Ramayan, Book 3, The

Canto LVIII. The Brothers' Meeting.

When Ráma's deadly shaft had struck
The giant in the seeming buck,
The chieftain turned him from the place
His homeward way again to trace.
Then as he hastened onward, fain
To look upon his spouse again,
Behind him from a thicket nigh
Rang out a jackal's piercing cry.
Alarmed he heard the startling shriek
That raised his hair and dimmed his cheek,
And all his heart was filled with doubt
As the shrill jackal's cry rang out:
“Alas, some dire disaster seems
Portended by the jackal's screams.
O may the Maithil dame be screened
From outrage of each hungry fiend!
Alas, if Lakshmaṇ chanced to hear
That bitter cry of woe and fear
What time Márícha, as he died,
With voice that mocked my accents cried,
Swift to my side the prince would flee
And quit the dame to succour me.
Too well I see the demon band
The slaughter of my love have planned.
Me far from home and Sítá's view
The seeming deer Márícha drew.
He led me far through brake and dell
Till wounded by my shaft he fell,
And as he sank rang out his cry,
“O save me, Lakshmaṇ, or I die.”
May it be well with both who stayed
In the great wood with none to aid,
For every fiend is now my foe
For Janasthán's great overthrow,
And many an omen seen to-day
Has filled my heart with sore dismay.”
Such were the thoughts and sad surmise
Of Ráma at the jackal's cries,
And all his heart within him burned
As to his cot his steps he turned.
He pondered on the deer that led
His feet to follow where it fled,
And sad with many a bitter thought
His home in Janasthán he sought.
His soul was dark with woe and fear
When flocks of birds and troops of deer
Move round him from the left, and raised
Discordant voices as they gazed.
The omens which the chieftain viewed
The terror of his soul renewed,
When lo, to meet him Lakshmaṇ sped
With brows whence all the light had fled.
Near and more near the princes came,
Each brother's heart and look the same;
Alike on each sad visage lay
The signs of misery and dismay,
Then Ráma by his terror moved
His brother for his fault reproved
In leaving Sítá far from aid
In the wild wood where giants strayed.
Lakshmaṇ's left hand he took, and then
In gentle tones the prince of men,
Though sharp and fierce their tenour ran,
Thus to his brother chief began:
“O Lakshmaṇ, thou art much to blame
Leaving alone the Maithil dame,
And flying hither to my side:
O, may no ill my spouse betide!
But ah, I know my wife is dead,
And giants on her limbs have fed,
So strange, so terrible are all
The omens which my heart appal.
O Lakshmaṇ, may we yet return
The safety of my love to learn.
To find the child of Janak still
Alive and free from scathe and ill!
Each bird with notes of warning screams,
Though the hot sun still darts his beams.
The moan of deer, the jackal's yell
Of some o'erwhelming misery tell.
O mighty brother, still may she,
My princess, live from danger free!
That semblance of a golden deer
Allured me far away,
I followed nearer and more near,
And longed to take the prey.
I followed where the quarry fled:
My deadly arrow flew,
And as the dying creature bled,
The giant met my view.
Great fear and pain oppress my heart
That dreads the coming blow,
And through my left eye keenly dart
The throbs that herald woe.
Ah Lakshmaṇ, all these signs dismay,
My soul that sinks with dread,
I know my love is torn away,
Or, haply, she is dead.”

Canto LIX. Ráma's Return.

When Ráma saw his brother stand
With none beside him, all unmanned,
Eager he questioned why he came
So far without the Maithil dame:
“Where is my wife, my darling, she
Who to the wild wood followed me?
Where hast thou left my lady, where
The dame who chose my lot to share?
Where is my love who balms my woe
As through the forest wilds I go,
Unkinged and banished and disgraced,—
My darling of the dainty waist?
She nerves my spirit for the strife,
She, only she gives zest to life,
Dear as my breath is she who vies
In charms with daughters of the skies.
If Janak's child be mine no more,
In splendour fair as virgin ore,
The lordship of the skies and earth
To me were prize of little worth.
Ah, lives she yet, the Maithil dame,
Dear as the soul within this frame?
O, let not all my toil be vain,
The banishment, the woe and pain!
O, let not dark Kaikeyí win
The guerdon of her treacherous sin,
If, Sítá lost, my days I end,
And thou without me homeward wend!
O, let not good Kauśalyá shed
Her bitter tears to mourn me dead,
Nor her proud rival's hest obey,
Strong in her son and queenly sway!
Back to my cot will I repair
If Sítá live to greet me there,
But if my wife have perished, I
Reft of my love will surely die.
O Lakshmaṇ, if I seek my cot,
Look for my love and find her not
Sweet welcome with her smile to give,
I tell thee, I will cease to live.
O answer,—let thy words be plain,—
Lives Sítá yet, or is she slain?
Didst thou thy sacred trust betray
Till ravening giants seized the prey?
Ah me, so young, so soft and fair,
Lapped in all bliss, untried by care,
Rent from her own dear husband, how
Will she support her misery now?
That voice, O Lakshmaṇ smote thine ear,
And filled, I ween, thy heart with fear,
When on thy name for succour cried
The treacherous giant ere he died.
That voice too like mine own, I ween,
Was heard by the Videhan queen.
She bade thee seek my side to aid,
And quickly was the hest obeyed,
But ah, thy fault I needs must blame,
To leave alone the helpless dame,
And let the cruel giants sate
The fury of their murderous hate.
Those blood-devouring demons all
Grieve in their souls for Khara's fall,
And Sítá, none to guard her side,
Torn by their cruel hands has died.
I sink, O tamer of thy foes,
Deep in the sea of whelming woes.
What can I now? I must endure
The mighty grief that mocks at cure.”
Thus, all his thoughts on Sítá bent,
To Janasthán the chieftain went,
Hastening on with eager stride,
And Lakshmaṇ hurried by his side.
With toil and thirst and hunger worn,
His breast with doubt and anguish torn,
He sought the well-known spot.
Again, again he turned to chide
With quivering lips which terror dried:
He looked, and found her not.
Within his leafy home he sped,
Each pleasant spot he visited
Where oft his darling strayed.
“'Tis as I feared,” he cried, and there,
Yielding to pangs too great to bear,
He sank by grief dismayed.

