, famous in her old renown,

Ayodhyá63 stands, the royal town,

In bygone ages built and planned

By sainted Manu’s64 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 Daśaratha, lofty-souled,

That city guarded and controlled,

With towering Sál trees belted round,65

And many a grove and pleasure ground,

As royal Indra, throned on high,

Rules his fair city in the sky.66

She seems a painted city, fair

With chess-board line and even square.67

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;68

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.69

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.





Canto VI. The King.




THERE REIGNED A king of name revered,

To country and to town endeared,

Great Daśaratha, 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 Vaiśyas’ peaceful crowd,

Who trade and toil for gain, were proud

To honour and obey;

And all were by the Śúdras70 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.71

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’s72 hills and Sindhu’s73 sand,

Vanáyu74 and Kámboja’s land.75



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, Anjan, and, Airávat, thine.76

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.77

Thus, worthy of the name she bore,78

Ayodhyá for a league or more

Cast a bright glory round,

Where Daśaratha 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.





Canto VII. The Ministers.




TWO SAGES, HOLY saints, had he,

His ministers and priests to be:

Vaśishṭha, faithful to advise,

And Vámadeva, Scripture-wise.

Eight other lords around him stood,

All skilled to counsel, wise and good:

Jayanta, Vijay, Dhrishṭi bold

In fight, affairs of war controlled:

Siddhárth and Arthasádhak true

Watched o’er expense and revenue,

And Dharmapál and wise Aśok

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 Vasus79 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 hide their counsel or disclose.

In foreign lands 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 tempter 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.





Canto VIII. 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, Vaśishṭha 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 Kaśyap’s80 race, a holy man,

Vibháṇdak named: to him shall spring

A son, the famous Rishyaśring.

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’81 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 Vibháṇdak’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 Rishyaśring.

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 Rishyaśring

To Lomapád, the mighty king,

By wedlock be allied;

For Śántá, 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 Daśaratha 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 Daśaratha cried with joy,

“Say how they brought the hermit boy.”





Canto IX. Rishyasring.




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 Vibháṇdak 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’s82 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 Kaśyap’s son, a saint most high,

Vibháṇdak styled; from him I came,

And Rishyaśring 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.

Vibháṇdak’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 cate 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 Rishyaśring, 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 Rishyaśring 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 Vibháṇdak 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.

Vibháṇdak 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 Rishyaśring: and he

Vibháṇdak’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 Rishyaśring

Passed in that royal town his life

With Śántá his beloved wife.”





Canto X. Rishyasring 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 Daśaratha, 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,

Śántá of happy destiny.

But Lomapád, the Angas’ chief,

Still pining in his childless grief,

To Daśaratha thus shall say:

“Give me thy daughter, friend, I pray,

Thy Śántá 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 Rishyaśring the king shall wed.

And he with loving joy and pride

Shall take her for his honoured bride.

And Daśaratha to a rite

That best of Bráhmans shall invite

With supplicating prayer,

To celebrate the sacrifice

To win him sons and Paradise,83

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 Daśaratha heard,

Then by Vaśishṭha’s side he stood

And thus with him conferred:

“Sumantra counsels thus: do thou

My priestly guide, the plan allow.”

Vaśishṭha gave his glad consent,

And forth the happy monarch went

With lords and servants on the road

That led to Rishyaśring’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 of men thus broke

His purpose to the king, and spoke:

“O King of men, mine ancient friend,

(Thus Daśaratha prayed)

Thy Śántá 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 Śántás 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 Śántá at his side

To Daśaratha’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 Daśaratha’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

Obediently 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 Rishyaśring.

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 Rishyaśring passed blissful days,

Graced like the king with love and praise

And shone in glorious light with her,

Sweet Śántá, for his minister,

As Brahmá’s son Vaśishṭha, he

Who wedded Saint Arundhatí.84





Canto XI. The Sacrifice Decreed.




The Dewy Season85 came and went;

The spring returned again:

Then would the king, with mind intent,

His sacrifice ordain.



He came to Rishyaśring, 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 Vaśishṭha and the rest,

In Scripture deeply read.

Suyajǹa, Vámadeva came,

Jávali, Kaśyap’s son,

And old Vaśishṭha, dear to fame,

Obedient every one.

King Daśaratha 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 Rishyaśring 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 Vaśishṭha 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,86

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 Daśaratha 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.





Canto XII. The 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 Vaśishṭha, 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 Vaśiṣṭha 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 Míthilá87 obey.

The firm of vow, the dread of foes,

Who all the lore of Scripture knows,

Invite him here with honour high,

King Daśaratha’s old ally.

And Káśi’s88 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’s89 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 Suráshṭra’s90 land,

Suvíra’s91 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.”

Vaśishṭha’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 Vaśishṭha 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 Daśaratha bore.

