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Ramayana, Book 2, The

Canto LII. The Crossing Of Gangá.

Soon as the shades of night had fled,
Uprising from his lowly bed,
Ráma the famous, broad of chest,
His brother Lakshmaṇ thus addressed:
“Now swift upsprings the Lord of Light,
And fled is venerable night.
That dark-winged bird the Koïl now
Is calling from the topmost bough,
And sounding from the thicket nigh
Is heard the peacock's early cry.
Come, cross the flood that seeks the sea,
The swiftly flowing Jáhnaví.”324
King Guha heard his speech, agreed,
And called his minister with speed:
“A boat,” he cried, “swift, strong, and fair,
With rudder, oars, and men, prepare,
And place it ready by the shore
To bear the pilgrims quickly o'er.”
Thus Guha spake: his followers all
Bestirred them at their master's call;
Then told the king that ready manned
A gay boat waited near the strand.
Then Guha, hand to hand applied,
With reverence thus to Ráma cried:
“The boat is ready by the shore:
How, tell me, can I aid thee more?
O lord of men, it waits for thee
To cross the flood that seeks the sea.
O godlike keeper of thy vow,
Embark: the boat is ready now.”
Then Ráma, lord of glory high,
Thus to King Guha made reply:
“Thanks for thy gracious care, my lord:
Now let the gear be placed on board.”
Each bow-armed chief, in mail encased,
Bound sword and quiver to his waist,
And then with Sítá near them hied
Down the broad river's shelving side.
Then with raised palms the charioteer,
In lowly reverence drawing near,
Cried thus to Ráma good and true:
“Now what remains for me to do?”
With his right hand, while answering
The hero touched his friend:
“Go back,” he said, “and on the king
With watchful care attend.
Thus far, Sumantra, thou wast guide;
Now to Ayodhyá turn,” he cried:
“Hence seek we leaving steeds and car,
On foot the wood that stretches far.”
Sumantra, when, with grieving heart,
He heard the hero bid him part,
Thus to the bravest of the brave,
Ikshváku's son, his answer gave:
“In all the world men tell of naught,
To match thy deed, by heroes wrought—
Thus with thy brother and thy wife
Thrall-like to lead a forest life.
No meet reward of fruit repays
Thy holy lore, thy saintlike days,
Thy tender soul, thy love of truth,
If woe like this afflicts thy youth.
Thou, roaming under forest boughs
With thy dear brother and thy spouse
Shalt richer meed of glory gain
Than if three worlds confessed thy reign.
Sad is our fate, O Ráma: we,
Abandoned and repelled by thee,
Must serve as thralls Kaikeyí's will,
Imperious, wicked, born to ill.”
Thus cried the faithful charioteer,
As Raghu's son, in rede his peer,
Was fast departing on his road,—
And long his tears of anguish flowed.
But Ráma, when those tears were dried
His lips with water purified,
And in soft accents, sweet and clear,
Again addressed the charioteer:
“I find no heart, my friend, like thine,
So faithful to Ikshváku's line.
Still first in view this object keep,
That ne'er for me my sire may weep.
For he, the world's far-ruling king,
Is old, and wild with sorrow's sting;
With love's great burthen worn and weak:
Deem this the cause that thus I speak
Whate'er the high-souled king decrees
His loved Kaikeyí's heart to please,
Yea, be his order what it may,
Without demur thou must obey,
For this alone great monarchs reign,
That ne'er a wish be formed in vain.
Then, O Sumantra, well provide
That by no check the king be tried:
Nor let his heart in sorrow pine:
This care, my faithful friend, be thine.
The honoured king my father greet,
And thus for me my words repeat
To him whose senses are controlled,
Untired till now by grief, and old;
“I, Sítá, Lakshmaṇ sorrow not,
O Monarch, for our altered lot:
The same to us, if here we roam,
Or if Ayodhyá be our home,
The fourteen years will quickly fly,
The happy hour will soon be nigh
When thou, my lord, again shalt see
Lakshmaṇ, the Maithil dame, and me.”
Thus having soothed, O charioteer,
My father and my mother dear,
Let all the queens my message learn,
But to Kaikeyí chiefly turn.
