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Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto XXXI. Rávan.

But of the host of giants one,
Akampan, from the field had run
And sped to Lanká480 to relate
In Rávaṇ's ear the demons' fate:
“King, many a giant from the shade
Of Janasthán in death is laid:
Khara the chief is slain, and I
Could scarcely from the battle fly.”
Fierce anger, as the monarch heard,
Inflamed his look, his bosom stirred,
And while with scorching glance he eyed
The messenger, he thus replied:
“What fool has dared, already dead,
Strike Janasthán, the general dread?
Who is the wretch shall vainly try
In earth, heaven, hell, from me to fly?
Vaiśravaṇ,481 Indra, Vishṇu, He
Who rules the dead, must reverence me;
For not the mightiest lord of these
Can brave my will and live at ease.
Fate finds in me a mightier fate
To burn the fires that devastate.
With unresisted influence I
Can force e'en Death himself to die,
With all-surpassing might restrain
The fury of the hurricane,
And burn in my tremendous ire
The glory of the sun and fire.”
As thus the fiend's hot fury blazed,
His trembling hands Akampan raised,
And with a voice which fear made weak,
Permission craved his tale to speak.
King Rávaṇ gave the leave he sought,
And bade him tell the news he brought.
His courage rose, his voice grew bold,
And thus his mournful tale he told:
“A prince with mighty shoulders, sprung
From Daśaratha, brave and young,
With arms well moulded, bears the name
Of Ráma with a lion's frame.
Renowned, successful, dark of limb,
Earth has no warrior equals him.
He fought in Janasthán and slew
Dúshaṇ the fierce and Khara too.”
Rávaṇ the giants' royal chief.
Received Akampan's tale of grief.
Then, panting like an angry snake,
These words in turn the monarch spake:
“Say quick, did Ráma seek the shade
Of Janasthán with Indra's aid,
And all the dwellers in the skies
To back his hardy enterprise?”
Akampan heard, and straight obeyed
His master, and his answer made.
Then thus the power and might he told
Of Raghu's son the lofty-souled:
“Best is that chief of all who know
With deftest art to draw the bow.
His are strange arms of heavenly might,
And none can match him in the fight.
His brother Lakshmaṇ brave as he,
Fair as the rounded moon to see,
With eyes like night and voice that comes
Deep as the roll of beaten drums,
By Ráma's side stands ever near,
Like wind that aids the flame's career.
That glorious chief, that prince of kings,
On Janasthán this ruin brings.
No Gods were there,—dismiss the thought
No heavenly legions came and fought.
His swift-winged arrows Ráma sent,
Each bright with gold and ornament.
To serpents many-faced they turned:
The giant hosts they ate and burned.
Where'er these fled in wild dismay
Ráma was there to strike and slay.
By him O King of high estate,
Is Janasthán left desolate.”
Akampan ceased: in angry pride
The giant monarch thus replied:
“To Janasthán myself will go
And lay these daring brothers low.”
Thus spoke the king in furious mood:
Akampan then his speech renewed:
“O listen while I tell at length
The terror of the hero's strength.
No power can check, no might can tame
Ráma, a chief of noblest fame.
He with resistless shafts can stay
The torrent foaming on its way.
Sky, stars, and constellations, all
To his fierce might would yield and fall.
His power could earth itself uphold
Down sinking as it sank of old.482
Or all its plains and cities drown,
Breaking the wild sea's barrier down;
Crush the great deep's impetuous will,
Or bid the furious wind be still.
He glorious in his high estate
The triple world could devastate,
And there, supreme of men, could place
His creatures of a new-born race.
Never can mighty Ráma be
O'ercome in fight, my King, by thee.
Thy giant host the day might win
From him, if heaven were gained by sin.
If Gods were joined with demons, they
Could ne'er, I ween, that hero slay,
But guile may kill the wondrous man;
Attend while I disclose the plan.
His wife, above all women graced,
Is Sítá of the dainty waist,
With limbs to fair proportion true,
And a soft skin of lustrous hue,
Round neck and arm rich gems are twined:
She is the gem of womankind.
With her no bright Gandharví vies,
No nymph or Goddess in the skies;
And none to rival her would dare
'Mid dames who part the long black hair.
That hero in the wood beguile,
And steal his lovely spouse the while.
Reft of his darling wife, be sure,
Brief days the mourner will endure.”
With flattering hope of triumph moved
The giant king that plan approved,
Pondered the counsel in his breast,
And then Akampan thus addressed:
“Forth in my car I go at morn,
None but the driver with me borne,
And this fair Sítá will I bring
Back to my city triumphing.”
Forth in his car by asses drawn
The giant monarch sped at dawn,
Bright as the sun, the chariot cast
Light through the sky as on it passed.
Then high in air that best of cars
Traversed the path of lunar stars,
Sending a fitful radiance pale
As moonbeams shot through cloudy veil.
Far on his airy way he flew:
Near Táḍakeya's483 grove he drew.
Márícha welcomed him, and placed
Before him food which giants taste,
With honour led him to a seat,
And brought him water for his feet;
And then with timely words addressed
Such question to his royal guest:
“Speak, is it well with thee whose sway
The giant multitudes obey?
I know not all, and ask in fear
The cause, O King, why thou art here.”
Ráva, the giants' mighty king,
Heard wise Márícha's questioning,
And told with ready answer, taught
In eloquence, the cause he sought:
“My guards, the bravest of my band,
Are slain by Ráma's vigorous hand,
And Janasthán, that feared no hate
Of foes, is rendered desolate.
Come, aid me in the plan I lay
To steal the conqueror's wife away.”
Márícha heard the king's request,
And thus the giant chief addressed:
“What foe in friendly guise is he
Who spoke of Sítá's name to thee?
Who is the wretch whose thought would bring
Destruction on the giants' king?
Whose is the evil counsel, say,
That bids thee bear his wife away,
And careless of thy life provoke
Earth's loftiest with threatening stroke?
A foe is he who dared suggest
This hopeless folly to thy breast,
Whose ill advice would bid thee draw
The venomed fang from serpent's jaw.
By whose unwise suggestion led
Wilt thou the path of ruin tread?
Whence falls the blow that would destroy
Thy gentle sleep of ease and joy?
Like some wild elephant is he
That rears his trunk on high,
Lord of an ancient pedigree,
Huge tusks, and furious eye.
Rávaṇ, no rover of the night
With bravest heart can brook,
Met in the front of deadly fight,
On Raghu's son to look.
The giant hosts were brave and strong,
Good at the bow and spear:
But Ráma slew the routed throng,
A lion 'mid the deer.
No lion's tooth can match his sword,
Or arrows fiercely shot:
He sleeps, he sleeps—the lion lord;
Be wise and rouse him not.
O Monarch of the giants, well
Upon my counsel think,
Lest thou for ever in the hell
Of Ráma's vengeance sink:
A hell, where deadly shafts are sent
From his tremendous-bow,
While his great arms all flight prevent,
Like deepest mire below:
Where the wild floods of battle rave
Above the foeman's head,
And each with many a feathery wave
Of shafts is garlanded.
O, quench the flames that in thy breast
With raging fury burn;
And pacified and self-possessed
To Lanká's town return.
Rest thou in her imperial bowers
With thine own wives content,
And in the wood let Ráma's hours
With Sítá still be spent.”
The lord of Lanká's isle obeyed
The counsel, and his purpose stayed.
Borne on his car he parted thence
And gained his royal residence.

