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3.4: The Ramayana

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    The Ramayana

    Composed ca. 5th c. B.C.E. to 1st c. B.C.E.


    The Ramayana (“Journey of Rama”), one of the classics of ancient Indian literature, is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 7 books dating as far back as to the 5th c. BCE with additions as late as the 2nd c. BCE. Its authorship is attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki who appears in the epic as the hermit who gives Sita shelter after Rama banishes her. The Ramayana is the allegorical tale of the birth, childhood, and adult adventures of the eponymous Rama, who is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu and, along with his wife Sita, the embodiment of human virtue. The Ramayan of Valmiki is the 1870 verse translation by the 19th c. British scholar Ralph Griffith.

    Questions to consider while reading this selection:

    1. How is Rama the exemplum (morally upright model) of dharma?
    2. Consider the gender dynamics or balance of power in the Ramayana. What powers do men and women possess? How do men and women wield their powers?
    3. How does the story of the battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil play out? Aside from the hero and villain, who is obviously good and who is obviously evil? Are there any neutral characters? Does one’s species (animal, demon, human, god) have any effect of one’s moral alignment?
    4. Consider the villainous Ravana. How does the villain affect the narrative? Could the story address the concepts of good and evil without a specific villain?

    The Râmâyana of Valmiki

    Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, M.A.

    Edited and compiled by Rhonda L. Kelley, with Griffith’s footnotes

    Book I: Bala Kanda (“The Book of the Childhood”): Summary (\^{1}\)

    The origins and childhood of Rama. Sita’s birth, betrothal, and marriage to Rama.

    Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, had three wives Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Having been childless for a long time and anxious to produce an heir, he performs a fire sacrifice. As a consequence, Rama is born to Kausalya, Bharata is born to Kaikeyi, and the twins Lakshmana and Satrughna are born to Sumitra. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the Supreme God Vishnu; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana, who was oppressing the gods, and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. During their upbringing the princes receive instructions from the Vedas (scriptures) and in warfare. When Rama is 16 years old, the sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from the sage and destroy the demons.

    Janaka was the king of Mithila. One day, the king found a female child in the field in a deep furrow dug by his plough. King Janaka adopted the girl and named her Sita, the Sanskrit word for “furrow”. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. When Sita was of marriageable age, the king decided to have a swayamvara (\^{2}\) which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the Destroyer God Shiva: whoever could wield the bow could marry Sita. The sage Vishwamitra attends the swayamvara with Rama and Lakshmana. Only Rama is able to wield the bow and, when he draws the string, it breaks. Marriages are arranged between the sons of Dasharatha and daughters of Janaka. Rama marries Sita, and his brothers marry other brides from among the people of Mithila.

    Book II: Ayodhya Kanda (“The Book of Ayodhya”): Selections

    The preparations for Rama’s coronation in the city of Ayodhya, his exile into the forest, and the regency of Bharata.


    After Rama and Sita have been married for twelve years, an elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama king, to which the assembly and his subjects express their support. On the eve of the coronation, Dasharatha’s wife Kaikeyi—her jealousy aroused by Manthara, a wicked maidservant—claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her. Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into the wilderness for fourteen years and that the succession pass to her son Bharata. The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his oath, accedes to Kaikeyi’s demands. Rama accepts his father’s reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control, two of the virtues that characterize him throughout the story. Sita and his half-brother Lakshmana join him in his exile. After Rama’s departure, King Dasharatha, unable to bear the grief, passes away.

    Meanwhile, Bharata, who was visiting his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ajodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother’s wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. Rama, determined to carry out his father’s orders to the letter, refuses to return before the fourteen years are over. Bharata refuses to be king, instead styling himself “Regent” and keeping Rama’s sandals on the throne as symbolic of Rama’s status as the rightful king of Ayodhya.

    In the selections for this chapter, Cantos XVII-XVIX pick up the story as Rama approaches the throne for his coronation. In Cantos XXVI-XXXI, Rama has already accepted his exile and informs Sita he is leaving. Sita and Lakshmana request and are granted permission to go with him.

    Canto XVII. Rama’s Approach.