With loving blessings from the three,
From Lakshmaṇ, Sítá, and from me,
My mother, Queen Kauśalyá, greet
With reverence to her sacred feet.
And add this prayer of mine: “O King;
Send quickly forth and Bharat bring,
And set him on the royal throne
Which thy decree has made his own.
When he upon the throne is placed,
When thy fond arms are round him laced,
Thine aged heart will cease to ache
With bitter pangs for Ráma's sake.”
And say to Bharat: “See thou treat
The queens with all observance meet:
What care the king receives, the same
Show thou alike to every dame.
Obedience to thy father's will
Who chooses thee the throne to fill,
Will earn for thee a store of bliss
Both in the world to come and this.’ ”
Thus Ráma bade Sumantra go
With thoughtful care instructed so.
Sumantra all his message heard,
And spake again, by passion stirred:
“O, should deep feeling mar in aught
The speech by fond devotion taught,
Forgive whate'er I wildly speak:
My love is strong, my tongue is weak.
How shall I, if deprived of thee,
Return that mournful town to see:
Where sick at heart the people are
Because their Ráma roams afar.
Woe will be theirs too deep to brook
When on the empty car they look,
As when from hosts, whose chiefs are slain,
One charioteer comes home again.
This very day, I ween, is food
Forsworn by all the multitude,
Thinking that thou, with hosts to aid,
Art dwelling in the wild wood's shade.
The great despair, the shriek of woe
They uttered when they saw thee go,
Will, when I come with none beside,
A hundred-fold be multiplied.
How to Kauśalyá can I say:
“O Queen, I took thy son away,
And with thy brother left him well:
Weep not for him; thy woe dispel?”
So false a tale I cannot frame,
Yet how speak truth and grieve the dame?
How shall these horses, fleet and bold,
Whom not a hand but mine can hold,
Bear others, wont to whirl the car
Wherein Ikshváku's children are!
Without thee, Prince, I cannot, no,
I cannot to Ayodhyá go.
Then deign, O Ráma, to relent,
And let me share thy banishment.
But if no prayers can move thy heart,
If thou wilt quit me and depart,
The flames shall end my car and me,
Deserted thus and reft of thee.
In the wild wood when foes are near,
When dangers check thy vows austere,
Borne in my car will I attend,
All danger and all care to end.
For thy dear sake I love the skill
That guides the steed and curbs his will:
And soon a forest life will be
As pleasant, for my love of thee.
And if these horses near thee dwell,
And serve thee in the forest well,
They, for their service, will not miss
The due reward of highest bliss.
Thine orders, as with thee I stray,
Will I with heart and head obey,
Prepared, for thee, without a sigh,
To lose Ayodhyá or the sky.
As one defiled with hideous sin,
I never more can pass within
Ayodhyá, city of our king,
Unless beside me thee I bring.
One wish is mine, I ask no more,
That, when thy banishment is o'er
I in my car may bear my lord,
Triumphant, to his home restored.
The fourteen years, if spent with thee,
Will swift as light-winged moments flee;
But the same years, without thee told,
Were magnified a hundred-fold.
Do not, kind lord, thy servant leave,
Who to his master's son would cleave,
And the same path with him pursue,
Devoted, tender, just and true.”
Again, again Sumantra made
His varied plaint, and wept and prayed.
Him Raghu's son, whose tender breast
Felt for his servants, thus addressed:
“O faithful servant, well my heart
Knows how attached and true thou art.
Hear thou the words I speak, and know
Why to the town I bid thee go.
Soon as Kaikeyí, youngest queen,
Thy coming to the town has seen,
No doubt will then her mind oppress
That Ráma roams the wilderness.
And so the dame, her heart content
With proof of Ráma's banishment,
Will doubt the virtuous king no more
As faithless to the oath he swore.
Chief of my cares is this, that she,
Youngest amid the queens, may see
Bharat her son securely reign
O'er rich Ayodhyá's wide domain.
For mine and for the monarch's sake
Do thou thy journey homeward take,
And, as I bade, repeat each word
That from my lips thou here hast heard.”
