Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto XXXIV. Súrpanakhá's Speech.

Then forth the giant's fury broke
As Śúrpaṇakhá harshly spoke.
Girt by his lords the demon king
Looked on her, fiercely questioning:
“Who is this Ráma, whence, and where?
His form, his might, his deeds declare.
His wandering steps what purpose led
To Daṇḍak forest, hard to tread?
What arms are his that he could smite
In fray the rovers of the night,
And Triśirás and Dúshaṇ lay
Low on the earth, and Khara slay?
Tell all, my sister, and declare
Who maimed thee thus, of form most fair.”
Thus by the giant king addressed,
While burnt her fury unrepressed,
The giantess declared at length
The hero's form and deeds and strength:
“Long are his arms and large his eyes:
A black deer's skin his dress supplies.
King Daśaratha's son is he,
Fair as Kandarpa's self to see.
Adorned with many a golden band,
A bow, like Indra's, arms his hand,
And shoots a flood of arrows fierce
As venomed snakes to burn and pierce.
I looked, I looked, but never saw
His mighty hand the bowstring draw
That sent the deadly arrows out,
While rang through air his battle-shout.
I looked, I looked, and saw too well
How with that hail the giants fell,
As falls to earth the golden grain,
Struck by the blows of Indra's rain.
He fought, and twice seven thousand, all
Terrific giants, strong and tall,
Fell by the pointed shafts o'erthrown
Which Ráma shot on foot, alone.
Three little hours had scarcely fled,—
Khara and Dúshaṇ both were dead,
And he had freed the saints and made
Asylum sure in Daṇḍak's shade.
Me of his grace the victor spared,
Or I the giants' fate had shared.
The high-souled Ráma would not deign
His hand with woman's blood to stain.
The glorious Lakshmaṇ, justly dear,
In gifts and warrior might his peer,
Serves his great brother with the whole
Devotion of his faithful soul:
Impetuous victor, bold and wise,
First in each hardy enterprise,
Still ready by his side to stand,
A second self or better hand.
And Ráma has a large-eyed spouse,
Pure as the moon her cheek and brows,
Dearer than life in Ráma's sight,
Whose happiness is her delight.
With beauteous hair and nose the dame
From head to foot has naught to blame.
She shines the wood's bright Goddess, Queen
Of beauty with her noble mien.
First in the ranks of women placed
Is Sítá of the dainty waist.
In all the earth mine eyes have ne'er
Seen female form so sweetly fair.
Goddess nor nymph can vie with her,
Nor bride of heavenly chorister.
He who might call this dame his own,
Her eager arms about him thrown,
Would live more blest in Sítá's love
Than Indra in the world above.
She, peerless in her form and face
And rich in every gentle grace,
Is worthy bride, O King, for thee,
As thou art meet her lord to be.
I even I, will bring the bride
In triumph to her lover's side—
This beauty fairer than the rest,
With rounded limb and heaving breast.
Each wound upon my face I owe
To cruel Lakshmaṇ's savage blow.
But thou, O brother, shalt survey
Her moonlike loveliness to-day,
And Káma's piercing shafts shall smite
Thine amorous bosom at the sight.
If in thy breast the longing rise
To make thine own the beauteous prize,
Up, let thy better foot begin
The journey and the treasure win.
If, giant Lord, thy favouring eyes
Regard the plan which I advise,
Up, cast all fear and doubt away
And execute the words I say
Come, giant King, this treasure seek,
For thou art strong and they are weak.
Let Sítá of the faultless frame
Be borne away and be thy dame.
Thy host in Janasthán who dwelt
Forth to the battle hied.
And by the shafts which Ráma dealt
They perished in their pride.
Dúshaṇ and Khara breathe no more,
Laid low upon the plain.
Arise, and ere the day be o'er
Take vengeance for the slain.”

Canto XXXV. Rávan's Journey.

