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Ramayana, Book 2, The

Canto LV. The Passage Of Yamuná.

The princely tamers of their foes
Thus passed the night in calm repose,
Then to the hermit having bent
With reverence, on their way they went.
High favour Bharadvája showed,
And blessed them ready for the road.
With such fond looks as fathers throw
On their own sons, before they go.
Then spake the saint with glory bright
To Ráma peerless in his might:
“First, lords of men, direct your feet
Where Yamuná and Gangá meet;
Then to the swift Kálindí330 go,
Whose westward waves to Gangá flow.
When thou shalt see her lovely shore
Worn by their feet who hasten o'er,
Then, Raghu's son, a raft prepare,
And cross the Sun born river there.
Upon her farther bank a tree,
Near to the landing wilt thou see.
The blessed source of varied gifts,
There her green boughs that Fig-tree lifts:
A tree where countless birds abide,
By Śyáma's name known far and wide.
Sítá, revere that holy shade:
There be thy prayers for blessing prayed.
Thence for a league your way pursue,
And a dark wood shall meet your view,
Where tall bamboos their foliage show,
The Gum-tree and the Jujube grow.
To Chitrakúṭa have I oft
Trodden that path so smooth and soft,
Where burning woods no traveller scare,
But all is pleasant, green, and fair.”
When thus the guests their road had learned,
Back to his cot the hermit turned,
And Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá paid
Their reverent thanks for courteous aid.
Thus Ráma spake to Lakshmaṇ, when
The saint had left the lords of men:
“Great store of bliss in sooth is ours
On whom his love the hermit showers.”
As each to other wisely talked,
The lion lords together walked
On to Kálindí's woody shore;
And gentle Sítá went before.
They reached that flood, whose waters flee
With rapid current to the sea;
Their minds a while to thought they gave
And counselled how to cross the wave.
At length, with logs together laid,
A mighty raft the brothers made.
Then dry bamboos across were tied,
And grass was spread from side to side.
And the great hero Lakshmaṇ brought
Cane and Rose-Apple boughs and wrought,
Trimming the branches smooth and neat,
For Sítá's use a pleasant seat.
And Ráma placed thereon his dame
Touched with a momentary shame,
Resembling in her glorious mien
All-thought-surpassing Fortune's Queen.
Then Ráma hastened to dispose,
Each in its place, the skins and bows,
And by the fair Videhan laid
The coats, the ornaments, and spade.
When Sítá thus was set on board,
And all their gear was duly stored,
The heroes each with vigorous hand,
Pushed off the raft and left the land.
When half its way the raft had made,
Thus Sítá to Kálindí prayed:
“Goddess, whose flood I traverse now,
Grant that my lord may keep his vow.
For thee shall bleed a thousand kine,
A hundred jars shall pour their wine,
When Ráma sees that town again
Where old Ikshváku's children reign.”
Thus to Kálindí's stream she sued
And prayed in suppliant attitude.
Then to the river's bank the dame,
Fervent in supplication, came.
They left the raft that brought them o'er,
And the thick wood that clothed the shore,
And to the Fig-tree Śyáma made
Their way, so cool with verdant shade.
Then Sítá viewed that best of trees,
And reverent spake in words like these:
“Hail, hail, O mighty tree! Allow
My husband to complete his vow;
Let us returning, I entreat,
Kauśalyá and Sumitrá meet.”
Then with her hands together placed
Around the tree she duly paced.
When Ráma saw his blameless spouse
A suppliant under holy boughs,
The gentle darling of his heart,
He thus to Lakshmaṇ spake apart:
“Brother, by thee our way be led;
Let Sítá close behind thee tread:
I, best of men, will grasp my bow,
And hindmost of the three will go.
What fruits soe'er her fancy take,
Or flowers half hidden in the brake,
For Janak's child forget not thou
To gather from the brake or bough.”
Thus on they fared. The tender dame
Asked Ráma, as they walked, the name
Of every shrub that blossoms bore,
Creeper, and tree unseen before:
And Lakshmaṇ fetched, at Sítá's prayer,
Boughs of each tree with clusters fair.
Then Janak's daughter joyed to see
The sand-discoloured river flee,
Where the glad cry of many a bird,
The sáras and the swan, was heard.
A league the brothers travelled through
The forest noble game they slew:
Beneath the trees their meal they dressed
And sat them down to eat and rest.
A while in that delightful shade
Where elephants unnumbered strayed,
Where peacocks screamed and monkeys played,
They wandered with delight.
Then by the river's side they found
A pleasant spot of level ground,
Where all was smooth and fair around,
Their lodging for the night.

