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Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto XXV. The Battle.

When Khara with the hosts he led
Drew near to Ráma's leafy shed,
He saw that queller of the foe
Stand ready with his ordered bow.
He saw, and burning at the view
His clanging bow he raised and drew,
And bade his driver urge apace
His car to meet him face to face.
Obedient to his master's hest
His eager steeds the driver pressed
On to the spot where, none to aid,
The strong-armed chief his weapon swayed.
Soon as the children of the night
Saw Khara rushing to the fight,
His lords with loud unearthly cry
Followed their chief and gathered nigh.
As in his car the leader rode
With all his lords around, he showed
Like the red planet fiery Mars
Surrounded by the lesser stars.
Then with a horrid yell that rent
The air, the giant chieftain sent
A thousand darts in rapid shower
On Ráma matchless in his power.
The rovers of the night, impelled
By fiery rage which naught withheld,
Upon the unconquered prince, who strained
His fearful bow, their arrows rained.
With sword and club, with mace and pike,
With spear and axe to pierce and strike,
Those furious fiends on every side
The unconquerable hero plied.
The giant legions huge and strong,
Like clouds the tempest drives along,
Rushed upon Ráma with the speed
Of whirling car, and mounted steed,
And hill-like elephant, to slay
The matchless prince in battle fray.
Then upon Ráma thick and fast
The rain of mortal steel they cast,
As labouring clouds their torrents shed
Upon the mountain-monarch's467 head.
As near and nearer round him drew
The warriors of the giant crew,
He showed like Śiva girt by all
His spirits when night's shadows fall.
As the great deep receives each rill
And river rushing from the hill,
He bore that flood of darts, and broke
With well-aimed shaft each murderous stroke.
By stress of arrowy storm assailed,
And wounded sore, he never failed,
Like some high mountain which defies
The red bolts flashing from the skies.
With ruddy streams each limb was dyed
From gaping wounds in breast and side,
Showing the hero like the sun
'Mid crimson clouds ere day is done.
Then, at that sight of terror, faint
Grew God, Gandharva, sage, and saint,
Trembling to see the prince oppose
His single might to myriad foes.
But waxing wroth, with force unspent,
He strained his bow to utmost bent,
And forth his arrows keen and true
In hundreds, yea in thousands flew,—
Shafts none could ward, and none endure:
Death's fatal noose was scarce so sure.
As 'twere in playful ease he shot
His gilded shafts, and rested not.
With swiftest flight and truest aim
Upon the giant hosts they came.
Each smote, each stayed a foeman's breath
As fatal as the coil of Death.
Each arrow through a giant tore
A passage, and besmeared with gore,
Pursued its onward way and through
The air with flamy brilliance flew.
Unnumbered were the arrows sent
From the great bow which Ráma bent,
And every shaft with iron head
The lifeblood of a giant shed.
Their pennoned bows were cleft, nor mail
Nor shield of hide could aught avail.
For Ráma's myriad arrows tore
Through arms, and bracelets which they wore,
And severed mighty warriors' thighs
Like trunks of elephants in size,
And cut resistless passage sheer
Through gold-decked horse and charioteer,
Slew elephant and rider, slew
The horseman and the charger too,
And infantry unnumbered sent
To dwell 'neath Yáma's government.
Then rose on high a fearful yell
Of rovers of the night, who fell
Beneath that iron torrent, sore
Wounded by shafts that rent and tore.
So mangled by the ceaseless storm
Of shafts of every kind and form,
Such joy they found, as forests feel
When scorched by flame, from Ráma's steel.
The mightiest still the fight maintained,
And furious upon Ráma rained
Dart, arrow, spear, with wild attacks
Of mace, and club, and battle-axe.
But the great chief, unconquered yet,
Their weapons with his arrows met,
Which severed many a giant's head,
And all the plain with corpses spread.
With sundered bow and shattered shield
Headless they sank upon the field,
As the tall trees, that felt the blast
Of Garuḍ's wing, to earth were cast.
The giants left unslaughtered there
Where filled with terror and despair,
And to their leader Khara fled
Faint, wounded, and discomfited.
These fiery Dúshaṇ strove to cheer,
And poised his bow to calm their fear;
Then fierce as He who rules the dead,
When wroth, on angered Ráma sped.
By Dúshaṇ cheered, the demons cast
Their dread aside and rallied fast
With Sáls, rocks, palm-trees in their hands
With nooses, maces, pikes, and brands,
Again upon the godlike man
The mighty fiends infuriate ran,
These casting rocks like hail, and these
A whelming shower of leafy trees.
Wild, wondrous fight, the eye to scare,
And raise on end each shuddering hair,
As with the fiends who loved to rove
By night heroic Ráma strove!
The giants in their fury plied
Ráma with darts on every side.
Then, by the gathering demons pressed
From north and south and east and west,
By showers of deadly darts assailed
From every quarter fiercely hailed,
Girt by the foes who swarmed around,
He raised a mighty shout whose sound
Struck terror. On the giant crew
His great Gandharva468 arrow flew.
A thousand mortal shafts were rained
From the orbed bow the hero strained,
Till east and west and south and north
Were filled with arrows volleyed forth.
They heard the fearful shout: they saw
His mighty hand the bowstring draw,
Yet could no wounded giant's eye
See the swift storm of arrows fly.
Still firm the warrior stood and cast
His deadly missiles thick and fast.
Dark grew the air with arrowy hail
Which hid the sun as with a veil.
Fiends wounded, falling, fallen, slain,
All in a moment, spread the plain,
And thousands scarce alive were left
Mangled, and gashed, and torn, and cleft.
Dire was the sight, the plain o'erspread
With trophies of the mangled dead.
There lay, by Ráma's missiles rent,
Full many a priceless ornament,
With severed limb and broken gem,
Hauberk and helm and diadem.
There lay the shattered car, the steed,
The elephant of noblest breed,
The splintered spear, the shivered mace,
Chouris and screens to shade the face.
The giants saw with bitterest pain
Their warriors weltering on the plain,
Nor dared again his might oppose
Who scourged the cities of his foes.