When Rávaṇ, by her fury spurred,
That terrible advice had heard,
He bade his nobles quit his side,
And to the work his thought applied.
He turned his anxious mind to scan
On every side the hardy plan:
The gain against the risk he laid,
Each hope and fear with care surveyed,
And in his heart at length decreed
To try performance of the deed.
Then steady in his dire intent
The giant to the courtyard went.
There to his charioteer he cried,
“Bring forth the car whereon I ride.”
Aye ready at his master's word
The charioteer the order heard,
And yoked with active zeal the best
Of chariots at his lord's behest.
Asses with heads of goblins drew
That wondrous car where'er it flew.
Obedient to the will it rolled
Adorned with gems and glistering gold.
Then mounting, with a roar as loud
As thunder from a labouring cloud,
The mighty monarch to the tide
Of Ocean, lord of rivers, hied.
White was the shade above him spread,
White chouris waved around his head,
And he with gold and jewels bright
Shone like the glossy lazulite.
Ten necks and twenty arms had he:
His royal gear was good to see.
The heavenly Gods' insatiate foe,
Who made the blood of hermits flow,
He like the Lord of Hills appeared
With ten huge heads to heaven upreared.
In the great car whereon he rode,
Like some dark cloud the giant showed,
When round it in their close array
The cranes 'mid wreaths of lightning play.
He looked, and saw, from realms of air,
The rocky shore of ocean, where
Unnumbered trees delightful grew
With flower and fruit of every hue.
He looked on many a lilied pool
With silvery waters fresh and cool,
And shores like spacious altars meet
For holy hermits' lone retreat.
The graceful palm adorned the scene,
The plantain waved her glossy green.
There grew the sál and betel, there
On bending boughs the flowers were fair.
There hermits dwelt who tamed each sense
By strictest rule of abstinence:
Gandharvas, Kinnars,488 thronged the place,
Nágas and birds of heavenly race.
Bright minstrels of the ethereal quire,
And saints exempt from low desire,
With Ájas, sons of Brahmá's line,
Maríchipas of seed divine,
Vaikhánasas and Máshas strayed,
And Bálakhilyas489 in the shade.
The lovely nymphs of heaven were there,
Celestial wreaths confined their hair,
And to each form new grace was lent
By wealth of heavenly ornament.
Well skilled was each in play and dance
And gentle arts of dalliance.
The glorious wife of many a God
Those beautiful recesses trod,
There Gods and Dánavs, all who eat
The food of heaven, rejoiced to meet.
The swan and Sáras thronged each bay
With curlews, ducks, and divers gay,
Where the sea spray rose soft and white
O'er rocks of glossy lazulite.
As his swift way the fiend pursued
Pale chariots of the Gods he viewed,
Bearing each lord whose rites austere
Had raised him to the heavenly sphere.
Thereon celestial garlands hung,
There music played and songs were sung.
Then bright Gandharvas met his view,
And heavenly nymphs, as on he flew.
He saw the sandal woods below,
And precious trees of odorous flow,
That to the air around them lent
Their riches of delightful scent;
Nor failed his roving eye to mark
Tall aloe trees in grove and park.
He looked on wood with cassias filled,
And plants which balmy sweets distilled,
Where her fair flowers the betel showed
And the bright pods of pepper glowed.
The pearls in many a silvery heap
Lay on the margin of the deep.
And grey rocks rose amid the red
Of coral washed from ocean's bed.
High soared the mountain peaks that bore
Treasures of gold and silver ore,
And leaping down the rocky walls
Came wild and glorious waterfalls.
Fair towns which grain and treasure held,
And dames who every gem excelled,
He saw outspread beneath him far,
With steed, and elephant, and car.
That ocean shore he viewed that showed
Fair as the blessed Gods' abode
Where cool delightful breezes played
O'er levels in the freshest shade.
He saw a fig-tree like a cloud
With mighty branches earthward bowed.
It stretched a hundred leagues and made
For hermit bands a welcome shade.
Thither the feathered king of yore
An elephant and tortoise bore,
And lighted on a bough to eat
The captives of his taloned feet.
The bough unable to sustain
The crushing weight and sudden strain,
Loaded with sprays and leaves of spring
Gave way beneath the feathered king.
Under the shadow of the tree
Dwelt many a saint and devotee,
Ájas, the sons of Brahmá's line,
Máshas, Maríchipas divine.
Vaikhánasas, and all the race
Of Bálakhilyas, loved the place.
But pitying their sad estate
The feathered monarch raised the weight
Of the huge bough, and bore away
The loosened load and captured prey.
A hundred leagues away he sped,
Then on his monstrous booty fed,
And with the bough he smote the lands
Where dwell the wild Nisháda bands.
High joy was his because his deed
From jeopardy the hermits freed.
That pride for great deliverance wrought
A double share of valour brought.
His soul conceived the high emprise
To snatch the Amrit from the skies.
He rent the nets of iron first,
Then through the jewel chamber burst,
And bore the drink of heaven away
That watched in Indra's palace lay.
Such was the hermit-sheltering tree
Which Rávaṇ turned his eye to see.
Still marked where Garuḍ sought to rest,
The fig-tree bore the name of Blest.
When Rávaṇ stayed his chariot o'er
The ocean's heart-enchanting shore,
He saw a hermitage that stood
Sequestered in the holy wood.
He saw the fiend Márícha there
With deerskin garb, and matted hair
Coiled up in hermit guise, who spent
His days by rule most abstinent.
As guest and host are wont to meet,
They met within that lone retreat.
Before the king Márícha placed
Food never known to human taste.
He entertained his guest with meat
And gave him water for his feet,
And then addressed the giant king
With timely words of questioning:
“Lord, is it well with thee, and well
With those in Lanká's town who dwell?
What sudden thought, what urgent need
Has brought thee with impetuous speed?”
The fiend Márícha thus addressed
Rávaṇ the king, his mighty guest,
And he, well skilled in arts that guide
The eloquent, in turn replied:

