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The Ramayan of Válmíki translated into English verse by Ralph T.H. Griffith .. online

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Methinks thou couldst not hope to find
One spark of virtue in my mind,
If thou, whose wish is still my lord,
Hast for this grace the king implored,
This day I go, but, ere we part,
Must chew my Site's tender heart,
To my dear mother bid farewell ',
Then to the woods, a while to dwell.
With thee, O Queen, the care must rest
That Bharat hear his sire's behest,
And guard the land with righteous sway,
For such the law that lives for aye.'

In speechless woe the father heard,
Wept with loud cries, but spoke no word*
Then Rama touched his senseless feet,
And hers, for honour most unmeet ;
Round both his circling steps he bent,
Then from the bower the hero went.
Soon as he reached the gate he found
His dear companions gathered round.
Behind him came Sumitra's child
With weeping eyes so sad and wild.
Then saw he all that rich array
Of vases for the glorious day.
Round them with reverent steps he paced,
Nor vailed his eye, nor moved in haste.
The loss of empire could not dim
The glory that encompassed him.
So will the Lord of Cooling Rays 1
On whom the world delights to gaze,
Through the great love of all retain
Sweet splendour in the time of wane.
Now to the exile's lot resigned
He left the rule of earth behind :
As though all worldly cares he spurned
No trouble was in him discerned.
The chouries that for kings are used,
And white umbrella, he refused,
Dismissed his chariot and his men,
And every friend and citizen.
He ruled 'his senses, nor betrayed
The grief that on his bosom weighed,
And thus his mother's mansion sought
To tell the mournful news he brought.
Nor could the gay-clad people there
Who flocked round Rama true and fair,
One sign of altered fortune trace
Upon the splendid hero's face.
Nor had the chieftain, mighty-armed,
Lost the bright look all hearts that charm ed,

i The Moon.



116



THE RAM AY AN.



Boole II.



As e'en from autumn moons is thrown
A splendour which is all their own.
With his sweet voice the hero spoke
Saluting all the gathered folk,
Then righteous-souled and great in fame
Close to his mother's house he came.
Lakshman the brave, his brother's peer
In princely virtues, followed near,
Sore troubled, but resolved to show
No token of his secret woe.
Thus to the palace Rama went

Where all were gay with hope and joy;
But well he knew the dire event

That hope would mar, that bliss destroy.
So to his grief he would not yield

Lest the sad change their hearts might

rend,
And, the dread tiding unrevealed,

Spared from the bio w each faithful friend.

CANTO XX.



KAUg ALGA'S LAMENT.

But in the monarch's palace, when
Sped' from the bower that lord of men,
Up from the weeping women went
A mighty \vail and wild lament :
Ah, he who ever freely did
His duty ere his sire could bid,
Our refuge and our sure defence,
This day will go an exile hence.
He on Kausalya loves to wait
Most tender and affectionate,
And as he treats his mother, thus
From childhood has he treated us.
On themes that sting he will not speak,
And when reviled is calm and meek.
He soothes the angry, heals offence :
He goes to-day an exile hence.
Our lord the king is most unwise,
And looks on life with doting eyes,
Who in his folly casts away
The world's protection, hope, and stay.'
Thus in their woe, like kine bereaved
Of their young calves, l the ladies grieved,



1 The comparison may to a European
reader seem a homely one, But Spenser
likens an infuriate woman to a cow

' Thatisberobbedof her youngling dere.'
Shakspeare also makes King Henry VI.
compare himself to the calf's mother that

'Runs lowing up and down, Looking
the way her harmless young one went.'
* Cows,' says De Quincey, ' are amongst
the gentlest of breathing creatures ; none
show more passionate tenderness to their
young, when deprived of them, and, in
short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep
love for these gentle creatures.'



And ever as they wept and wailed
With keen reproach the king assailed.
Their lamentation, mixed with tears,
Smote with new grief the monarch's ears,
Who, burnt with woe too great to bear,
Fell on his couch and fainted there.

