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Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto XXVIII. Khara Dismounted.

But when he turned his eye where bled
Both Triśirás and Dúshaṇ dead,
Fear o'er the giant's spirit came
Of Ráma's might which naught could tame.
He saw his savage legions, those
Whose force no creature dared oppose,—
He saw the leader of his train
By Ráma's single prowess slain.
With burning grief he marked the few
Still left him of his giant crew.
As Namuchi473 on Indra, so
Rushed the dread demon on his foe.
His mighty bow the monster strained,
And angrily on Ráma rained
His mortal arrows in a flood,
Like serpent fangs athirst for blood.
Skilled in the bowman's warlike art,
He plied the string and poised the dart.
Here, on his car, and there, he rode,
And passages of battle showed,
While all the skyey regions grew
Dark with his arrows as they flew.
Then Ráma seized his ponderous bow,
And straight the heaven was all aglow
With shafts whose stroke no life might bear
That filled with flash and flame the air,
Thick as the blinding torrents sent
Down from Parjanya's474 firmament.
In space itself no space remained,
But all was filled with arrows rained
Incessantly from each great bow
Wielded by Ráma and his foe.
As thus in furious combat, wrought
To mortal hate, the warriors fought,
The sun himself grew faint and pale,
Obscured behind that arrowy veil.
As when beneath the driver's steel
An elephant is forced to kneel,
So from the hard and pointed head
Of many an arrow Ráma bled.
High on his car the giant rose
Prepared in deadly strife to close,
And all the spirits saw him stand
Like Yáma with his noose in hand.
For Khara deemed in senseless pride
That he, beneath whose hand had died
The giant legions, failed at length
Slow sinking with exhausted strength.
But Ráma, like a lion, when
A trembling deer comes nigh his den,
Feared not the demon mad with hate,—
Of lion might and lion gait.
Then in his lofty car that glowed
With sunlike brilliance Khara rode
At Ráma: madly on he came
Like a poor moth that seeks the flame.
His archer skill the fiend displayed,
And at the place where Ráma laid
His hand, an arrow cleft in two
The mighty bow the hero drew.
Seven arrows by the giant sent,
Bright as the bolts of Indra, rent
Their way through mail and harness joints,
And pierced him with their iron points.
On Ráma, hero unsurpassed,
A thousand shafts smote thick and fast,
While as each missile struck, rang out
The giant's awful battle-shout.
His knotted arrows pierced and tore
The sunbright mail the hero wore,
Till, band and buckle rent away,
Glittering on the ground it lay.
Then pierced in shoulder, breast, and side,
Till every limb with blood was dyed,
The chieftain in majestic ire
Shone glorious as the smokeless fire.
Then loud and long the war-cry rose
Of Ráma, terror of his foes,
As, on the giant's death intent,
A ponderous bow he strung and bent,—
Lord Vishṇu's own, of wondrous size,—
Agastya gave the heavenly prize.
Then rushing on the demon foe,
He raised on high that mighty bow,
And with his well-wrought shafts, whereon
Bright gold between the feathers shone,
He struck the pennon fluttering o'er
The chariot, and it waved no more.
That glorious flag whose every fold
Was rich with blazonry and gold,
Fell as the sun himself by all
The Gods' decree might earthward fall.
From wrathful Khara's hand, whose art
Well knew each vulnerable part,
Four keenly-piercing arrows flew,
And blood in Ráma's bosom drew,
With every limb distained with gore
From deadly shafts which rent and tore,
From Khara's clanging bowstring shots,
The prince's wrath waxed wondrous hot.
His hand upon his bow that best
Of mighty archers firmly pressed,
And from the well-drawn bowstring, true
Each to its mark, six arrows flew.
One quivered in the giant's head,
With two his brawny shoulders bled;
Three, with the crescent heads they bore,
Deep in his breast a passage tore.
Thirteen, to which the stone had lent
The keenest point, were swiftly sent
On the fierce giant, every one
Destructive, gleaming like the sun.
With four the dappled steeds he slew;
One cleft the chariot yoke in two,
One, in the heat of battle sped,
Smote from the neck the driver's head.
The poles were rent apart by three;
Two broke the splintered axle-tree.
Then from the hand of Ráma, while
Across his lips there came a smile,
The twelfth, like thunderbolt impelled,
Cut the great hand and bow it held.
Then, scarce by Indra's self surpassed,
He pierced the giant with the last.
The bow he trusted cleft in twain,
His driver and his horses slain,
Down sprang the giant, mace in hand,
On foot against the foe to stand.
The Gods and saints in bright array
Close gathered in the skies,
The prince's might in battle-fray
Beheld with joyful eyes.
Uprising from their golden seats,
Their hands in honour raised,
They looked on Ráma's noble feats,
And blessed him as they praised.

Canto XXIX. Khara's Defeat.