Canto XXVI. Dúshan's Death.

When Dúshaṇ saw his giant band
Slaughtered by Ráma's conquering hand,
He called five thousand fiends, and gave
His orders. Bravest of the brave,
Invincible, of furious might,
Ne'er had they turned their backs in flight.
They, as their leader bade them seize
Spears, swords, and clubs, and rocks, and trees,
Poured on the dauntless prince again
A ceaseless shower of deadly rain.
The virtuous Ráma, undismayed,
Their missiles with his arrows stayed,
And weakened, ere it fell, the shock
Of that dire hail of tree and rock,
And like a bull with eyelids closed,
The pelting of the storm opposed.
Then blazed his ire: he longed to smite
To earth the rovers of the night.
The wrath that o'er his spirit came
Clothed him with splendour as of flame,
While showers of mortal darts he poured
Fierce on the giants and their lord.
Dúshaṇ, the foeman's dusky dread,
By frenzied rage inspirited,
On Raghu's son his missiles cast
Like Indra's bolts which rend and blast.
But Ráma with a trenchant dart
Cleft Dúshaṇ's ponderous bow apart.
And then the gold-decked steeds who drew
The chariot, with four shafts he slew.
One crescent dart he aimed which shred
Clean from his neck the driver's head;
Three more with deadly skill addressed
Stood quivering in the giant's breast.
Hurled from his car, steeds, driver slain,
The bow he trusted cleft in twain,
He seized his mace, strong, heavy, dread,
High as a mountain's towering head.
With plates of gold adorned and bound,
Embattled Gods it crushed and ground.
Its iron spikes yet bore the stains
Of mangled foemen's blood and brains.
Its heavy mass of jagged steel
Was like a thunderbolt to feel.
It shattered, as on foes it fell,
The city where the senses dwell.469
Fierce Dúshaṇ seized that ponderous mace
Like monstrous form of serpent race,
And all his savage soul aglow
With fury, rushed upon the foe.
But Raghu's son took steady aim,
And as the rushing giant came,
Shore with two shafts the arms whereon
The demon's glittering bracelets shone.
His arm at each huge shoulder lopped,
The mighty body reeled and dropped,
And the great mace to earth was thrown
Like Indra's staff when storms have blown.
As some vast elephant who lies
Shorn of his tusks, and bleeding dies,
So, when his arms were rent away,
Low on the ground the giant lay.
The spirits saw the monster die,
And loudly rang their joyful cry,
“Honour to Ráma! nobly done!
Well hast thou fought, Kakutstha's son!”
But the great three, the host who led,
Enraged to see their chieftain dead,
As though Death's toils were round them cast,
Rushed upon Ráma fierce and fast,
Mahákapála seized, to strike
His foeman down, a ponderous pike:
Sthúláksha charged with spear to fling,
Pramáthi with his axe to swing.
When Ráma saw, with keen darts he
Received the onset of the three,
As calm as though he hailed a guest
In each, who came for shade and rest.
Mahákapála's monstrous head
Fell with the trenchant dart he sped.
His good right hand in battle skilled
Sthúláksha's eyes with arrows filled,
And trusting still his ready bow
He laid the fierce Pramáthi low,
Who sank as some tall tree falls down
With bough and branch and leafy crown.
Then with five thousand shafts he slew
The rest of Dúshaṇ's giant crew:
Five thousand demons, torn and rent,
To Yáma's gloomy realm he sent.
When Khara knew the fate of all
The giant band and Dúshaṇ's fall,
He called the mighty chiefs who led
His army, and in fury said:
“Now Dúshaṇ and his armèd train
Lie prostrate on the battle plain.
Lead forth an army mightier still,
Ráma this wretched man, to kill.
Fight ye with darts of every shape,
Nor let him from your wrath escape.”
Thus spoke the fiend, by rage impelled,
And straight his course toward Ráma held.
With Śyenagámí and the rest
Of his twelve chiefs he onward pressed,
And every giant as he went
A storm of well-wrought arrows sent.
Then with his pointed shafts that came
With gold and diamond bright as flame,
Dead to the earth the hero threw
The remnant of the demon crew.
Those shafts with feathers bright as gold,
Like flames which wreaths of smoke enfold,
Smote down the fiends like tall trees rent
By red bolts from the firmament.
A hundred shafts he pointed well:
By their keen barbs a hundred fell:
A thousand,—and a thousand more
In battle's front lay drenched in gore.
Of all defence and guard bereft,
With sundered bows and harness cleft.
Their bodies red with bloody stain
Fell the night-rovers on the plain,
Which, covered with the loosened hair
Of bleeding giants prostrate there,
Like some great altar showed, arrayed
For holy rites with grass o'erlaid.
The darksome wood, each glade and dell
Where the wild demons fought and fell
Was like an awful hell whose floor
Is thick with mire and flesh and gore.
Thus twice seven thousand fiends, a band
With impious heart and bloody hand,
By Raghu's son were overthrown,
A man, on foot, and all alone.
Of all who met on that fierce day,
Khara, great chief, survived the fray,
The monster of the triple head,470
And Raghu's son, the foeman's dread.
The other demon warriors, all
Skilful and brave and strong and tall,
In front of battle, side by side,
Struck down by Lakshmaṇ's brother died.
When Khara saw the host he led
Triumphant forth to fight
Stretched on the earth, all smitten dead,
By Ráma's nobler might,
Upon his foe he fiercely glared,
And drove against him fast,
Like Indra when his arm is bared
His thundering bolt to cast.