Thus spake the prince, and strove to cheer
The sad heart of the charioteer,
And then to royal Guha said
These words most wise and spirited:
“Guha, dear friend, it is not meet
That people throng my calm retreat:
For I must live a strict recluse,
And mould my life by hermits' use.
I now the ancient rule accept
By good ascetics gladly kept.
I go: bring fig-tree juice that I
In matted coils my hair may tie.”
Quick Guha hastened to produce,
For the king's son, that sacred juice.
Then Ráma of his long locks made,
And Lakshmaṇ's too, the hermit braid.
And the two royal brothers there
With coats of bark and matted hair,
Transformed in lovely likeness stood
To hermit saints who love the wood.
So Ráma, with his brother bold,
A pious anchorite enrolled,
Obeyed the vow which hermits take,
And to his friend, King Guha, spake:
“May people, treasure, army share,
And fenced forts, thy constant care:
Attend to all: supremely hard
The sovereign's task, to watch and guard.”
Ikshváku's son, the good and brave,
This last farewell to Guha gave,
And then, with Lakshmaṇ and his bride,
Determined, on his way he hied.
Soon as he viewed, upon the shore,
The bark prepared to waft them o'er
Impetuous Gangá's rolling tide,
To Lakshmaṇ thus the chieftain cried:
“Brother, embark; thy hand extend,
Thy gentle aid to Sítá lend:
With care her trembling footsteps guide,
And place the lady by thy side.”
When Lakshmaṇ heard, prepared to aid,
His brother's words he swift obeyed.
Within the bark he placed the dame,
Then to her side the hero came.
Next Lakshmaṇ's elder brother, lord
Of brightest glory, when on board,
Breathing a prayer for blessings, meet
For priest or warrior to repeat,
Then he and car-borne Lakshmaṇ bent,
Well-pleased, their heads, most reverent,
Their hands, with Sítá, having dipped,
As Scripture bids, and water sipped,
Farewell to wise Sumantra said,
And Guha, with the train he led.
So Ráma took, on board, his stand,
And urged the vessel from the land.
Then swift by vigorous arms impelled
Her onward course the vessel held,
And guided by the helmsman through
The dashing waves of Gangá flew.
Half way across the flood they came,
When Sítá, free from spot and blame,
Her reverent hands together pressed,
The Goddess of the stream addressed:
“May the great chieftain here who springs
From Daśaratha, best of kings,
Protected by thy care, fulfil
His prudent father's royal will.
When in the forest he has spent
His fourteen years of banishment,
With his dear brother and with me
His home again my lord shall see.
Returning on that blissful day,
I will to thee mine offerings pay,
Dear Queen, whose waters gently flow,
Who canst all blessed gifts bestow.
For, three-pathed Queen, though wandering here,
Thy waves descend from Brahmá's sphere,
Spouse of the God o'er floods supreme,
Though rolling here thy glorious stream.
To thee, fair Queen, my head shall bend,
To thee shall hymns of praise ascend,
When my brave lord shall turn again,
And, joyful, o'er his kingdom reign.
To win thy grace, O Queen divine,
A hundred thousand fairest kine,
And precious robes and finest meal
Among the Bráhmans will I deal.
A hundred jars of wine shall flow,
When to my home, O Queen, I go;
With these, and flesh, and corn, and rice,
Will I, delighted, sacrifice.
Each hallowed spot, each holy shrine
That stands on these fair shores of thine,
Each fane and altar on thy banks
Shall share my offerings and thanks.
With me and Lakshmaṇ, free from harm,
May he the blameless, strong of arm,
Reseek Ayodhyá from the wild,
O blameless Lady undefiled!”
As, praying for her husband's sake,
The faultless dame to Gangá spake,
To the right bank the vessel flew
With her whose heart was right and true.
Soon as the bark had crossed the wave,
The lion leader of the brave,
Leaving the vessel on the strand,
With wife and brother leapt to land.
Then Ráma thus the prince addressed
Who filled with joy Sumitrá's breast:
“Be thine alike to guard and aid
In peopled spot, in lonely shade.
Do thou, Sumitrá's son, precede:
Let Sítá walk where thou shalt lead.