    As Rama, rendering blithe and gay
    His loving friends, pursued his way,
    He saw on either hand a press
    Of mingled people numberless.
    The royal street he traversed, where
    Incense of aloe filled the air,
    Where rose high palaces, that vied
    With paly clouds, on either side;
    With flowers of myriad colours graced.
    And food for every varied taste,
    Bright as the glowing path o’erhead
    Which feet of Gods celestial tread,
    Loud benedictions, sweet to hear,
    From countless voices soothed his ear.
    While he to each gave due salute
    His place and dignity to suit:
    “Be thou,” the joyful people cried,
    “Be thou our guardian, lord and guide.
    Throned and anointed king to-day,
    Thy feet set forth upon the way
    Wherein, each honoured as a God,
    Thy fathers and forefathers trod.
    Thy sire and his have graced the throne,
    And loving care to us have shown:
    Thus blest shall we and ours remain,
    Yea still more blest in Rama’s reign.
    No more of dainty fare we need,
    And but one cherished object heed,
    That we may see our prince today
    Invested with imperial sway.”

    Such were the words and pleasant speech
    That Rama heard, unmoved, from each
    Of the dear friends around him spread,
    As onward through the street he sped,
    For none could turn his eye or thought
    From the dear form his glances sought,
    With fruitless ardour forward cast
    Even when Raghu’s son (\^{3}\) had past.
    And he who saw not Rama nigh,
    Nor caught a look from Rama’s eye,
    A mark for scorn and general blame,
    Reproached himself in bitter shame.
    For to each class his equal mind
    With sympathy and love inclined
    Most fully of the princely four,
    So greatest love to him they bore.

    His circling course the hero bent
    Round shrine and altar, reverent,
    Round homes of Gods, where cross-roads met,
    Where many a sacred tree was set.
    Near to his father’s house he drew
    Like Indra’s (\^{4}\) beautiful to view,
    And with the light his glory gave
    Within the royal palace drave.
    Through three broad courts, where bowmen kept
    Their watch and ward, his coursers swept,
    Then through the two remaining went
    On foot the prince preeminent.
    Through all the courts the hero passed,
    And gained the ladies’ bower at last;
    Then through the door alone withdrew,
    And left without his retinue.
    When thus the monarch’s noble boy
    Had gone his sire to meet,
    The multitude, elate with joy,
    Stood watching in the street,
    And his return with eager eyes
    Expected at the gates,
    As for his darling moon to rise
    The King of Rivers (\^{5}\) waits.

    Canto XVIII. The Sentence.

    With hopeless eye and pallid mien
    There sat the monarch with the queen.
    His father’s feet with reverence due
    He clasped, and touched Kaikeyi’s (\^{6}\) too.
    The king, with eyes still brimming o’er,
    Cried “Rama!” and could do no more.
    His voice was choked, his eye was dim,
    He could not speak or look on him.
    Then sudden fear made Rama shake
    As though his foot had roused a snake,
    Soon as his eyes had seen the change
    So mournful, terrible, and strange.
    For there his reason well-nigh fled,
    Sighing, with soul disquieted,
    To torturing pangs a prey,
    Dismayed, despairing, and distraught,
    In a fierce whirl of wildering thought
    The hapless monarch lay,
    Like Ocean wave-engarlanded
    Storm-driven from his tranquil bed,
    The Sun-God in eclipse,
    Or like a holy seer, heart-stirred
    With anguish, when a lying word
    Has passed his heedless lips.
    The sight of his dear father, pained
    With woe and misery unexplained
    Filled Rama with unrest,
    As Ocean’s pulses rise and swell
    When the great moon he loves so well
    Shines full upon his breast.

    So grieving for his father’s sake,
    To his own heart the hero spake:
    “Why will the king my sire to-day
    No kindly word of greeting say?
    At other times, though wroth he be,
    His eyes grow calm that look on me.
    Then why does anguish wring his brow
    To see his well-beloved now?”
    Sick and perplexed, distraught with woe,
    To Queen Kaikeyi bowing low,
    While pallor o’er his bright cheek spread,
    With humble reverence he said:
    “What have I done, unknown, amiss
    To make my father wroth like this?
    Declare it, O dear Queen, and win
    His pardon for my heedless sin.
    Why is the sire I ever find
    Filled with all love to-day unkind?
    With eyes cast down and pallid cheek
    This day alone he will not speak.
    Or lies he prostrate neath the blow
    Of fierce disease or sudden woe?
    For all our bliss is dashed with pain,
    And joy unmixt is hard to gain.
    Does stroke of evil fortune smite
    Dear Bharat, charming to the sight,
    Or on the brave Satrughna (\^{7}\) fall,
    Or consorts, for he loves them all?
    Against his words when I rebel,
    Or fail to please the monarch well,
    When deeds of mine his soul offend,
    That hour I pray my life may end.
    How should a man to him who gave
    His being and his life behave?
    The sire to whom he owes his birth
    Should be his deity on earth.
    Hast thou, by pride and folly moved,
    With bitter taunt the king reproved?
    Has scorn of thine or cruel jest
    To passion stirred his gentle breast?
    Speak truly, Queen, that I may know
    What cause has changed the monarch so.”