Canto XXVII. The Death Of Trisirás.

But Triśirás,471 a chieftain dread,
Marked Khara as he onward sped.
And met his car and cried, to stay
The giant from the purposed fray:
“Mine be the charge: let me attack,
And turn thee from the contest back.
Let me go forth, and thou shalt see
The strong-armed Ráma slain by me.
True are the words I speak, my lord:
I swear it as I touch my sword:
That I this Ráma's blood will spill,
Whom every giant's hand should kill.
This Ráma will I slay, or he
In battle fray shall conquer me.
Restrain thy spirit: check thy car,
And view the combat from afar.
Thou, joying o'er the prostrate foe,
To Janasthán again shalt go,
Or, if I fall in battle's chance,
Against my conqueror advance.”
Thus Triśirás for death who yearned:
And Khara from the conflict turned,
“Go forth to battle,” Khara cried;
And toward his foe the giant hied.
Borne on a car of glittering hue
Which harnessed coursers fleetly drew,
Like some huge hill with triple peak
He onward rushed the prince to seek.
Still, like a big cloud, sending out
His arrowy rain with many a shout
Like the deep sullen roars that come
Discordant from a moistened drum.
But Raghu's son, whose watchful eye
Beheld the demon rushing nigh,
From the great bow he raised and bent
A shower of shafts to meet him sent.
Wild grew the fight and wilder yet
As fiend and man in combat met,
As when in some dark wood's retreat
An elephant and a lion meet.
The giant bent his bow, and true
To Ráma's brow three arrows flew.
Then, raging as he felt the stroke,
These words in anger Ráma spoke:
“Heroic chief! is such the power
Of fiends who rove at midnight hour?
Soft as the touch of flowers I feel
The gentle blows thine arrows deal.
Receive in turn my shafts, and know
What arrows fly from Ráma's bow.”
Thus as he spoke his wrath grew hot,
And twice seven deadly shafts he shot,
Which, dire as serpent's deadly fang,
Straight to the giant's bosom sprang.
Four arrows more,—each shaped to deal
A mortal wound with barbèd steel,—
The glorious hero shot, and slew
The four good steeds the car that drew.
Eight other shafts flew straight and fleet,
And hurled the driver from his seat,
And in the dust the banner laid
That proudly o'er the chariot played.
Then as the fiend prepared to bound
Forth from his useless car to ground,
The hero smote him to the heart,
And numbed his arm with deadly smart.
Again the chieftain, peerless-souled,
Sent forth three rapid darts, and rolled
With each keen arrow, deftly sped,
Low in the dust a monstrous head.
Then yielding to each deadly stroke,
Forth spouting streams of blood and smoke,
The headless trunk bedrenched with gore
Fell to the ground and moved no more.
The fiends who yet were left with life,
Routed and crushed in battle strife,
To Khara's side, like trembling deer
Scared by the hunter, fled in fear.
King Khara saw with furious eye
His scattered giants turn and fly;
Then rallying his broken train
At Raghu's son he drove amain,
Like Ráhu472 when his deadly might
Comes rushing on the Lord of Night.

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