Then Rama, smitten with the pain
His heaving heart could scarce restrain,
Groaned like an elephant and strode
With Lakshman to the queen's abode.
A warder there, whose hoary eld
In honour high by all was held,
Guarding the mansion, sat before
The portal, girt with many more.
Swift to their feet the warders sprang,
And loud the acclamation rang,
Hail, Rama ! as to him they bent,
Of victor chiefs preeminent.
One court he passed, and in the next
Saw, masters of each Veda text,
A crowd of Brahmans, good and sage,
Dear to the king for lore and age,
To these he bowed his reverent head,
Thence to the court beyond he sped.
Old dames and tender girls, their care
To keep the doors, were stationed there.
And all, when Rama came in view,
Delighted to the chamber flew,
To bear to Queen Kausalya s ear
The tidings that she loved to hear.
The queen, on rites and prayer intent,
In careful watch the night had spent,
And at the dawn, her son to aid,
To Vishnu holy offerings made.
Firm in her vows, serenely glad,
In robes of spotless linen clad,
As texts prescribe, with grace implored,
Her offerings in the fire she poured.
Within her splendid bower he came,
And saw her feed the sacred flame
There oil, and grain, and vases stood,
With wreaths, and curds, and cates, and

wood,

And milk, and sesamum, and rice,
The elements of sacrifice.
She, worn and pale with many a fast
And midnight hours in vigil past,
In robes of purest white arrayed,
To Lakshml Queen drink-offerings paid.
So long away, she flew to meet

The darling of her soul :
So runs a mare with eager feet

To welcome back her foal.
He with his firm support upheld

The queen, as near she drew,
And, by maternal love impelled,

Her arms around him threw.
Her hero son, her matchless boy

She kissed upon the head :
She blessed him in her pride and joy
With tender words, and said :



Canto XX.



THE RAMA? AN.



117



' Be like thy royal sires of old,
The nobly good, the lofty-souled !
Their lengthened days and fame be thine,
And virtue, as beseems thy line !
The pious king, thy father, see
True to his promise made to thee :
That truth thy sire this day will show,
And regent's power on thee bestow.'

She spoke. He took the proffered seat,
And as she pressed her son to eat,
Raised reverent hands, and, touched with

shame,

Made answer to the royal dame :
' Dear lady, thou hast yet to know
That danger threats, and heavy woe ;
A grief that will with sore distress
On Sita, thee, and Lakshman press.-
What need of seats have such as I ?
This day to Dandak wood I fly.
The hour is come, a time, unmeet
For silken couch and gilded seat.
I must to lonely wilds repair,
Abstain from flesh, and living there
On roots, fruit, honey, hermit's food,
Pass twice seven years in solitude. '
To Bharat's hand the king will yield
The regent power I thought to wield,
And me, a hermit, will he send
My days in Dandak wood to spend, 1

As when the "woodman's axe has lopped
A $al branch in the grove, she dropped :
So from the skies a Goddess falls
Ejected from her radiant halls.

When Rama saw her lying low,
Prostrate by too severe a blow,
Around her form his arms he wound
And raised her fainting from the ground.
His hand upheld her like a mare
Who feels her load too sore to bear,
And sinks upon the way o'ertoiled,
And all her limps with dust are soiled.
He soothed her in her wild distress
With loving touch and soft caress.
She, meet for highest fortune, eyed
The hero watching by her side,
And thus, while Lakshman bent to hear,
Addressed her son with many a tear :
* If, Rama, thou had ne'er been born
My child to make thy mother mourn,
Though reft of joy, a childless queen,
Such woe as this I ne'er had seen.
Though to the childless wife there clings
O.ne sorrow armed with keenest stings,
'No child have I : no child have I,'
No second misery prompts the sigh.
When long I sought, alas, in vain,
My husband's love and bliss to gain,
In Rama all my hopes I set
And dreamed I might be happy yet.
I, of the consorts first and best,
Must bear my rivals' taunt and jest,