When Ráma saw the giant nigh,
On foot, alone, with mace reared high,
In mild reproof at first he spoke,
Then forth his threatening anger broke:
“Thou with the host 'twas thine to lead,
With elephant and car and steed,
Hast wrought an act of sin and shame,
An act which all who live must blame.
Know that the wretch whose evil mind
Joys in the grief of human kind,
Though the three worlds confess him lord,
Must perish dreaded and abhorred.
Night-rover, when a villain's deeds
Distress the world he little heeds,
Each hand is armed his life to take,
And crush him like a deadly snake.
The end is near when men begin
Through greed or lust a life of sin,
E'en as a Bráhman's dame, unwise,
Eats of the fallen hail475 and dies.
Thy hand has slain the pure and good,
The hermit saints of Daṇḍak wood,
Of holy life, the heirs of bliss;
And thou shalt reap the fruit of this.
Not long shall they whose cruel breasts
Joy in the sin the world detests
Retain their guilty power and pride,
But fade like trees whose roots are dried.
Yes, as the seasons come and go,
Each tree its kindly fruit must show,
And sinners reap in fitting time
The harvest of each earlier crime.
As those must surely die who eat
Unwittingly of poisoned meat,
They too whose lives in sin are spent
Receive ere long the punishment.
And know, thou rover of the night,
That I, a king, am sent to smite
The wicked down, who court the hate
Of men whose laws they violate.
This day my vengeful hand shall send
Shafts bright with gold to tear and rend,
And pass with fury through thy breast
As serpents pierce an emmet's nest.
Thou with thy host this day shalt be
Among the dead below, and see
The saints beneath thy hand who bled,
Whose flesh thy cruel maw has fed.
They, glorious on their seats of gold,
Their slayer shall in hell behold.
Fight with all strength thou callest thine,
Mean scion of ignoble line,
Still, like the palm-tree's fruit, this day
My shafts thy head in dust shall lay.”
Such were the words that Ráma said:
Then Khara's eyes with wrath glowed red,
Who, maddened by the rage that burned
Within him, with a smile returned:
“Thou Daśaratha's son, hast slain
The meaner giants of my train:
And canst thou idly vaunt thy might
And claim the praise not thine by right?
Not thus in self-laudation rave
The truly great, the nobly brave:
No empty boasts like thine disgrace
The foremost of the human race.
The mean of soul, unknown to fame,
Who taint their warrior race with shame,
Thus speak in senseless pride as thou,
O Raghu's son, hast boasted now.
What hero, when the war-cry rings,
Vaunts the high race from which he springs,
Or seeks, when warriors meet and die,
His own descent to glorify?
Weakness and folly show confessed
In every vaunt thou utterest,
As when the flames fed high with grass
Detect the simulating brass.
Dost thou not see me standing here
Armed with the mighty mace I rear,
Firm as an earth upholding hill
Whose summit veins of metal fill?
Lo, here I stand before thy face
To slay thee with my murderous mace,
As Death, the universal lord,
Stands threatening with his fatal cord.
Enough of this. Much more remains
That should be said: but time constrains.
Ere to his rest the sun descend,
And shades of night the combat end,
The twice seven thousand of my band
Who fell beneath thy bloody hand
Shall have their tears all wiped away
And triumph in thy fall to-day.”
He spoke, and loosing from his hold
His mighty mace ringed round with gold,
Like some red bolt alive with fire
Hurled it at Ráma, mad with ire.
The ponderous mace which Khara threw
Sent fiery flashes as it flew.
Trees, shrubs were scorched beneath the blast,
As onward to its aim it passed.
But Ráma, watching as it sped
Dire as His noose who rules the dead,
Cleft it with arrows as it came
On rushing with a hiss and flame.
Its fury spent and burnt away,
Harmless upon the ground it lay
Like a great snake in furious mood
By herbs of numbing power subdued.

Canto XXX. Khara's Death.

When Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,
Virtue's dear son, had cleft the mace,
Thus with superior smile the best
Of chiefs the furious fiend addressed:
“Thou, worst of giant blood, at length
Hast shown the utmost of thy strength,
And forced by greater might to bow,
Thy vaunting threats are idle now.
My shafts have cut thy club in twain:
Useless it lies upon the plain,
And all thy pride and haughty trust
Lie with it levelled in the dust.
The words that thou hast said to-day,
That thou wouldst wipe the tears away
Of all the giants I have slain,
My deeds shall render void and vain.
Thou meanest of the giants' breed,
Evil in thought and word and deed,
My hand shall take that life of thine
As Garuḍ476 seized the juice divine.
Thou, rent by shafts, this day shalt die:
Low on the ground thy corse shall lie,
And bubbles from the cloven neck
With froth and blood thy skin shall deck.
With dust and mire all rudely dyed,
Thy torn arms lying by thy side,
While streams of blood each limb shall steep,
Thou on earth's breast shalt take thy sleep
Like a fond lover when he strains
The beauty whom at length he gains.
Now when thy heavy eyelids close
For ever in thy deep repose,
Again shall Daṇḍak forest be
Safe refuge for the devotee.
Thou slain, and all thy race who held
The realm of Janasthán expelled,
Again shall happy hermits rove,
Fearing no danger, through the grove.
Within those bounds, their brethren slain,
No giant shall this day remain,
But all shall fly with many a tear
And fearing, rid the saints of fear.
This bitter day shall misery bring
On all the race that calls thee king.
Fierce as their lord, thy dames shall know,
Bereft of joys, the taste of woe.
Base, cruel wretch, of evil mind,
Plaguer of Bráhmans and mankind,
With trembling hands each devotee
Feeds holy fires in dread of thee.”
Thus with wild fury unrepressed
Raghu's brave son the fiend addressed;
And Khara, as his wrath grew high,
Thus thundered forth his fierce reply:
“By senseless pride to madness wrought,
By danger girt thou fearest naught,
Nor heedest, numbered with the dead,
What thou shouldst say and leave unsaid.
When Fate's tremendous coils enfold
The captive in resistless hold,
He knows not right from wrong, each sense
Numbed by that deadly influence.”
He spoke, and when his speech was done
Bent his fierce brows on Raghu's son.
With eager eyes he looked around
If lethal arms might yet be found.
Not far away and full in view
A Sál-tree towering upward grew.
His lips in mighty strain compressed,
He tore it up with root and crest,
With huge arms waved it o'er his head
And hurled it shouting, Thou art dead.
But Ráma, unsurpassed in might,
Stayed with his shafts its onward flight,
And furious longing seized his soul
The giant in the dust to roll.
Great drops of sweat each limb bedewed,
His red eyes showed his wrathful mood.
A thousand arrows, swiftly sent,
The giant's bosom tore and rent.
From every gash his body showed
The blood in foamy torrents flowed,
As springing from their caverns leap
Swift rivers down the mountain steep.
When Khara felt each deadened power
Yielding beneath that murderous shower,
He charged, infuriate with the scent
Of blood, in dire bewilderment.
But Ráma watched, with ready bow,
The onset of his bleeding foe,
And ere the monster reached him, drew
Backward in haste a yard or two.
Then from his side a shaft he took
Whose mortal stroke no life might brook:
Of peerless might, it bore the name
Of Brahmá's staff, and glowed with flame:
Lord Indra, ruler of the skies,
Himself had given the glorious prize.
His bow the virtuous hero drew,
And at the fiend the arrow flew.
Hissing and roaring like the blast
Of tempest through the air it passed,
And fixed, by Ráma's vigour sped,
In the foe's breast its pointed head.
Then fell the fiend: the quenchless flame
Burnt furious in his wounded frame.
So burnt by Rudra Andhak477 fell
In Śvetáraṇya's silvery dell:
So Namuchi and Vritra478 died
By steaming bolts that tamed their pride:
So Bala479 fell by lightning sent
By Him who rules the firmament.
Then all the Gods in close array
With the bright hosts who sing and play,
Filled full of rapture and amaze,
Sang hymns of joy in Ráma's praise,
Beat their celestial drums and shed
Rain of sweet flowers upon his head.
For three short hours had scarcely flown,
And by his pointed shafts o'erthrown
The twice seven thousand fiends, whose will
Could change their shapes, in death were still,
With Triśirás and Dúshaṇ slain,
And Khara, leader of the train.
“O wondrous deed,” the bards began,
“The noblest deed of virtuous man!
Heroic strength that stood alone,
And firmness e'en as Vishṇu's own!”
Thus having sung, the shining train
Turned to their heavenly homes again.
Then the high saints of royal race
And loftiest station sought the place,
And by the great Agastya led,
With reverence to Ráma said:
“For this, Lord Indra, glorious sire,
Majestic as the burning fire,
Who crushes cities in his rage,
Sought Śarabhanga's hermitage.
Thou wast, this great design to aid,
Led by the saints to seek this shade,
And with thy mighty arm to kill
The giants who delight in ill.
Thou Daśaratha's noble son,
The battle for our sake hast won,
And saints in Daṇḍak's wild who live
Their days to holy tasks can give.”
Forth from the mountain cavern came
The hero Lakshmaṇ with the dame.
And rapture beaming from his face,
Resought the hermit dwelling-place.
Then when the mighty saints had paid
Due honour for the victor's aid,
The glorious Ráma honoured too
By Lakshmaṇ to his cot withdrew.
When Sítá looked upon her lord,
His foemen slain, the saints restored,
In pride and rapture uncontrolled
She clasped him in her loving hold.
On the dead fiends her glances fell:
She saw her lord alive and well,
Victorious after toil and pain,
And Janak's child was blest again.
Once more, once more with new delight
Her tender arms she threw
Round Ráma whose victorious might
Had crushed the demon crew.
Then as his grateful reverence paid
Each saint of lofty soul,
O'er her sweet face, all fears allayed,
The flush of transport stole.

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