Canto LVI. Chitrakúta

Then Ráma, when the morning rose,
Called Lakshmaṇ gently from repose:
“Awake, the pleasant voices hear
Of forest birds that warble near.
Scourge of thy foes, no longer stay;
The hour is come to speed away.”
The slumbering prince unclosed his eyes
When thus his brother bade him rise,
Compelling, at the timely cry,
Fatigue, and sleep, and rest to fly.
The brothers rose and Sítá too;
Pure water from the stream they drew,
Paid morning rites, then followed still
The road to Chitrakúṭa's hill.
Then Ráma as he took the road
With Lakshmaṇ, while the morning, glowed,
To the Videhan lady cried,
Sítá the fair, the lotus-eyed:
“Look round thee, dear; each flowery tree
Touched with the fire of morning see:
The Kinśuk, now the Frosts are fled,—
How glorious with his wreaths of red!
The Bel-trees see, so loved of men,
Hanging their boughs in every glen.
O'erburthened with their fruit and flowers:
A plenteous store of food is ours.
See, Lakshmaṇ, in the leafy trees,
Where'er they make their home.
Down hangs, the work of labouring bees
The ponderous honeycomb.
In the fair wood before us spread
The startled wild-cock cries:
Hark, where the flowers are soft to tread,
The peacock's voice replies.
Where elephants are roaming free,
And sweet birds' songs are loud,
The glorious Chitrakúṭa see:
His peaks are in the cloud.
On fair smooth ground he stands displayed,
Begirt by many a tree:
O brother, in that holy shade
How happy shall we be!”331
Then Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá, each
Spoke raising suppliant hands this speech
To him, in woodland dwelling met,
Válmíki, ancient anchoret:
“O Saint, this mountain takes the mind,
With creepers, trees of every kind,
With fruit and roots abounding thus,
A pleasant life it offers us:
Here for a while we fain would stay,
And pass a season blithe and gay.”
Then the great saint, in duty trained,
With honour gladly entertained:
He gave his guests a welcome fair,
And bade them sit and rest them there,
Ráma of mighty arm and chest
His faithful Lakshmaṇ then addressed:
“Brother, bring hither from the wood
Selected timber strong and good,
And build therewith a little cot;
My heart rejoices in the spot
That lies beneath the mountain's side,
Remote, with water well supplied.”
Sumitrá's son his words obeyed,
Brought many a tree, and deftly made,
With branches in the forest cut,
As Ráma bade, a leafy hut.
Then Ráma, when the cottage stood
Fair, firmly built, and walled with wood,
To Lakshmaṇ spake, whose eager mind
To do his brother's will inclined:
“Now, Lakshmaṇ as our cot is made,
Must sacrifice be duly paid
By us, for lengthened life who hope,
With venison of the antelope.
Away, O bright-eyed Lakshmaṇ, speed:
Struck by thy bow a deer must bleed:
As Scripture bids, we must not slight
The duty that commands the rite.”
Lakshmaṇ, the chief whose arrows laid
His foemen low, his word obeyed;
And Ráma thus again addressed
The swift performer of his hest:
“Prepare the venison thou hast shot,
To sacrifice for this our cot.
Haste, brother dear, for this the hour,
And this the day of certain power.”
Then glorious Lakshmaṇ took the buck
His arrow in the wood had struck;
Bearing his mighty load he came,
And laid it in the kindled flame.
Soon as he saw the meat was done,
And that the juices ceased to run
From the broiled carcass, Lakshmaṇ then
Spoke thus to Ráma best of men:
“The carcass of the buck, entire,
Is ready dressed upon the fire.
Now be the sacred rites begun
To please the God, thou godlike one.”
Ráma the good, in ritual trained,
Pure from the bath, with thoughts restrained,
Hasted those verses to repeat
Which make the sacrifice complete.
The hosts celestial came in view,
And Ráma to the cot withdrew,
While a sweet sense of rapture stole
Through the unequalled hero's soul.
He paid the Viśvedevas332 due.
And Rudra's right, and Vishṇu's too,
Nor wonted blessings, to protect
Their new-built home, did he neglect.
With voice repressed he breathed the prayer,
Bathed duly in the river fair,
And gave good offerings that remove
The stain of sin, as texts approve.
And many an altar there he made,
And shrines, to suit the holy shade,
All decked with woodland chaplets sweet,
And fruit and roots and roasted meat,
With muttered prayer, as texts require,
Water, and grass and wood and fire.
So Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá paid
Their offerings to each God and shade,
And entered then their pleasant cot
That bore fair signs of happy lot.
They entered, the illustrious three,
The well-set cottage, fair to see,
Roofed with the leaves of many a tree,
And fenced from wind and rain:
So, at their Father Brahmá's call,
The Gods of heaven, assembling all,
To their own glorious council hall
Advance in shining train.
So, resting on that lovely hill,
Near the fair lily-covered rill,
The happy prince forgot,
Surrounded by the birds and deer,
The woe, the longing, and the fear
That gloom the exile's lot.