And brook, though better far than they,
The soul distressing words they say.
What woman can be doomed to pine
In misery more sore than mine,
Whose hopeless days must still be spent
In grief that ends not and lament ?
They scorned me when my son was nigh ;
When he is banished I must die.
Me, whom my husband never prized,
Kaikeyi's retinue despised
With boundless insolence, though she
Tops not in rank nor equals me.
And they who do me service yet,
Nor old allegiance quite forget,
Whene'er they see KaikeyiV son,
With silent lips my glances shan.
How, O my darling, shall I brook
Bach menace of Kaikeyi's look,
And listen, in my low estate,
To taunts of one so passionate?
For seventeen years since thou wast born
I sat and watched, ah me, forlorn !
Hoping some blessed day to see
Deliverance from my woes by thee.
Now comes this endless grief and wrong 1 ,
So dire I cannot bear it long,
Sinking, with age and sorrow worn,
Beneath my rivals' taunts and scorn.
How shall I pass in dark distress
My long lone days of wretchedness
Without my Rama's face, as bright
As the full moon to cheer my sight?
Alas, my cares thy steps to train,
And fasts, and vows, and prayers are vain
Hard, hard, I ween, must be this heart
To bear this blow nor burst apart,
As some great river bank, when first
The floods of Rain-time on it burst.
No, Fate that speeds not will not slay,

Nor Yama's halls vouchsafe me room,
Or, like a lion's weeping prey,

Death now had borne me to my doom.
Hard is my heart and wrought of steel

That breaks not with the crushing

blow,
Or in the pangs this day I feel

My lifeless frame had sunk below.
Death waits his hour, nor takes me now :

But this sad thought augments my painj
That prayer and largess, fast and vow,

And Heavenward service are in vain.
Ah me, ah me 1 with fruitless toil

Of rites austere a child I sought :
Thus seed cast forth on barren soil

Still lifeless lies and comes to naught.
If ever wretch by anguish grieved

Before his hour to death had fled,
I mourning, like a cow bereaved,

Had been this day among the dead.'



118



THE RAM AY AN.



Boole 11.



CANTO XXI.



KAUgALYA CALMED.

While thus Kausalya wept and sighed.

With timely words sad Lakshman cried :

'O honoured Queen I like it ill

That, subject to a woman's will,

Rama his royal state should quit

And to an exile's doom submit.

The aged king, fond, changed, and week,

Will as the queen compels him speak.

But why should Rama thus be sent

To the wild woods in banishment ?

No least offence I find in him,

I eee no fault his fame to dim.

Not one in all the world I know,

Not outcast wretch, not secret foe,

Whose whispering lips would dare assail

His spotless life with slanderous tale.

Godlike and bounteous, just, sincere,

E'en to his very foemen dear :

Who would without a cause neglect

The right, and such a son reject ?

And if a king such order gave,

In second childhood, passion's slave,

What son within his heart would lay

The senseless order, and obey?

Come, Rama, ere this plot be known

Stand by me and secure the throne.

Stand like the King who rules below,

Stand aided by thy brother's bow :

How can the might of meaner men

Resist thy royal purpose then ?

My shafts, if rebels court their fate,

Shall lay Ayodhya desolate.

Then shall her streets with blood be dyed

Of those who stand on Bharat's side :

None shall my slaughtering hand exempt,

For gentle patience earns contempt.

If, by Kaikeyi's counsel changed,

Our father's heart be thus estranged,

No mercy must our arm restrain,

But let the foe be slain, be slain.

For should the guide, respected long,

No more discerning right and wrong,

Turn in forbidden paths to stray,

'Tis meet that force his steps should stay.

What power sufficient can he see,

What motive for the wish has he,

That to Kaikeyi would resign

The empire which is justly thine ?

Can he, O conqueror of thy foes,

Thy strength and mine in war oppose?

Can he entrust, in our despite,

To Bharat's hand thy royal right ?

I love this brother with the whole

Affection of my faithful soul.