Behind you both my place shall be,
To guard the Maithil dame and thee.
For she, to woe a stranger yet,
No toil or grief till now has met;
The fair Videhan will assay
The pains of forest life to-day.
To-day her tender feet must tread
Rough rocky wilds around her spread:
No tilth is there, no gardens grow,
No crowding people come and go.”
The hero ceased: and Lakshmaṇ led
Obedient to the words he said:
And Sítá followed him, and then
Came Raghu's pride, the lord of men.
With Sítá walking o'er the sand
They sought the forest, bow in hand,
But still their lingering glances threw
Where yet Sumantra stood in view.
Sumantra, when his watchful eye
The royal youths no more could spy,
Turned from the spot whereon he stood
Homeward with Guha from the wood.
Still on the brothers forced their way
Where sweet birds sang on every spray,
Though scarce the eye a path could find
Mid flowering trees where creepers twined.
Far on the princely brothers pressed,
And stayed their feet at length to rest
Beneath a fig tree's mighty shade
With countless pendent shoots displayed.
Reclining there a while at ease,
They saw, not far, beneath fair trees
A lake with many a lotus bright
That bore the name of Lovely Sight.
Ráma his wife's attention drew,
And Lakshmaṇ's, to the charming view:
“Look, brother, look how fair the flood
Glows with the lotus, flower and bud!”
They drank the water fresh and clear,
And with their shafts they slew a deer.
A fire of boughs they made in haste,
And in the flame the meat they placed.
So Raghu's sons with Sítá shared
The hunter's meal their hands prepared,
Then counselled that the spreading tree
Their shelter and their home should be.

Canto LIII. Ráma's Lament.

When evening rites were duly paid,
Reclined beneath the leafy shade,
To Lakshmaṇ thus spake Ráma, best
Of those who glad a people's breast:
“Now the first night has closed the day
That saw us from our country stray,
And parted from the charioteer;
Yet grieve not thou, my brother dear.
Henceforth by night, when others sleep,
Must we our careful vigil keep,
Watching for Sítá's welfare thus,
For her dear life depends on us.
Bring me the leaves that lie around,
And spread them here upon the ground,
That we on lowly beds may lie,
And let in talk the night go by.”
So on the ground with leaves o'erspread,
He who should press a royal bed,
Ráma with Lakshmaṇ thus conversed,
And many a pleasant tale rehearsed:
“This night the king,” he cried, “alas!
In broken sleep will sadly pass.
Kaikeyí now content should be,
For mistress of her wish is she.
So fiercely she for empire yearns,
That when her Bharat home returns,
She in her greed, may even bring
Destruction on our lord the king.
What can he do, in feeble eld,
Reft of all aid and me expelled,
His soul enslaved by love, a thrall
Obedient to Kaikeyí's call?
As thus I muse upon his woe
And all his wisdoms overthrow,
Love is, methinks, of greater might
To stir the heart than gain and right.
For who, in wisdom's lore untaught,
Could by a beauty's prayer be bought
To quit his own obedient son,
Who loves him, as my sire has done!
Bharat, Kaikeyí's child, alone
Will, with his wife, enjoy the throne,
And blissfully his rule maintain
O'er happy Kośala's domain.
To Bharat's single lot will fall
The kingdom and the power and all,
When fails the king from length of days,
And Ráma in the forest strays.
Whoe'er, neglecting right and gain,
Lets conquering love his soul enchain,
To him, like Daśaratha's lot,
Comes woe with feet that tarry not.
Methinks at last the royal dame,
Dear Lakshmaṇ, has secured her aim,
To see at once her husband dead,
Her son enthroned, and Ráma fled.
Ah me! I fear, lest borne away
By frenzy of success, she slay
Kauśalyá, through her wicked hate
Of me, bereft, disconsolate;
Or her who aye for me has striven
Sumitrá, to devotion given.
Hence, Lakshmaṇ, to Ayodhyá speed,
Returning in the hour of need.
With Sítá I my steps will bend
Where Daṇḍak's mighty woods extend.
No guardian has Kauśalyá now:
O, be her friend and guardian thou.