Canto LVII. Sumantra's Return.

When Ráma reached the southern bank,
King Guha's heart with sorrow sank:
He with Sumantra talked, and spent
With his deep sorrow, homeward went.
Sumantra, as the king decreed,
Yoked to the car each noble steed,
And to Ayodhyá's city sped
With his sad heart disquieted.
On lake and brook and scented grove
His glances fell, as on he drove:
City and village came in view
As o'er the road his coursers flew.
On the third day the charioteer,
When now the hour of night was near,
Came to Ayodhyá's gate, and found
The city all in sorrow drowned.
To him, in spirit quite cast down,
Forsaken seemed the silent town,
And by the rush of grief oppressed
He pondered in his mournful breast:
“Is all Ayodhyá burnt with grief,
Steed, elephant, and man, and chief?
Does her loved Ráma's exile so
Afflict her with the fires of woe?”
Thus as he mused, his steeds flew fast,
And swiftly through the gate he passed.
On drove the charioteer, and then
In hundreds, yea in thousands, men
Ran to the car from every side,
And, “Ráma, where is Ráma?” cried.
Sumantra said: “My chariot bore
The duteous prince to Gangá's shore;
I left him there at his behest,
And homeward to Ayodhyá pressed.”
Soon as the anxious people knew
That he was o'er the flood they drew
Deep sighs, and crying, Ráma! all
Wailed, and big tears began to fall.
He heard the mournful words prolonged,
As here and there the people thronged:
“Woe, woe for us, forlorn, undone,
No more to look on Raghu's son!
His like again we ne'er shall see,
Of heart so true, of hand so free,
In gifts, in gatherings for debate,
When marriage pomps we celebrate,
What should we do? What earthly thing
Can rest, or hope, or pleasure bring?”
Thus the sad town, which Ráma kept
As a kind father, wailed and wept.
Each mansion, as the car went by,
Sent forth a loud and bitter cry,
As to the window every dame,
Mourning for banished Ráma, came.
As his sad eyes with tears o'erflowed,
He sped along the royal road
To Daśaratha's high abode.
There leaping down his car he stayed;
Within the gates his way he made;
Through seven broad courts he onward hied
Where people thronged on every side.
From each high terrace, wild with woe,
The royal ladies flocked below:
He heard them talk in gentle tone,
As each for Ráma made her moan:
“What will the charioteer reply
To Queen Kauśalyá's eager cry?
With Ráma from the gates he went;
Homeward alone, his steps are bent.
Hard is a life with woe distressed,
But difficult to win is rest,
If, when her son is banished, still
She lives beneath her load of ill.”
Such was the speech Sumantra heard
From them whom grief unfeigned had stirred.
As fires of anguish burnt him through,
Swift to the monarch's hall he drew,
Past the eighth court; there met his sight,
The sovereign in his palace bright,
Still weeping for his son, forlorn,
Pale, faint, and all with sorrow worn.
As there he sat, Sumantra bent
And did obeisance reverent,
And to the king repeated o'er
The message he from Ráma bore.
The monarch heard, and well-nigh brake
His heart, but yet no word he spake:
Fainting to earth he fell, and dumb,
By grief for Ráma overcome.
Rang through the hall a startling cry,
And women's arms were tossed on high,
When, with his senses all astray,
Upon the ground the monarch lay.
Kauśalyá, with Sumitrá's aid,
Raised from the ground her lord dismayed:
“Sire, of high fate,” she cried, “O, why
Dost thou no single word reply
To Ráma's messenger who brings
News of his painful wanderings?
The great injustice done, art thou
Shame-stricken for thy conduct now?
Rise up, and do thy part: bestow
Comfort and help in this our woe.
Speak freely, King; dismiss thy fear,
For Queen Kaikeyí stands not near,
Afraid of whom thou wouldst not seek
Tidings of Ráma: freely speak.”
When the sad queen had ended so,
She sank, insatiate in her woe,
And prostrate lay upon the ground,
While her faint voice by sobs was drowned.
When all the ladies in despair
Saw Queen Kauśalyá wailing there,
And the poor king oppressed with pain,
They flocked around and wept again.

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