Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto IV. Virádha's Death.

But Sítá viewed with wild affright
The heroes hurried from her sight.
She tossed her shapely arms on high,
And shrieked aloud her bitter cry:
“Ah, the dread giant bears away
The princely Ráma as his prey,
Truthful and pure, and good and great,
And Lakshmaṇ shares his brother's fate.
The brindled tiger and the bear
My mangled limbs for food will tear.
Take me, O best of giants, me,
And leave the sons of Raghu free.”
Then, by avenging fury spurred,
Her mournful cry the heroes heard,
And hastened, for the lady's sake,
The wicked monster's life to take.
Then Lakshmaṇ with resistless stroke
The foe's left arm that held him broke,
And Ráma too, as swift to smite,
Smashed with his heavy hand the right.
With broken arms and tortured frame
To earth the fainting giant came,
Like a huge cloud, or mighty rock
Rent, sundered by the levin's shock.
Then rushed they on, and crushed and beat
Their foe with arms and fists and feet,
And nerved each mighty limb to pound
And bray him on the level ground.
Keen arrows and each biting blade
Wide rents in breast and side had made;
But crushed and torn and mangled, still
The monster lived they could not kill.
When Ráma saw no arms might slay
The fiend who like a mountain lay,
The glorious hero, swift to save
In danger, thus his counsel gave:
“O Prince of men, his charmed life
No arms may take in battle strife:
Now dig we in this grove a pit
His elephantine bulk to fit,
And let the hollowed earth enfold
The monster of gigantic mould.”
This said, the son of Raghu pressed
His foot upon the giant's breast.
With joy the prostrate monster heard
Victorious Ráma's welcome word,
And straight Kakutstha's son, the best
Of men, in words like these addressed:
“I yield, O chieftain, overthrown
By might that vies with Indra's own.
Till now my folly-blinded eyes
Thee, hero, failed to recognize.
Happy Kauśalyá! blest to be
The mother of a son like thee!
I know thee well, O chieftain, now:
Ráma, the prince of men, art thou.
There stands the high-born Maithil dame,
There Lakshmaṇ, lord of mighty fame.
My name was Tumburu,408 for song
Renowned among the minstrel throng:
Cursed by Kuvera's stern decree
I wear the hideous shape you see.
But when I sued, his grace to crave,
The glorious God this answer gave:
“When Ráma, Daśaratha's son,
Destroys thee and the fight is won,
Thy proper shape once more assume,
And heaven again shall give thee room.”
When thus the angry God replied,
No prayers could turn his wrath aside,
And thus on me his fury fell
For loving Rambhá's409 charms too well.
Now through thy favour am I freed
From the stern fate the God decreed,
And saved, O tamer of the foe,
By thee, to heaven again shall go.
A league, O Prince, beyond this spot
Stands holy Śarabhanga's cot:
The very sun is not more bright
Than that most glorious anchorite:
To him, O Ráma, quickly turn,
And blessings from the hermit earn.
First under earth my body throw,
Then on thy way rejoicing go.
Such is the law ordained of old
For giants when their days are told:
Their bodies laid in earth, they rise
To homes eternal in the skies.”
Thus, by the rankling dart oppressed,
Kakutstha's offspring he addressed:
In earth his mighty body lay,
His spirit fled to heaven away.
Thus spake Virádha ere he died;
And Ráma to his brother cried:
“Now dig we in this grove a pit
His elephantine bulk to fit.
And let the hollowed earth enfold
This mighty giant fierce and bold.”
This said, the valiant hero put
Upon the giant's neck his foot.
His spade obedient Lakshmaṇ plied,
And dug a pit both deep and wide
By lofty souled Virádha's side.
Then Raghu's son his foot withdrew,
And down the mighty form they threw;
One awful shout of joy he gave
And sank into the open grave.
The heroes, to their purpose true,
In fight the cruel demon slew,
And radiant with delight
Deep in the hollowed earth they cast
The monster roaring to the last,
In their resistless might.
Thus when they saw the warrior's steel
No life-destroying blow might deal,
The pair, for lore renowned,
Deep in the pit their hands had made
The unresisting giant laid,
And killed him neath the ground.
Upon himself the monster brought
From Ráma's hand the death he sought
With strong desire to gain:
And thus the rover of the night
Told Ráma, as they strove in fight,
That swords might rend and arrows smite
Upon his breast in vain.
Thus Ráma, when his speech he heard,
The giant's mighty form interred,
Which mortal arms defied.
With thundering crash the giant fell,
And rock and cave and forest dell
With echoing roar replied.
The princes, when their task was done
And freedom from the peril won,
Rejoiced to see him die.
Then in the boundless wood they strayed,
Like the great sun and moon displayed
Triumphant in the sky.410

Canto V. Sarabhanga.