Canto LX. Lakshman Reproved.

But Ráma ceased not to upbraid,
His brother for untimely aid,
And thus, while anguish wrung his breast,
The chief with eager question pressed:
“Why, Lakshmaṇ, didst thou hurry hence
And leave my wife without defence?
I left her in the wood with thee,
And deemed her safe from jeopardy.
When first thy form appeared in view,
I marked that Sítá came not too.
With woe my troubled soul was rent,
Prophetic of the dire event.
Thy coming steps afar I spied,
I saw no Sítá by thy side,
And felt a sudden throbbing dart
Through my left eye, and arm, and heart.”
Lakshmaṇ, with Fortune's marks impressed,
His brother mournfully addressed:
“Not by my heart's free impulse led,
Leaving thy wife to thee I sped;
But by her keen reproaches sent,
O Ráma, to thine aid I went.
She heard afar a mournful cry,
“O save me, Lakshmaṇ, or I die.”
The voice that spoke in moving tone
Smote on her ear and seemed thine own.
Soon as those accents reached her ear
She yielded to her woe and fear,
She wept o'ercome by grief, and cried,
“Fly, Lakshmaṇ, fly to Ráma's side.”
Though many a time she bade me speed,
Her urgent prayer I would not heed.
I bade her in thy strength confide,
And thus with tender words replied:
“No giant roams the forest shade
From whom thy lord need shrink dismayed.
No human voice, believe me, spoke
Those words thy causeless fear that woke.
Can he whose might can save in woe
The heavenly Gods e'er stoop so low,
And with those piteous accents call
For succour like a caitiff thrall?
And why should wandering giants choose
The accents of thy lord to use,
In alien tones my help to crave,
And cry aloud, O Lakshmaṇ, save?
Now let my words thy spirit cheer,
Compose thy thoughts and banish fear.
In hell, in earth, or in the skies
There is not, and there cannot rise
A champion whose strong arm can slay
Thy Ráma in the battle fray.
To heavenly hosts he ne'er would yield
Though Indra led them to the field.”
To soothe her thus I vainly sought:
Her heart with woe was still distraught.
While from her eyes the waters ran
Her bitter speech she thus began:
“Too well I see thy dark intent:
Thy lawless thoughts on me are bent.
Thou hopest, but thy hope is vain,
To win my love, thy brother slain.
Not love, but Bharat's dark decree
To share his exile counselled thee,
Or hearing now his bitter cry
Thou surely to his aid wouldst fly.
For love of me, a stealthy foe
Thou choosest by his side to go,
And now thou longest that my lord
Should die, and wilt no help afford.”
Such were the words the lady said:
With angry fire my eyes were red.
With pale lips quivering in my rage
I hastened from the hermitage.”
He ceased; and frenzied by his pain
The son of Raghu spoke again:
“O brother, for thy fault I grieve,
The Maithil dame alone to leave.
Thou knowest that my arm is strong
To save me from the giant throng,
And yet couldst leave the cottage, spurred
To folly by her angry word.
For this thy deed I praise thee not,—
To leave her helpless in the cot,
And thus thy sacred charge forsake
For the wild words a woman spake.
Yea thou art all to blame herein,
And very grievous is thy sin.
That anger swayed thy faithless breast
And made thee false to my behest.
An arrow speeding from my bow
Has laid the treacherous giant low,
Who lured me eager for the chase
Far from my hermit dwelling-place.
The string with easy hand I drew,
The arrow as in pastime flew,
The wounded quarry bled.
The borrowed form was cast away,
Before mine eye a giant lay
With bright gold braceleted.
My arrow smote him in the chest:
The giant by the pain distressed
Raised his loud voice on high.
Far rang the mournful sound: mine own,
It seemed, were accent, voice, and tone,
They made thee leave my spouse alone
And to my rescue fly.”