Yea Queen, by bow and truth I swear,

By sacrifice, and gift, aiid prayer,



If Rama to the forest goes,
Or where the burning furnace glows,
First shall my feet the forest tread,
The flames shall first surround my head.
My might shall chase thy grief and tears,
As darkness flies when morn appears.
Do thou, dear Queen, and Rama too
Behold what power like mine can do.
My aged father I will kill,
The vassal of Kaikeyi's will,
Old, yet a child, the woman's thrall,
Infirm, and base, the scorn of all.'

Thus Lakshman cried, the mighty-souled:
Down her sad cheeks the torrents rolled,
As to her son Kausalya spake ;

' Now thou hast heard thy brother, take
His counsel if thou hold it wise,
And do the thing his words advise.
Do not, my son, with tears I pray,
My rival's wicked word obey,
Leave me not here consumed with woe,
Nor to the wood, an exile, go,
If thou, to virtue ever true,
Thy duty's path would still pursue,
The highest duty bids thee stay
And thus thy mother's voice obey.
Ttius Kasyap's great ascetic son
A seat among the Immortals won :
In his own home, subdued, he stayed,
And honour to his mother paid.
If reverence to thy sire be due,
Thy mother claims like honour too,
And thus I charge thee, O my child,
Thou must not seek the forest wild.
Ah, what to me were life and bliss,
Condemned my darling son to miss?
But with my Rama near, to eat
The very grass itself were sweet.
But if thou still wilt go and leave
Thy hapless mother here to grieve,
I from that hour will food abjure,
Nor life without my son endure.
Then it will be thy fate to dwell
In depth of world detested hell,
As Ocean in the olden time
Was guilty of an impious crime
That marked the lord of each fair flood
As one who spills a Brahman's blood.' 1

Thus spake the queen, and wept, and

sighed ;

Then righteous Rama thus replied :
* 1 have no power to slight or break
Commandments which my father spake.
I bend my head, dear lady, low,
Forgive me, for I needs must go.
Once Kandu, mighty saint, who made
His dwelling in the forest shade,

1 The commentators say that, in a former
creation, Ocean grieved his mother and
suffered in consequence the pains of hell.



Canto XXL



THE RAMA YAN.



119



A cow and duty's claims he knew

Obedient to his father, slew.

And in the line from which we spring,

When ordered by their sire the king,

Through earth the sons of Sagar clsft,

And countless things of life bereft. 1

So Jamadagni's son 55 obeyed

His sire, when in the wood he laid

His hand upon his axe, and smote

Through Renuka his mother's throat.

The deeds of* these and more beside,

Peers of the Gods, my steps shall guide,

And resolute will I fill til

My father's word, my father's will.

Nor I, O Queen, unsanctioned tread

This righteous path, by duty led :

The road my footsteps journey o'er

Was traversed by the great of yore.

This high command which all accept

Shall faithfully by me be kept,

For duty ne'er will him forsake

Who fears his sire's command to break.'

Thus to his mother wild with grief:
Then thus to Lakshman spake the chief
Of those by whom the bow is bent,
Mid all who speak, most eloquent :
* I know what love for me thou hast,
What firm devotion unsurpassed :
Tny valour and thy worth I know,
And glory that appals the foe.
Blest youth, my mother's woe is great,
It bends her neath its matchless weight :
No claims will she, with blinded eyes,
Of truth and patience recognize.
For duty is supreme in place,
And truth is duty's noblest base.
Obedient to my sire's behest
I serve the cause of duty best.
For man should truly dp whate'er
To mother, Brahman, sire, he sware :
He must in duty's path remain,
Nor let his word be pledged in vain.
And, O my brother, how can I
Obedience to this charge deny ?
Kaikeyi's tongue my purpose spurred,
But 'twas my sire who gave the word.
Cast these unholy thoughts aside
Which smack of war and Warriors' pride;
To duty's call, not wrath attend,
And tread the path which I commend.'