Strong hate may vile Kaikeyí lead
To many a base unrighteous deed,
Treading my mother 'neath her feet
When Bharat holds the royal seat.
Sure in some antenatal time
Were children, by Kauśalyá's crime,
Torn from their mothers' arms away,
And hence she mourns this evil day.
She for her child no toil would spare
Tending me long with pain and care;
Now in the hour of fruitage she
Has lost that son, ah, woe is me.
O Lakshmaṇ, may no matron e'er
A son so doomed to sorrow bear
As I, my mother's heart who rend
With anguish that can never end.
The Sáriká,325 methinks, possessed
More love than glows in Ráma's breast.
Who, as the tale is told to us,
Addressed the stricken parrot thus:
“Parrot, the capturer's talons tear,
While yet alone thou flutterest there,
Before his mouth has closed on me:”
So cried the bird, herself to free.
Reft of her son, in childless woe,
My mother's tears for ever flow:
Ill-fated, doomed with grief to strive,
What aid can she from me derive?
Pressed down by care, she cannot rise
From sorrow's flood wherein she lies.
In righteous wrath my single arm
Could, with my bow, protect from harm
Ayodhyá's town and all the earth:
But what is hero prowess worth?
Lest breaking duty's law I sin,
And lose the heaven I strive to win,
The forest life today I choose,
And kingly state and power refuse.”
Thus mourning in that lonely spot
The troubled chief bewailed his lot,
And filled with tears, his eyes ran o'er;
Then silent sat, and spake no more.
To him, when ceased his loud lament,
Like fire whose brilliant might is spent,
Or the great sea when sleeps the wave,
Thus Lakshmaṇ consolation gave:
“Chief of the brave who bear the bow,
E'en now Ayodhyá, sunk in woe,
By thy departure reft of light
Is gloomy as the moonless night.
Unfit it seems that thou, O chief,
Shouldst so afflict thy soul with grief,
So with thou Sítá's heart consign
To deep despair as well as mine.
Not I, O Raghu's son, nor she
Could live one hour deprived of thee:
We were, without thine arm to save,
Like fish deserted by the wave.
Although my mother dear to meet,
Śatrughna, and the king, were sweet,
On them, or heaven, to feed mine eye
Were nothing, if thou wert not by.”
Sitting at ease, their glances fell
Upon the beds, constructed well,
And there the sons of virtue laid
Their limbs beneath the fig tree's shade.

Canto LIV. Bharadvája's Hermitage.

So there that night the heroes spent
Under the boughs that o'er them bent,
And when the sun his glory spread,
Upstarting, from the place they sped.
On to that spot they made their way,
Through the dense wood that round them lay,
Where Yamuná's326 swift waters glide
To blend with Gangá's holy tide.
Charmed with the prospect ever new
The glorious heroes wandered through
Full many a spot of pleasant ground,
Rejoicing as they gazed around,
With eager eye and heart at ease,
On countless sorts of flowery trees.
And now the day was half-way sped
When thus to Lakshmaṇ Ráma said:
“There, there, dear brother, turn thine eyes;
See near Prayág327 that smoke arise:
The banner of our Lord of Flames
The dwelling of some saint proclaims.
Near to the place our steps we bend
Where Yamuná and Gangá blend.
I hear and mark the deafening roar
When chafing floods together pour.
See, near us on the ground are left
Dry logs, by labouring woodmen cleft,
And the tall trees, that blossom near
Saint Bharadvája's home, appear.”
The bow-armed princes onward passed,
And as the sun was sinking fast
They reached the hermit's dwelling, set
Near where the rushing waters met.
The presence of the warrior scared
The deer and birds as on he fared,
And struck them with unwonted awe:
Then Bharadvája's cot they saw.
The high-souled hermit soon they found
Girt by his dear disciples round:
Calm saint, whose vows had well been wrought,
Whose fervent rites keen sight had bought.
Duly had flames of worship blazed
When Ráma on the hermit gazed:
His suppliant hands the hero raised,
Drew nearer to the holy man
With his companions, and began,
Declaring both his name and race
And why they sought that distant place:
“Saint, Daśaratha's children we,
Ráma and Lakshmaṇ, come to thee.