Then Ráma, having slain in fight
Virádha of terrific might,
With gentle words his spouse consoled,
And clasped her in his loving hold.
Then to his brother nobly brave
The valiant prince his counsel gave:
“Wild are these woods around us spread;
And hard and rough the ground to tread:
We, O my brother, ne'er have viewed
So dark and drear a solitude:
To Śarabhanga let us haste,
Whom wealth of holy works has graced.”
Thus Ráma spoke, and took the road
To Śarabhanga's pure abode.
But near that saint whose lustre vied
With Gods, by penance purified,
With startled eyes the prince beheld
A wondrous sight unparalleled.
In splendour like the fire and sun
He saw a great and glorious one.
Upon a noble car he rode,
And many a God behind him glowed:
And earth beneath his feet unpressed411
The monarch of the skies confessed.
Ablaze with gems, no dust might dim
The bright attire that covered him.
Arrayed like him, on every side
High saints their master glorified.
Near, borne in air, appeared in view
His car which tawny coursers drew,
Like silver cloud, the moon, or sun
Ere yet the day is well begun.
Wreathed with gay garlands, o'er his head
A pure white canopy was spread,
And lovely nymphs stood nigh to hold
Fair chouris with their sticks of gold,
Which, waving in each gentle hand,
The forehead of their monarch fanned.
God, saint, and bard, a radiant ring,
Sang glory to their heavenly King:
Forth into joyful lauds they burst
As Indra with the sage conversed.
Then Ráma, when his wondering eyes
Beheld the monarch of the skies,
To Lakshmaṇ quickly called, and showed
The car wherein Lord Indra rode:
“See, brother, see that air-borne car,
Whose wondrous glory shines afar:
Wherefrom so bright a lustre streams
That like a falling sun it seems:
These are the steeds whose fame we know,
Of heavenly race through heaven they go:
These are the steeds who bear the yoke
Of Śakra,412 Him whom all invoke.
Behold these youths, a glorious band,
Toward every wind a hundred stand:
A sword in each right hand is borne,
And rings of gold their arms adorn.
What might in every broad deep chest
And club-like arm is manifest!
Clothed in attire of crimson hue
They show like tigers fierce to view.
Great chains of gold each warder deck,
Gleaming like fire beneath his neck.
The age of each fair youth appears
Some score and five of human years:
The ever-blooming prime which they
Who live in heaven retain for aye:
Such mien these lordly beings wear,
Heroic youths, most bright and fair.
Now, brother, in this spot, I pray,
With the Videhan lady stay,
Till I have certain knowledge who
This being is, so bright to view.”
He spoke, and turning from the spot
Sought Śarabhanga's hermit cot.
But when the lord of Śachí413 saw
The son of Raghu near him draw,
He hastened of the sage to take
His leave, and to his followers spake:
“See, Ráma bends his steps this way,
But ere he yet a word can say,
Come, fly to our celestial sphere;
It is not meet he see me here.
Soon victor and triumphant he
In fitter time shall look on me.
Before him still a great emprise,
A task too hard for others, lies.”
Then with all marks of honour high
The Thunderer bade the saint good-bye,
And in his car which coursers drew
Away to heaven the conqueror flew.
Then Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, and the dame,
To Śarabhanga nearer came,
Who sat beside the holy flame.
Before the ancient sage they bent,
And clasped his feet most reverent;
Then at his invitation found
A seat beside him on the ground.
Then Ráma prayed the sage would deign
Lord Indra's visit to explain;
And thus at length the holy man
In answer to his prayer began:
“This Lord of boons has sought me here
To waft me hence to Brahmá's sphere,
Won by my penance long and stern,—
A home the lawless ne'er can earn.
But when I knew that thou wast nigh,
To Brahmá's world I could not fly
Until these longing eyes were blest
With seeing thee, mine honoured guest.
Since thou, O Prince, hast cheered my sight,
Great-hearted lover of the right,
To heavenly spheres will I repair
And bliss supreme that waits me there.
For I have won, dear Prince, my way
To those fair worlds which ne'er decay,
Celestial seat of Brahmá's reign:
Be thine, with me, those worlds to gain.”
Then master of all sacred lore,
Spake Ráma to the saint once more:
“I, even I, illustrious sage,
Will make those worlds mine heritage:
But now, I pray, some home assign
Within this holy grove of thine.”
Thus Ráma, Indra's peer in might,
Addressed the aged anchorite:
And he, with wisdom well endued,
To Raghu's son his speech renewed:
“Sutíkshṇa's woodland home is near,
A glorious saint of life austere,
True to the path of duty; he
With highest bliss will prosper thee.
Against the stream thy course must be
Of this fair brook Mandákiní,
Whereon light rafts like blossoms glide;
Then to his cottage turn aside.
There lies thy path: but ere thou go,
Look on me, dear one, till I throw
Aside this mould that girds me in,
As casts the snake his withered skin.”
He spoke, the fire in order laid
With holy oil due offerings made,
And Śarabhanga, glorious sire,
Laid down his body in the fire.
Then rose the flame above his head,
On skin, blood, flesh, and bones it fed,
Till forth, transformed, with radiant hue
Of tender youth, he rose anew,
Far-shining in his bright attire
Came Śarabhanga from the pyre:
Above the home of saints, and those
Who feed the quenchless flame,414 he rose:
Beyond the seat of Gods he passed,
And Brahmá's sphere was gained at last.
The noblest of the twice-born race,
For holy works supreme in place,
The Mighty Father there beheld
Girt round by hosts unparalleled;
And Brahmá joying at the sight
Welcomed the glorious anchorite.