Kama by fond affection moved
His brother Lakshman thus reproved ;
Then with joined hands and reverent head
Again to Queen Kausalya said:

' 1 needs must go do thou consent-
To the wild wood in banishment.
O give me, by my life I pray,
Thy blessing ere I go away.



1 As described in Book I Canto XL.
* Paras uraina.

y



I, when the promised years are o'er,

Shall see Ayodhya's town once more.

Then, mother dear, thy tears restrain,

Nor let thy heart be wrung by pain :

In time, my father's will obeyed,

Shall I return from greenwood shade.

My dear Videhan, thou, and I

Lakshman, Sumitra, feel this tie,

And must my father's word obey,

As duty bids that rules for aye.

Thy preparations now forgo,

And lock within thy breast thy woe,

Nor be my pious wish withstood

To go an exile to the wood.'

Calm and unmoved the prince explained

His duty's claim and purpose high,
The mother life and sense regained,

Looked on her son and made reply :

* If reverence be thy father's due,

The same by right and love is mine :
Go not, my charge I thus renew,

Nor leave me here in woe to pine,
What were such lonely life to me,

Rites to the shades, or deathless lot ?
More dear, my son, one hour with thee

Than all the world where thou art not.'
As bursts to view, when brands blaze high,

Some elephant concealed by night,
So, when lie heard his mother's cry,

Burnt Kama's grief with fiercer might.
Thus to the queen, half senseless still,

And Lakshman, burnt with heart-felt

pain,
True to the right, with steadfast will,

His duteous speech he spoke again :

* Brother. I know thy loving mind,

Thy valour and thy truth I know,
But now to claims of duty blind

Thou and my mother swell my woe.
The fruits of deeds in human life

Make love, gain, duty, manifest,
Dear when they meet as some fond wife

With her sweet babes upon her breast.
But man to duty first should turn

Whene'er the three are not combined:
For those who heed but gain we spurn,

And those to pleasure all resigned.
Shall then the virtuous disobey

Hests of an aged king and sire,
Though feverous joy that father sway,

Or senseless love or causeless ire ?
I have no power, commanded thus,

To slight his promise and decree:
The honoured sire of both of us,

My mother's lord and life is he.
Shall she, while yet the holy king

Is living, on the right intent,
Shall she, like some poor widowed thing,

Go forth with me to banishment?
Now. mother, speed thy parting *on.

And let thy blessing soothe my pain,



12*



THE RAMA YAN.



Boole II.



That I may turn, mine exile done,

Like Kkig Yayati, home again.
Fair glory and the fruit she gives,

For lust of sway I ne'er will slight :
What, for the span a mortal lives,

Were rule of earth without the right?'
He soothed her thus, firm to the last

His counsel to his brother told :
Then round the queen in reverence passed,

And held her in his loving hold.



CANTO XXII.
LAKSHMAN CALMED.

So Bama kept unshaken still

His noble heart with iron will.

To his dear brother next he turned,

Whose glaring eyes with fury burned,

Indignant, panting like a snake,

And thus again his counsel spake:

* Thine anger and thy grief restrain,

And firm in duty's path remain.

Dear brother, lay thy scorn aside,

And be the right thy joy and pride.

Thy ready zeal and thoughtful care

To aid what rites should grace the heir,

These 'tis another's now to ask ;

Come, gird thee for thy noble task,

That Bharat's throning rites may be

Graced with the things prepared for me.

Arid with thy gentle care provide

That her fond heart, now sorely tried

With fear and longing for my sake,

With doubt and dread may never ache.

To know that thoughts of co/ning ill

One hour that tender bosom fill

With agony and dark despair

Is grief too great for me to bear.

I cannot, brother, call to mind

One wilful fault or undesigned,

When I have pained in anything

My mothers or my sire the king.

The right my father keeps in view,

In promise, word, and action true ;

Let him then all his fear dismiss,

Nor dread the loss of future bliss.

He fears his truth herein will fail :

Hence bitter thoughts his heart assail.