    Thus by the high-souled prince addressed,
    Of Raghu’s sons the chief and best,
    She cast all ruth (\^{8}\) and shame aside,
    And bold with greedy words replied:
    “Not wrath, O Rama, stirs the king,
    Nor misery stabs with sudden sting;
    One thought that fills his soul has he,
    But dares not speak for fear of thee.
    Thou art so dear, his lips refrain
    From words that might his darling pain.
    But thou, as duty bids, must still
    The promise of thy sire fulfil.
    He who to me in days gone by
    Vouchsafed a boon with honours high,
    Dares now, a king, his word regret,
    And caitiff-like disowns the debt.
    The lord of men his promise gave
    To grant the boon that I might crave,
    And now a bridge would idly throw
    When the dried stream has ceased to flow.
    His faith the monarch must not break
    In wrath, or e’en for thy dear sake.
    From faith, as well the righteous know,
    Our virtue and our merits flow.
    Now, be they good or be they ill,
    Do thou thy father’s words fulfil:
    Swear that his promise shall not fail,
    And I will tell thee all the tale.
    Yes, Rama, when I hear that thou
    Hast bound thee by thy father’s vow,
    Then, not till then, my lips shall speak,
    Nor will he tell what boon I seek.”

    He heard, and with a troubled breast
    This answer to the queen addressed:
    “Ah me, dear lady, canst thou deem
    That words like these thy lips beseem?
    I, at the bidding of my sire,
    Would cast my body to the fire,
    A deadly draught of poison drink,
    Or in the waves of ocean sink:
    If he command, it shall be done,—
    My father and my king in one.
    Then speak and let me know the thing
    So longed for by my lord the king.
    It shall be done: let this suffice;
    Rama ne’er makes a promise twice.”

    He ended. To the princely youth
    Who loved the right and spoke the truth,
    Cruel, abominable came
    The answer of the ruthless dame:
    “When Gods and Titans fought of yore,
    Transfixed with darts and bathed in gore
    Two boons to me thy father gave
    For the dear life ‘twas mine to save.
    Of him I claim the ancient debt,
    That Bharat on the throne be set,
    And thou, O Rama, go this day
    To Dandak forest far away.
    Now, Rama, if thou wilt maintain
    Thy father’s faith without a stain,
    And thine own truth and honour clear,
    Then, best of men, my bidding hear.
    Do thou thy father’s word obey,
    Nor from the pledge he gave me stray.
    Thy life in Dandak forest spend
    Till nine long years and five shall end.
    Upon my Bharat’s princely head

    Let consecrating drops be shed,
    With all the royal pomp for thee
    Made ready by the king’s decree.
    Seek Dandak forest and resign
    Rites that would make the empire thine,
    For twice seven years of exile wear
    The coat of bark and matted hair.
    Then in thy stead let Bharat reign
    Lord of his royal sire’s domain,
    Rich in the fairest gems that shine,
    Cars, elephants, and steeds, and kine (\^{9}\).
    The monarch mourns thy altered fate
    And vails his brow compassionate:
    Bowed down by bitter grief he lies
    And dares not lift to thine his eyes.
    Obey his word: be firm and brave,
    And with great truth the monarch save.”
    While thus with cruel words she spoke,
    No grief the noble youth betrayed;
    But forth the father’s anguish broke,
    At his dear Rama’s lot dismayed.

    Canto XIX. Rama’s Promise.