Canto VI. Ráma's Promise.

When he his heavenly home had found,
The holy men who dwelt around
To Ráma flocked, whose martial fame
Shone glorious as the kindled flame:
Vaikhánasas415 who love the wild,
Pure hermits Bálakhilyas416 styled,
Good Samprakshálas,417 saints who live
On rays which moon and daystar give:
Those who with leaves their lives sustain
And those who pound with stones their grain:
And they who lie in pools, and those
Whose corn, save teeth, no winnow knows:
Those who for beds the cold earth use,
And those who every couch refuse:
And those condemned to ceaseless pains,
Whose single foot their weight sustains:
And those who sleep neath open skies,
Whose food the wave or air supplies,
And hermits pure who spend their nights
On ground prepared for sacred rites;
Those who on hills their vigil hold,
Or dripping clothes around them fold:
The devotees who live for prayer,
Or the five fires418 unflinching bear.
On contemplation all intent,
With light that heavenly knowledge lent,
They came to Ráma, saint and sage,
In Śarabhanga's hermitage.
The hermit crowd around him pressed,
And thus the virtuous chief addressed:
“The lordship of the earth is thine,
O Prince of old Ikshváku's line.
Lord of the Gods is Indra, so
Thou art our lord and guide below.
Thy name, the glory of thy might,
Throughout the triple world are bright:
Thy filial love so nobly shown,
Thy truth and virtue well are known.
To thee, O lord, for help we fly,
And on thy love of right rely:
With kindly patience hear us speak,
And grant the boon we humbly seek.
That lord of earth were most unjust,
Foul traitor to his solemn trust,
Who should a sixth of all419 require,
Nor guard his people like a sire.
But he who ever watchful strives
To guard his subjects' wealth and lives,
Dear as himself or, dearer still,
His sons, with earnest heart and will,—
That king, O Raghu's son, secures
High fame that endless years endures,
And he to Brahmá's world shall rise,
Made glorious in the eternal skies.
Whate'er, by duty won, the meed
Of saints whom roots and berries feed,
One fourth thereof, for tender care
Of subjects, is the monarch's share.
These, mostly of the Bráhman race,
Who make the wood their dwelling-place,
Although a friend in thee they view,
Fall friendless neath the giant crew.
Come, Ráma, come, and see hard by
The holy hermits' corpses lie,
Where many a tangled pathway shows
The murderous work of cruel foes.
These wicked fiends the hermits kill—
Who live on Chitrakúṭa's hill,
And blood of slaughtered saints has dyed
Mandákiní and Pampá's side.
No longer can we bear to see
The death of saint and devotee
Whom through the forest day by day
These Rákshasas unpitying slay.
To thee, O Prince, we flee, and crave
Thy guardian help our lives to save.
From these fierce rovers of the night
Defend each stricken anchorite.
Throughout the world 'twere vain to seek
An arm like thine to aid the weak.
O Prince, we pray thee hear our call,
And from these fiends preserve us all.”
The son of Raghu heard the plaint
Of penance-loving sage and saint,
And the good prince his speech renewed
To all the hermit multitude:
“To me, O saints, ye need not sue:
I wait the hests of all of you.
I by mine own occasion led
This mighty forest needs must tread,
And while I keep my sire's decree
Your lives from threatening foes will free.
I hither came of free accord
To lend the aid by you implored,
And richest meed my toil shall pay,
While here in forest shades I stay.
I long in battle strife to close.
And slay these fiends, the hermits' foes,
That saint and sage may learn aright
My prowess and my brother's might.”
Thus to the saints his promise gave
That prince who still to virtue clave
With never-wandering thought:
And then with Lakshmaṇ by his side,
With penance-wealthy men to guide,
Sutíkshṇa's home he sought.

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