This my good wife from Janak springs,
The best of fair Videha's kings;
Through lonely wilds, a faultless dame,
To this pure grove with me she came.
My younger brother follows still
Me banished by my father's will:
Sumitrá's son, bound by a vow,—
He roams the wood beside me now.
Sent by my father forth to rove,
We seek, O Saint, some holy grove,
Where lives of hermits we may lead,
And upon fruits and berries feed.”
When Bharadvája, prudent-souled,
Had heard the prince his tale unfold,
Water he bade them bring, a bull,
And honour-gifts in dishes full,
And drink and food of varied taste,
Berries and roots, before him placed,
And then the great ascetic showed
A cottage for the guests' abode.
The saint these honours gladly paid
To Ráma who had thither strayed,
Then compassed sat by birds and deer
And many a hermit resting near.
The prince received the service kind,
And sat him down rejoiced in mind.
Then Bharadvája silence broke,
And thus the words of duty spoke:
“Kakutstha's royal son, that thou
Hadst sought this grove I knew ere now.
Mine ears have heard thy story, sent
Without a sin to banishment.
Behold, O Prince, this ample space
Near where the mingling floods embrace,
Holy, and beautiful, and clear:
Dwell with us, and be happy here.”
By Bharadvája thus addressed,
Ráma whose kind and tender breast
All living things would bless and save,
In gracious words his answer gave:
“My honoured lord, this tranquil spot,
Fair home of hermits, suits me not:
For all the neighbouring people here
Will seek us when they know me near:
With eager wish to look on me,
And the Videhan dame to see,
A crowd of rustics will intrude
Upon the holy solitude.
Provide, O gracious lord, I pray,
Some quiet home that lies away,
Where my Videhan spouse may dwell
Tasting the bliss deserved so well.”
The hermit heard the prayer he made:
A while in earnest thought he stayed,
And then in words like these expressed
His answer to the chief's request:
“Ten leagues away there stands a hill
Where thou mayst live, if such thy will:
A holy mount, exceeding fair;
Great saints have made their dwelling there:
There great Langúrs328 in thousands play,
And bears amid the thickets stray;
Wide-known by Chitrakúṭa's name,
It rivals Gandhamádan's329 fame.
Long as the man that hill who seeks
Gazes upon its sacred peaks,
To holy things his soul he gives
And pure from thought of evil lives.
There, while a hundred autumns fled,
Has many a saint with hoary head
Spent his pure life, and won the prize,
By deep devotion, in the skies:
Best home, I ween, if such retreat,
Far from the ways of men, be sweet:
Or let thy years of exile flee
Here in this hermitage with me.”
Thus Bharadvája spake, and trained
In lore of duty, entertained
The princes and the dame, and pressed
His friendly gifts on every guest.
Thus to Prayág the hero went,
Thus saw the saint preëminent,
And varied speeches heard and said:
Then holy night o'er heaven was spread.
And Ráma took, by toil oppressed,
With Sítá and his brother, rest;
And so the night, with sweet content,
In Bharadvája's grove was spent.
But when the dawn dispelled the night,
Ráma approached the anchorite,
And thus addressed the holy sire
Whose glory shone like kindled fire:
“Well have we spent, O truthful Sage,
The night within thy hermitage:
Now let my lord his guests permit
For their new home his grove to quit.”
Then, as he saw the morning break,
In answer Bharadvája spake:
“Go forth to Chitrakúṭa's hill,
Where berries grow, and sweets distil:
Full well, I deem, that home will suit
Thee, Ráma, strong and resolute.
Go forth, and Chitrakúṭa seek,
Famed mountain of the Varied Peak.
In the wild woods that gird him round
All creatures of the chase are found:
Thou in the glades shalt see appear
Vast herds of elephants and deer.
With Sítá there shalt thou delight
To gaze upon the woody height;
There with expanding heart to look
On river, table-land, and brook,
And see the foaming torrent rave
Impetuous from the mountain cave.
Auspicious hill! where all day long
The lapwing's cry, the Koïl's song
Make all who listen gay:
Where all is fresh and fair to see,
Where elephants and deer roam free,
There, as a hermit, stay.”

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