    Calm and unmoved by threatened woe
    The noble conqueror of the foe
    Answered the cruel words she spoke,
    Nor quailed beneath the murderous stroke:
    “Yea, for my father’s promise sake
    I to the wood my way will take,
    And dwell a lonely exile there
    In hermit dress with matted hair.
    One thing alone I fain would learn,
    Why is the king this day so stern?
    Why is the scourge of foes so cold,
    Nor gives me greeting as of old?
    Now let not anger flush thy cheek:
    Before thy face the truth I speak,
    In hermit’s coat with matted hair
    To the wild wood will I repair.
    How can I fail his will to do,
    Friend, master, grateful sovereign too?
    One only pang consumes my breast:
    That his own lips have not expressed
    His will, nor made his longing known
    That Bharat should ascend the throne.
    To Bharat I would yield my wife,
    My realm and wealth, mine own dear life,
    Unasked I fain would yield them all:
    More gladly at my father’s call,
    More gladly when the gift may free
    His honour and bring joy to thee.
    Thus, lady, his sad heart release
    From the sore shame, and give him peace.
    But tell me, O, I pray thee, why
    The lord of men, with downcast eye,
    Lies prostrate thus, and one by one
    Down his pale cheek the tear-drops run.
    Let couriers to thy father speed
    On horses of the swiftest breed,
    And, by the mandate of the king,
    Thy Bharat to his presence bring.
    My father’s words I will not stay
    To question, but this very day
    To Dandak’s pathless wild will fare,
    For twice seven years an exile there.”

    When Rama thus had made reply
    Kaikeyi’s heart with joy beat high.
    She, trusting to the pledge she held,
    The youth’s departure thus impelled:
    “‘Tis well. Be messengers despatched
    On coursers ne’er for fleetness matched,
    To seek my father’s home and lead
    My Bharat back with all their speed.
    And, Rama, as I ween that thou
    Wilt scarce endure to linger now,
    So surely it were wise and good
    This hour to journey to the wood.
    And if, with shame cast down and weak,
    No word to thee the king can speak,
    Forgive, and from thy mind dismiss
    A trifle in an hour like this.
    But till thy feet in rapid haste
    Have left the city for the waste,
    And to the distant forest fled,
    He will not bathe nor call for bread.”

    “Woe! woe!” from the sad monarch burst,
    In surging floods of grief immersed;
    Then swooning, with his wits astray,
    Upon the gold-wrought couch he lay,
    And Rama raised the aged king:
    But the stern queen, unpitying,
    Checked not her needless words, nor spared
    The hero for all speed prepared,
    But urged him with her bitter tongue,
    Like a good horse with lashes stung,
    She spoke her shameful speech. Serene
    He heard the fury of the queen,
    And to her words so vile and dread
    Gently, unmoved in mind, he said:
    “I would not in this world remain
    A grovelling thrall to paltry gain,
    But duty’s path would fain pursue,
    True as the saints themselves are true.
    From death itself I would not fly
    My father’s wish to gratify,
    What deed soe’er his loving son
    May do to please him, think it done.
    Amid all duties, Queen, I count
    This duty first and paramount,
    That sons, obedient, aye fulfil
    Their honoured fathers’ word and will.

    Without his word, if thou decree,
    Forth to the forest will I flee,
    And there shall fourteen years be spent
    Mid lonely wilds in banishment.
    Methinks thou couldst not hope to find
    One spark of virtue in my mind,
    If thou, whose wish is still my lord,
    Hast for this grace the king implored.
    This day I go, but, ere we part,
    Must cheer my Sita’s tender heart,
    To my dear mother bid farewell;
    Then to the woods, a while to dwell.
    With thee, O Queen, the care must rest
    That Bharat hear his sire’s behest,
    And guard the land with righteous sway,
    For such the law that lives for aye.”