Canto XXXII. Rávan Roused.

But Śúrpaṇakhá saw the plain
Spread with the fourteen thousand slain,
Doers of cruel deeds o'erthrown
By Ráma's mighty arm alone,
Add Triśirás and Dúshaṇ dead,
And Khara, with the hosts they led.
Their death she saw, and mad with pain,
Roared like a cloud that brings the rain,
And fled in anger and dismay
To Lanká, seat of Rávaṇ's sway.
There on a throne of royal state
Exalted sat the potentate,
Begirt with counsellor and peer,
Like Indra with the Storm Gods near.
Bright as the sun's full splendour shone
The glorious throne he sat upon,
As when the blazing fire is red
Upon a golden altar fed.
Wide gaped his mouth at every breath,
Tremendous as the jaws of Death.
With him high saints of lofty thought,
Gandharvas, Gods, had vainly fought.
The wounds were on his body yet
From wars where Gods and demons met.
And scars still marked his ample chest
By fierce Airávat's484 tusk impressed.
A score of arms, ten necks, had he,
His royal gear was brave to see.
His massive form displayed each sign
That marks the heir of kingly line.
In stature like a mountain height,
His arms were strong, his teeth were white,
And all his frame of massive mould
Seemed lazulite adorned with gold.
A hundred seams impressed each limp
Where Vishṇu's arm had wounded him,
And chest and shoulder bore the print
Of sword and spear and arrow dint,
Where every God had struck a blow
In battle with the giant foe.
His might to wildest rage could wake
The sea whose faith naught else can shake,
Hurl towering mountains to the earth,
And crush e'en foes of heavenly birth.
The bonds of law and right he spurned:
To others' wives his fancy turned.
Celestial arms he used in fight,
And loved to mar each holy rite.
He went to Bhogavatí's town,485
Where Vásuki was beaten down,
And stole, victorious in the strife,
Lord Takshaka's beloved wife.
Kailása's lofty crest he sought,
And when in vain Kuvera fought,
Stole Pushpak thence, the car that through
The air, as willed the master, flew.
Impelled by furious anger, he
Spoiled Nandan's486 shade and Naliní,
And Chaitraratha's heavenly grove,
The haunts where Gods delight to rove.
Tall as a hill that cleaves the sky,
He raised his mighty arms on high
To check the blessed moon, and stay
The rising of the Lord of Day.
Ten thousand years the giant spent
On dire austerities intent,
And of his heads an offering, laid
Before the Self-existent, made.
No God or fiend his life could take,
Gandharva, goblin, bird, or snake:
Safe from all fears of death, except
From human arm, that life was kept.
Oft when the priests began to raise
Their consecrating hymns of praise,
He spoiled the Soma's sacred juice
Poured forth by them in solemn use.
The sacrifice his hands o'erthrew,
And cruelly the Bráhmans slew.
His was a heart that naught could melt,
Joying in woes which others felt.
She saw the ruthless monster there,
Dread of the worlds, unused to spare.
In robes of heavenly texture dressed,
Celestial wreaths adorned his breast.
He sat a shape of terror, like
Destruction ere the worlds it strike.
She saw him in his pride of place,
The joy of old Pulastya's487 race,
Begirt by counsellor and peer,
Rávaṇ, the foeman's mortal fear,
And terror in her features shown,
The giantess approached the throne.
Then Śúrpaṇakhá bearing yet
Each deeply printed trace
Where the great-hearted chief had set
A mark upon her face,
Impelled by terror and desire,
Still fierce, no longer bold,
To Rávaṇ of the eyes of fire
Her tale, infuriate, told.