He trembles lest the rites proceed,

And at his pangs my heart should bleed.

So now this earnest wish is mine,

The consecration to resign,

And from this city turn away

To the wild wood with no delay.

My banishment to-day will free

Kaikeyi from her cares, that she,

At last contented and elate,

May Bharat's throning celebrate.



'hen will the lady's trouble cease,
hen will her heart have joy and peace,
iVhen wandering in the wood I wear
Deerskin, and bark, and matted hair,
^or shall by me his heart be grieved
iVhose choice approved, whose mind con-
ceived

'his counsel which I follow. No,
'orth to the forest will I go.
Tis Fate, Sumitra's son, confess,
'hat sends me to the wilderness.
Tis Fate alone that gives away
?o other hands the royal sway.
low could Kaikeyi's purpose bring
3n me this pain and suffering,
Were not her change of heart decreed
y Fate whose will commands the deed ?
know my filial love has been
Dhe same throughout for every queen,
And with the same affection she
las treated both her son and me.
ier shameful words of cruel spite
To stay the consecrating rite,
And drive me banished from the throne,
These I ascribe to Fate alone,
low could she, born of royal race,
Whom nature decks with fairest grace,
Speak like a dame of low degree
before the king to torture me ?
But Fate, which none may comprehend,
To which all life must bow and bend,
[n her and me its power has shown,
Arid all my hopes are overthrown.
What man, Sumitra's darling, may
Contend with Fate's resistless sway,
Whose all-commanding power we find
Our former deeds alone can bind 1
Our life and death, our joy and pain,
Anger and fear, and loss and gain,
Each thing that is, in every state,
All is the work of none but Fate.
E'en saints, inspired with rigid zeal,
When once the stroke of Fate they feel,
In sternest vows no more engage,
And fall enslaved by love and rage.
So now the sudden stroke whose weight
Descends unlocked for, comes of Fate,
And with unpitying might destroys
The promise of commencing joys.
Weigh this true counsel in thy soul :
With thy firm heart thy heart control ;
Then, brother, thou wilt cease to grieve
For hindered rites which now I leave.
So cast thy needless grief away,
And strictly my commands obey.
These preparations check with speed,
Nor let my throning rites proceed.
These urns that stand prepared to shed
King-making drops upon my head,
Shall with their pure lustrations now
Inaugurate my hermit's vow.



XXIII.



THE RAMA YAN.



121



Yet what have I to do with things
That touch the state and pomp>f .kings?
These hands of mine shall water take
To sanctify the vow I make.
Now Lakshman, let thy heart- no more
My fortune changed and lost deplore.
A forest life more joys may bring
Than those that wait upon a king.
Now though her arts successful mar

My consecrating rite,
Let not the youngest queen too far

Thy jealous fear excite.
Nor let one thought suggesting ill

Upon our father fall,
But let thy heart remember still
That Fate is lord of all.'



.



CANTO XXIII.
AKSH MAN'S ANGER.



Thus Rama to his brother said ;

And Lakshman bent his drooping head.

In turns by grief and pride impelled,

A middle course of thought he held.

Then in a frown of anger, bent

His brows that chief most excellent,

And like a serpent in his hole,

Breathed fierce and fast in wrath of soul.

His threatening brows so darkly frowned,

His eyes so fiercely glanced around,

They made his glare, which none might

brook,

Like some infuriate lion's look.
Like some wild elephant, full oft
He raised and shook his hand 1 aloft.
Now turned his neck to left and right
Now bent, now raised its stately height.
Now in his rage that sword he felt
Which mangling wounds to foemen dealt,
With sidelong glance his brother eyed,
And thus in burning words replied :
* Thy rash resolve, thy eager haste,
Thy mighty fear, are all misplaced :
No room is here for duty's claim,
No cause to dread the people's blame.
Can one so brave as thou consent



Online LibraryValmikiThe Ramayan of Válmíki translated into English verse by Ralph T.H. Griffith .. → online text (page 22 of 95)