    In speechless woe the father heard,
    Wept with loud cries, but spoke no word.
    Then Rama touched his senseless feet,
    And hers, for honour most unmeet;
    Round both his circling steps he bent,
    Then from the bower the hero went.
    Soon as he reached the gate he found
    His dear companions gathered round.
    Behind him came Sumitra’s child
    With weeping eyes so sad and wild.
    Then saw he all that rich array
    Of vases for the glorious day.
    Round them with reverent stops he paced,
    Nor vailed his eye, nor moved in haste.
    The loss of empire could not dim
    The glory that encompassed him.
    So will the Lord of Cooling Rays (\^{10}\)
    On whom the world delights to gaze,
    Through the great love of all retain
    Sweet splendour in the time of wane.
    Now to the exile’s lot resigned
    He left the rule of earth behind:
    As though all worldly cares he spurned
    No trouble was in him discerned.
    The chouries (\^{11}\) that for kings are used,
    And white umbrella, he refused,
    Dismissed his chariot and his men,
    And every friend and citizen.
    He ruled his senses, nor betrayed
    The grief that on his bosom weighed,
    And thus his mother’s mansion sought
    To tell the mournful news he brought.
    Nor could the gay-clad people there
    Who flocked round Rama true and fair,
    One sign of altered fortune trace
    Upon the splendid hero’s face.
    Nor had the chieftain, mighty-armed,
    Lost the bright look all hearts that charmed,

    As e’en from autumn moons is thrown
    A splendour which is all their own.
    With his sweet voice the hero spoke
    Saluting all the gathered folk,
    Then righteous-souled and great in fame
    Close to his mother’s house he came.
    Lakshman the brave, his brother’s peer
    In princely virtues, followed near,
    Sore troubled, but resolved to show
    No token of his secret woe.
    Thus to the palace Rama went
    Where all were gay with hope and joy;
    But well he knew the dire event
    That hope would mar, that bliss destroy.
    So to his grief he would not yield
    Lest the sad change their hearts might rend,
    And, the dread tiding unrevealed,
    Spared from the blow each faithful friend.

    [Cantos XX-XXV: Rama bids farewell to his father and mother]

    Canto XXVI. Alone With Sita.

    So Rama, to his purpose true,
    To Queen Kausalya (\^{12}\) bade adieu,
    Received the benison she gave,
    And to the path of duty clave.
    As through the crowded street he passed,
    A radiance on the way he cast,
    And each fair grace, by all approved,
    The bosoms of the people moved.

    Now of the woeful change no word
    The fair Videhan (\{13}\) bride had heard;
    The thought of that imperial rite
    Still filled her bosom with delight.
    With grateful heart and joyful thought
    The Gods in worship she had sought,
    And, well in royal duties learned,
    Sat longing till her lord returned,
    Not all unmarked by grief and shame
    Within his sumptuous home he came,
    And hurried through the happy crowd
    With eye dejected, gloomy-browed.
    Up Sita sprang, and every limb
    Trembled with fear at sight of him.
    She marked that cheek where anguish fed,
    Those senses care-disquieted.
    For, when he looked on her, no more
    Could his heart hide the load it bore,
    Nor could the pious chief control
    The paleness o’er his cheek that stole.
    His altered cheer, his brow bedewed
    With clammy drops, his grief she viewed,
    And cried, consumed with fires of woe,
    “What, O my lord, has changed thee so?

    Vrihaspati (\^{14}\) looks down benign,
    And the moon rests in Pushya’s sign, (\^{15}\)
    As Brahmans (\^{16}\) sage this day declare:
    Then whence, my lord, this grief and care?
    Why does no canopy, like foam
    For its white beauty, shade thee home,
    Its hundred ribs spread wide to throw
    Splendour on thy fair head below?
    Where are the royal fans, to grace
    The lotus beauty of thy face,
    Fair as the moon or wild-swan’s wing,
    And waving round the new-made king?
    Why do no sweet-toned bards rejoice
    To hail thee with triumphant voice?
    No tuneful heralds love to raise
    Loud music in their monarch’s praise?
    Why do no Brahmans, Scripture-read,
    Pour curds and honey on thy head,
    Anointed, as the laws ordain,
    With holy rites, supreme to reign?
    Where are the chiefs of every guild?
    Where are the myriads should have filled
    The streets, and followed home their king
    With merry noise and triumphing?
    Why does no gold-wrought chariot lead
    With four brave horses, best for speed?
    No elephant precede the crowd
    Like a huge hill or thunder cloud,
    Marked from his birth for happy fate,
    Whom signs auspicious decorate?
    Why does no henchman, young and fair,
    Precede thee, and delight to bear
    Entrusted to his reverent hold
    The burthen of thy throne of gold?
    Why, if the consecrating rite
    Be ready, why this mournful plight?
    Why do I see this sudden change,
    This altered mien so sad and strange?”