Canto XXXIII. Súrpanakhá's Speech.

Burning with anger, in the ring
Of counsellors who girt their king,
To Rávaṇ, ravener of man,
With bitter words she thus began:
“Wilt thou absorbed in pleasure, still
Pursue unchecked thy selfish will:
Nor turn thy heedless eyes to see
The coming fate which threatens thee?
The king who days and hours employs
In base pursuit of vulgar joys
Must in his people's sight be vile
As fire that smokes on funeral pile.
He who when duty calls him spares
No time for thought of royal cares,
Must with his realm and people all
Involved in fatal ruin fall.
As elephants in terror shrink
From the false river's miry brink,
Thus subjects from a monarch flee
Whose face their eyes may seldom see,
Who spends the hours for toil ordained
In evil courses unrestrained.
He who neglects to guard and hold
His kingdom by himself controlled,
Sinks nameless like a hill whose head
Is buried in the ocean's bed.
Thy foes are calm and strong and wise,
Fiends, Gods, and warriors of the skies,—
How, heedless, wicked, weak, and vain,
Wilt thou thy kingly state maintain?
Thou, lord of giants, void of sense,
Slave of each changing influence,
Heedless of all that makes a king,
Destruction on thy head wilt bring.
O conquering chief, the prince, who boasts,
Of treasury and rule and hosts,
By others led, though lord of all,
Is meaner than the lowest thrall.
For this are monarchs said to be
Long-sighted, having power to see
Things far away by faithful eyes
Of messengers and loyal spies.
But aid from such thou wilt not seek:
Thy counsellors are blind and weak,
Or thou from these hadst surely known
Thy legions and thy realm o'erthrown.
Know, twice seven thousand, fierce in might,
Are slain by Ráma in the fight,
And they, the giant host who led,
Khara and Dúshaṇ, both are dead.
Know, Ráma with his conquering arm
Has freed the saints from dread of harm,
Has smitten Janasthán and made
Asylum safe in Daṇḍak's shade.
Enslaved and dull, of blinded sight,
Intoxicate with vain delight,
Thou closest still thy heedless eyes
To dangers in thy realm that rise.
A king besotted, mean, unkind,
Of niggard hand and slavish mind.
Will find no faithful followers heed
Their master in his hour of need.
The friend on whom he most relies,
In danger, from a monarch flies,
Imperious in his high estate,
Conceited, proud, and passionate;
Who ne'er to state affairs attends
With wholesome fear when woe impends
Most weak and worthless as the grass,
Soon from his sway the realm will pass.
For rotting wood a use is found,
For clods and dust that strew the ground,
But when a king has lost his sway,
Useless he falls, and sinks for aye.
As raiment by another worn,
As faded garland crushed and torn,
So is, unthroned, the proudest king,
Though mighty once, a useless thing.
But he who every sense subdues
And each event observant views,
Rewards the good and keeps from wrong,
Shall reign secure and flourish long.
Though lulled in sleep his senses lie
He watches with a ruler's eye,
Untouched by favour, ire, and hate,
And him the people celebrate.
O weak of mind, without a trace
Of virtues that a king should grace,
Who hast not learnt from watchful spy
That low in death the giants lie.
Scorner of others, but enchained
By every base desire,
By thee each duty is disdained
Which time and place require.
Soon wilt thou, if thou canst not learn,
Ere yet it be too late,
The good from evil to discern,
Fall from thy high estate.”
As thus she ceased not to upbraid
The king with cutting speech,
And every fault to view displayed,
Naming and marking each,
The monarch of the sons of night,
Of wealth and power possessed,
And proud of his imperial might,
Long pondered in his breast.

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