Canto LXI. Ráma's Lament.

As Ráma sought his leafy cot
Through his left eye keen throbbings shot,
His wonted strength his frame forsook,
And all his body reeled and shook.
Still on those dreadful signs he thought,—
Sad omens with disaster fraught,
And from his troubled heart he cried,
“O, may no ill my spouse betide!”
Longing to gaze on Sítá's face
He hastened to his dwelling-place,
Then sinking neath his misery's weight,
He looked and found it desolate.
Tossing his mighty arms on high
He sought her with an eager cry,
From spot to spot he wildly ran
Each corner of his home to scan.
He looked, but Sítá was not there;
His cot was disolate and bare,
Like streamlet in the winter frost,
The glory of her lilies lost.
With leafy tears the sad trees wept
As a wild wind their branches swept.
Mourned bird and deer, and every flower
Drooped fainting round the lonely bower.
The silvan deities had fled
The spot where all the light was dead,
Where hermit coats of skin displayed,
And piles of sacred grass were laid.
He saw, and maddened by his pain
Cried in lament again, again:
“Where is she, dead or torn away,
Lost, or some hungry giant's prey?
Or did my darling chance to rove
For fruit and blossoms though the grove?
Or has she sought the pool or rill,
Her pitcher from the wave to fill?”
His eager eyes on fire with pain
He roamed about with maddened brain.
Each grove and glade he searched with care,
He sought, but found no Sítá there.
He wildly rushed from hill to hill;
From tree to tree, from rill to rill,
As bitter woe his bosom rent
Still Ráma roamed with fond lament:
“O sweet Kadamba say has she
Who loved thy bloom been seen by thee?
If thou have seen her face most fair,
Say, gentle tree, I pray thee, where.
O Bel tree with thy golden fruit
Round as her breast, no more be mute,
Where is my radiant darling, gay
In silk that mocks thy glossy spray?
O Arjun, say, where is she now
Who loved to touch thy scented bough?
Do not thy graceful friend forget,
But tell me, is she living yet?
Speak, Basil, thou must surely know,
For like her limbs thy branches show,—
Most lovely in thy fair array
Of twining plant and tender spray.
Sweet Tila, fairest of the trees,
Melodious with the hum of bees,
Where is my darling Sítá, tell,—
The dame who loved thy flowers so well?
Aśoka, act thy gentle part,—
Named Heartsease,507 give me what thou art,
To these sad eyes my darling show
And free me from this load of woe.
O Palm, in rich ripe fruitage dressed
Round as the beauties of her breast,
If thou have heart to know and feel,
My peerless consort's fate reveal.
Hast thou, Rose-apple, chanced to view
My darling bright with golden hue?
If thou have seen her quickly speak,
Where is the dame I wildly seek?
O glorious Cassia, thou art gay
With all thy loveliest bloom to-day,
Where is my dear who loved to hold
In her full lap thy flowery gold?”
To many a tree and plant beside,
To Jasmin, Mango, Sál, he cried.
“Say, hast thou seen, O gentle deer,
The fawn-eyed Sítá wandering here?
It may be that my love has strayed
To sport with fawns beneath the shade,
If thou, great elephant, have seen
My darling of the lovely mien,
Whose rounded limbs are soft and fine
As is that lissome trunk of thine,
O noblest of wild creatures, show
Where is the dame thou needs must know.
O tiger, hast thou chanced to see
My darling? very fair is she,
Cast all thy fear away, declare,
Where is my moon-faced darling, where?
There, darling of the lotus eye,
I see thee, and 'tis vain to fly,
Wilt thou not speak, dear love? I see
Thy form half hidden by the tree.
Stay if thou love me, Sítá, stay
In pity cease thy heartless play.
Why mock me now? thy gentle breast
Was never prone to cruel jest.
'Tis vain behind yon bush to steal:
Thy shimmering silks thy path reveal.
Fly not, mine eyes pursue thy way;
For pity's sake, dear Sítá, stay.
Ah me, ah me, my words are vain;
My gentle love is lost or slain.
How could her tender bosom spurn
Her husband on his home-return?
Ah no, my love is surely dead,
Fierce giants on her flesh have fed,
Rending the soft limbs of their prey
When I her lord was far away.
That moon-bright face, that polished brow,
Red lips, bright teeth—what are they now?
Alas, my darling's shapely neck
She loved with chains of gold to deck,—
That neck that mocked the sandal scent,
The ruthless fiends have grasped and rent.
Alas, 'twas vain those arms to raise
Soft as the young tree's tender sprays.
Ah, dainty meal for giants' lips
Were arms and quivering finger tips.
Ah, she who counted many a friend
Was left for fiends to seize and rend,
Was left by me without defence
From ravening giants' violence.
O Lakshmaṇ of the arm of might,
Say, is my darling love in sight?
O dearest Sítá. where art thou?
Where is my darling consort now?”
Thus as he cried in wild lament
From grove to grove the mourner went,
Here for a moment sank to rest,
Then started up and onward pressed.
Thus roaming on like one distraught
Still for his vanished love he sought,
He searched in wood and hill and glade,
By rock and brook and wild cascade.
Through groves with restless step he sped
And left no spot unvisited.
Through lawns and woods of vast extent
Still searching for his love he went
With eager steps and fast.
For many a weary hour he toiled,
Still in his fond endeavour foiled,
Yet hoping to the last.