Canto XXXVI. Rávan's Speech.

“Hear me, Márícha, while I speak,
And tell thee why thy home I seek.
Sick and distressed am I, and see
My surest hope and help in thee.
Of Janasthán I need not tell,
Where Śúrpaṇakhá, Khara, dwell,
And Dúshaṇ with the arm of might,
And Triśirás, the fierce in fight,
Who feeds on human flesh and gore,
And many noble giants more,
Who roam in dark of midnight through
The forest, brave and strong and true.
By my command they live at ease
And slaughter saints and devotees.
Those twice seven thousand giants, all
Obedient to their captain's call,
Joying in war and ruthless deeds
Follow where mighty Khara leads.
Those fearless warrior bands who roam
Through Janasthán their forest home,
In all their terrible array
Met Ráma in the battle fray.
Girt with all weapons forth they sped
With Khara at the army's head.
The front of battle Ráma held:
With furious wrath his bosom swelled.
Without a word his hate to show
He launched the arrows from his bow.
On the fierce hosts the missiles came,
Each burning with destructive flame,
The twice seven thousand fell o'erthrown
By him, a man, on foot, alone.
Khara the army's chief and pride,
And Dúshaṇ, fearless warrior, died,
And Triśirás the fierce was slain,
And Daṇḍak wood was free again.
He, banished by his angry sire,
Roams with his wife in mean attire.
This wretch, his Warrior tribe's disgrace
Has slain the best of giant race.
Harsh, wicked, fierce and greedy-souled,
A fool, with senses uncontrolled,
No thought of duty stirs his breast:
He joys to see the world distressed.
He sought the wood with fair pretence
Of truthful life and innocence,
But his false hand my sister left
Mangled, of nose and ears bereft.
This Ráma's wife who bears the name
Of Sítá, in her face and frame
Fair as a daughter of the skies,—
Her will I seize and bring the prize
Triumphant from the forest shade:
For this I seek thy willing aid.
If thou, O mighty one, wilt lend
Thy help and stand beside thy friend,
I with my brothers may defy
All Gods embattled in the sky.
Come, aid me now, for thine the power
To succour in the doubtful hour.
Thou art in war and time of fear,
For heart and hand, without a peer.
For thou art skilled in art and wile,
A warrior brave and trained in guile.
With this one hope, this only aim,
O Rover of the Night, I came.
Now let me tell what aid I ask
To back me in my purposed task.
In semblance of a golden deer
Adorned with silver spots appear.
Go, seek his dwelling: in the way
Of Ráma and his consort stray.
Doubt not the lady, when she sees
The wondrous deer amid the trees,
Will bid her lord and Lakshmaṇ take
The creature for its beauty's sake.
Then when the chiefs have parted thence,
And left her lone, without defence,
As Ráhu storms the moonlight, I
Will seize the lovely dame and fly.
Her lord will waste away and weep
For her his valour could not keep.
Then boldly will I strike the blow
And wreak my vengeance on the foe.”
When wise Márícha heard the tale
His heart grew faint, his cheek was pale,
He stared with open orbs, and tried
To moisten lips which terror dried,
And grief, like death, his bosom rent
As on the king his look he bent.
The monarch's will he strove to stay,
Distracted with alarm,
For well he knew the might that lay
In Ráma's matchless arm.
With suppliant hands Márícha stood
And thus began to tell
His counsel for the tyrant's good,
And for his own as well:

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