Then joy thrilled through Vaśishṭha’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 Rishyaśring 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 Vaśishṭha led

The priest begun to speed

Those glorious rites wherein is shed

The lifeblood of the steed.





Canto XIII. The 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 Rishyaśring 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 rites92 were duly sped:

For Upasads93 the flames were fed.

Then from the plant94 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 Daśaratha’s head.

Then Rishyaśring 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 entoned

They gave 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.95

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 science96 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 Bel97 and Khádir98 six and six;

Six, made of the Paláśa99 tree,

Of Fig-wood one, apart to be:

Of Sleshmát100 and of Devadár101

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.102

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

Kauśalyá, 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 Kauśalyá to attend,

Their company and aid to lend.

As by the horse she still reclined,

With happy mien and cheerful mind,

With Rishyaśring 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 Chatushṭom 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 Viśvajit

With every form and service fit;

And with the sacrifice at night

The Jyotishṭom and Áyus rite.103

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,104

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 Vaśishṭha, high of soul,

And Rishyaśring they gave the whole.

That largess pleased those Bráhmans well,

Who bade the prince his wishes tell.

Then Daśaratha, mighty king,

Made answer thus to Rishyaśring:

“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.”





Canto XIV. Rávan 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 Vibháṇdak’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,

Stháṇu, Náráyaṇ, Lord most high,

And holy Indra men might view

With Maruts105 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 Daśaratha 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,

Rávaṇ, 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 Rávaṇ’s feet,

And, necklaced with the wandering wave,

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.

To 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 his 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 Vishṇu to the council came;

His hands shell, mace, and discus bore,

And 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 Madhu106 slew,

Be thou our refuge, firm and true;

Friend of the suffering worlds art thou,

We pray thee help thy suppliants now.”

Then Vishṇu spake: “Ye Gods, declare,

What may I do to grant your prayer?”

“King Daśaratha,” 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

Rávaṇ who laughs at heavenly might:

This common scourge, this rankling thorn

Whom the three worlds too long have borne

For Rávaṇ 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’s107 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 Náráyaṇ108 made:

“What task demands my presence there,

And whence this dread, ye Gods declare.”

The Gods replied: “We fear, O Lord,

Fierce Rávaṇ, 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 Vishṇu, 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, and nymph, and minstrel 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 Rávaṇ 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.”





Canto XV. The Nectar.




WHEN WISEST VISHṆU 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 Daśaratha, 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.109

Then Vishṇu, 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 sons 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.110

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 Kauśalyá 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.





Canto XVI. The Vánars.




WHEN VISHṆU 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 Vishṇu’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 Vishṇu’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.111



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,112

Each faun,113 of children strong and good

Whose feet should roam the hill and wood.

Snakes, bards,114 and spirits,115 serpents bold

Had sons too numerous to be told.

Báli, the woodland hosts who led,

High as Mahendra’s116 lofty head,

Was Indra’s child. That noblest fire,

The Sun, was great Sugríva’s sire,

Tára, the mighty monkey, he

Was offspring of Vṛihaspati:117

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 Viśvakarmá118 came.

From Agni,119 Nila bright as flame,

Who in his splendour, might, and worth,

Surpassed the sire who gave him birth.

The heavenly Aśvins,120 swift and fair,

Were fathers of a noble pair,

Who, Dwivida and Mainda named,

For beauty like their sires were famed,

Varuṇ121 was father of Susheṇ,

Of Sarabh, he who sends the rain,122

Hanúmán, best of monkey kind,

Was son of him who breathes the wind:

Like thunderbolt in frame was he,

And swift as Garuḍ’s123 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 Garuḍ’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.124





Canto XVII. Rishyasring’s Return.




NOW WHEN THE high-souled monarch’s rite,

The Aśvamedh, 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 Daśaratha, 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, Rishyaśring, well-honoured sage,

And Śántá, sought their hermitage.

The king himself, of prudent mind,

Attended him, with troops behind.

And all her men the town outpoured

With Saint Vaśishṭha and their lord.

High mounted on a car of state,

O’er canopied fair Śántá 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 store.

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’s125 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 Rishyaśring

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:

“Kauśalyá and Sumitrá dear,

And thou, my sweet Kaikeyí, hear.

All upon Śántá feast your gaze,

The last time for a length of days.”

To Śántá’s arms the ladies leapt,

And hung about her neck and wept,

And cried, “O, 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 Śántá, 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 Rishyaśring’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 Daśaratha 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’126 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 Rishyaśring 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.





Canto XVIII. Rishyasring’s Departure.




THE MONARCH CALLED a Bráhman near

And said, “Now speed away

To Kaśyap’s son,127 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 Kaśyap’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.128

The best of Bráhmans answer made:

“Be not, great lord of kings, afraid.

Thy virtues have not failed to win

My favour, O t