Canto LXII. Ráma's Lament.

When all the toil and search was vain
He sought his leafy home again.
'Twas empty still: all scattered lay
The seats of grass in disarray.
He raised his shapely arms on high
And spoke aloud with bitter cry:
“Where is the Maithil dame?” he said,
“O, whither has my darling fled?
Who can have borne away my dame,
Or feasted on her tender frame?
If, Sítá hidden by some tree,
Thou joyest still to mock at me,
Cease, cease thy cruel sport, and take
Compassion, or my heart will break.
Bethink thee, love, the gentle fawns
With whom thou playest on the lawns,
Impatient for thy coming wait
With streaming eyes disconsolate.
Reft of my love, I needs must go
Hence to the shades weighed down by woe.
The king our sire will see me there,
And cry, “O perjured Ráma, where,
Where is thy faith, that thou canst speed
From exile ere the time decreed?”
Ah Sítá, whither hast thou fled
And left me here disquieted,
A hapless mourner, reft of hope,
Too feeble with my woe to cope?
E'en thus indignant Glory flies
The wretch who stains his soul with lies.
If thou, my love, art lost to view,
I in my woe must perish too.”
Thus Ráma by his grief distraught
Wept for the wife he vainly sought,
And Lakshmaṇ whose fraternal breast
Longed for his weal, the chief addressed
Whose soul gave way beneath the pain
When all his eager search was vain,
Like some great elephant who stands
Sinking upon the treacherous sands:
“Not yet, O wisest chief, despair;
Renew thy toil with utmost care.
This noble hill where trees are green
Has many a cave and dark ravine.
The Maithil lady day by day
Delighted in the woods to stray,
Deep in the grove she wanders still,
Or walks by blossom-covered rill,
Or fish-loved river stealing through
Tall clusters of the dark bamboo.
Or else the dame with arch design
To prove thy mood, O Prince, and mine,
Far in some sheltering thicket lies
To frighten ere she meet our eyes.
Then come, renew thy labour, trace
The lady to her lurking-place,
And search the wood from side to side
To know where Sítá loves to bide.
Collect thy thoughts, O royal chief,
Nor yield to unavailing grief.”
Thus Lakshmaṇ, by attention stirred,
To fresh attempts his brother spurred,
And Ráma, as he ceased, began
With Lakshmaṇ's aid each spot to scan.
In eager search their way they took
Through wood, o'er hill, by pool and brook,
They roamed each mount, nor spared to seek
On ridge and crag and towering peak.
They sought the dame in every spot;
But all in vain; they found her not.
Above, below, on every side
They ranged the hill, and Ráma cried,
“O Lakshmaṇ, O my brother still
No trace of Sítá on the hill!”
Then Lakshmaṇ as he roamed the wood
Beside his glorious brother stood,
And while fierce grief his bosom burned
This answer to the chief returned:
“Thou, Ráma, after toil and pain
Wilt meet the Maithil dame again,
As Vishṇu, Bali's might subdued,
His empire of the earth renewed.”508
Then Ráma cried in mournful tone,
His spirit by his woe o'erthrown;
“The wood is searched from side to side,
No distant spot remains untried,
No lilied pool, no streamlet where
The lotus buds are fresh and fair.
Our eyes have searched the hill with all
His caves and every waterfall,—
But ah, not yet I find my wife,
More precious than the breath of life.”
As thus he mourned his vanished dame
A mighty trembling seized his frame,
And by o'erpowering grief assailed,
His troubled senses reeled and failed.
Too great to bear his misery grew,
And many a long hot sigh he drew,
Then as he wept and sobbed and sighed,
“O Sítá, O my love!” he cried.
Then Lakshmaṇ, joining palm to palm,
Tried every art his woe to calm.
But Ráma in his anguish heard
Or heeded not one soothing word,
Still for his spouse he mourned, and shrill
Rang out his lamentation still.

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