    To her, as thus she weeping cried,
    Raghu’s illustrious son replied:
    “Sita, my honoured sire’s decree
    Commands me to the woods to flee.
    O high-born lady, nobly bred
    In the good paths thy footsteps tread,
    Hear, Janak’s (\^{17}\) daughter, while I tell
    The story as it all befell.
    Of old my father true and brave
    Two boons to Queen Kaikeyi gave.
    Through these the preparations made
    For me to-day by her are stayed,
    For he is bound to disallow
    This promise by that earlier vow.

    In Dandak forest wild and vast
    Must fourteen years by me be passed.
    My father’s will makes Bharat heir,
    The kingdom and the throne to share.
    Now, ere the lonely wild I seek,
    I come once more with thee to speak.
    In Bharat’s presence, O my dame,
    Ne’er speak with pride of Rama’s name:
    Another’s eulogy to hear
    Is hateful to a monarch’s ear.
    Thou must with love his rule obey
    To whom my father yields the sway.
    With love and sweet observance learn
    His grace, and more the king’s, to earn.
    Now, that my father may not break
    The words of promise that he spake,
    To the drear wood my steps are bent:
    Be firm, good Sita, and content.
    Through all that time, my blameless spouse,
    Keep well thy fasts and holy vows.
    Rise from thy bed at break of day,
    And to the Gods due worship pay.
    With meek and lowly love revere
    The lord of men, my father dear,
    And reverence to Kausalya show,
    My mother, worn with eld (\^{18}\) and woe:
    By duty’s law, O best of dames,
    High worship from thy love she claims,
    Nor to the other queens refuse
    Observance, rendering each her dues:
    By love and fond attention shown
    They are my mothers like mine own.
    Let Bharat and Satrughna bear
    In thy sweet love a special share:
    Dear as my life, O let them be
    Like brother and like son to thee.
    In every word and deed refrain
    From aught that Bharat’s soul may pain:
    He is Ayodhya’s king and mine,
    The head and lord of all our line.
    For those who serve and love them much
    With weariless endeavour, touch
    And win the gracious hearts of kings.
    While wrath from disobedience springs.
    Great monarchs from their presence send
    Their lawful sons who still offend,
    And welcome to the vacant place
    Good children of an alien race.
    Then, best of women, rest thou here,
    And Bharat’s will with love revere.
    Obedient to thy king remain,
    And still thy vows of truth maintain.
    To the wide wood my steps I bend:
    Make thou thy dwelling here;
    See that thy conduct ne’er offend,
    And keep my words, my dear.”

    Canto XXVII. Sita’s Speech.

    His sweetly-speaking bride, who best
    Deserved her lord, he thus addressed.
    Then tender love bade passion wake,
    And thus the fair Videhan spake:
    “What words are these that thou hast said?
    Contempt of me the thought has bred.
    O best of heroes, I dismiss
    With bitter scorn a speech like this:

    Unworthy of a warrior’s fame
    It taints a monarch’s son with shame,
    Ne’er to be heard from those who know
    The science of the sword and bow.
    My lord, the mother, sire, and son
    Receive their lots by merit won;
    The brother and the daughter find
    The portions to their deeds assigned.
    The wife alone, whate’er await,
    Must share on earth her husband’s fate.
    So now the king’s command which sends
    Thee to the wild, to me extends.
    The wife can find no refuge, none,
    In father, mother, self, or son:
    Both here, and when they vanish hence,
    Her husband is her sole defence.
    If, Raghu’s son, thy steps are led
    Where Dandak’s pathless wilds are spread,
    My foot before thine own shall pass
    Through tangled thorn and matted grass.
    Dismiss thine anger and thy doubt:
    Like refuse water cast them out,
    And lead me, O my hero, hence—
    I know not sin—with confidence.
    Whate’er his lot, ‘tis far more sweet
    To follow still a husband’s feet
    Than in rich palaces to lie,
    Or roam at pleasure through the sky.
    My mother and my sire have taught
    What duty bids, and trained each thought,
    Nor have I now mine ear to turn
    The duties of a wife to learn.
    I’ll seek with thee the woodland dell
    And pathless wild where no men dwell,
    Where tribes of silvan (\^{19}\) creatures roam,
    And many a tiger makes his home.
    My life shall pass as pleasant there
    As in my father’s palace fair.
    The worlds shall wake no care in me;
    My only care be truth to thee.
    There while thy wish I still obey,
    True to my vows with thee I’ll stray,
    And there shall blissful hours be spent
    In woods with honey redolent.
    In forest shades thy mighty arm
    Would keep a stranger’s life from harm,
    And how shall Sita think of fear
    When thou, O glorious lord, art near?
    Heir of high bliss, my choice is made,
    Nor can I from my will be stayed.
    Doubt not; the earth will yield me roots,
    These will I eat, and woodland fruits;
    And as with thee I wander there
    I will not bring thee grief or care.
    I long, when thou, wise lord, art nigh,
    All fearless, with delighted eye
    To gaze upon the rocky hill,
    The lake, the fountain, and the rill;
    To sport with thee, my limbs to cool,
    In some pure lily-covered pool,
    While the white swan’s and mallard’s wings
    Are plashing in the water-springs.
    So would a thousand seasons flee
    Like one sweet day, if spent with thee.
    Without my lord I would not prize
    A home with Gods above the skies:
    Without my lord, my life to bless,
    Where could be heaven or happiness?
    Forbid me not: with thee I go
    The tangled wood to tread.
    There will I live with thee, as though
    This roof were o’er my head.
    My will for thine shall be resigned;
    Thy feet my steps shall guide.
    Thou, only thou, art in my mind:
    I heed not all beside.
    Thy heart shall ne’er by me be grieved;
    Do not my prayer deny:
    Take me, dear lord; of thee bereaved
    Thy Sita swears to die.”
    These words the duteous lady spake,
    Nor would he yet consent
    His faithful wife with him to take
    To share his banishment.
    He soothed her with his gentle speech;
    To change her will he strove;
    And much he said the woes to teach
    Of those in wilds who rove.

    Canto XXVIII. The Dangers Of The Wood.

    Thus Sita spake, and he who knew
    His duty, to its orders true,
    Was still reluctant as the woes
    Of forest life before him rose.
    He sought to soothe her grief, to dry
    The torrent from each brimming eye,
    And then, her firm resolve to shake,
    These words the pious hero spake:

    “O daughter of a noble line,
    Whose steps from virtue ne’er decline,
    Remain, thy duties here pursue,
    As my fond heart would have thee do.
    Now hear me, Sita, fair and weak,
    And do the words that I shall speak.
    Attend and hear while I explain
    Each danger in the wood, each pain.
    Thy lips have spoken: I condemn
    The foolish words that fell from them.
    This senseless plan, this wish of thine
    To live a forest life, resign.
    The names of trouble and distress
    Suit well the tangled wilderness.
    In the wild wood no joy I know,
    A forest life is nought but woe.
    The lion in his mountain cave
    Answers the torrents as they rave,
    And forth his voice of terror throws:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.

    There mighty monsters fearless play,
    And in their maddened onset slay
    The hapless wretch who near them goes:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    ‘Tis hard to ford each treacherous flood,
    So thick with crocodiles and mud,
    Where the wild elephants repose:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    Or far from streams the wanderer strays
    Through thorns and creeper-tangled ways,
    While round him many a wild-cock crows:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    On the cold ground upon a heap
    Of gathered leaves condemned to sleep,
    Toil-wearied, will his eyelids close:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    Long days and nights must he content
    His soul with scanty aliment,
    What fruit the wind from branches blows:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    O Sita, while his strength may last,
    The ascetic in the wood must fast,
    Coil on his head his matted hair,
    And bark must be his only wear.
    To Gods and spirits day by day
    The ordered worship he must pay,
    And honour with respectful care
    Each wandering guest who meets him there.
    The bathing rites he ne’er must shun
    At dawn, at noon, at set of sun,
    Obedient to the law he knows:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    To grace the altar must be brought
    The gift of flowers his hands have sought—
    The debt each pious hermit owes:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    The devotee must be content
    To live, severely abstinent,
    On what the chance of fortune shows:

    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    Hunger afflicts him evermore:
    The nights are black, the wild winds roar;
    And there are dangers worse than those:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    There creeping things in every form
    Infest the earth, the serpents swarm,
    And each proud eye with fury glows:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    The snakes that by the rives hide
    In sinuous course like rivers glide,
    And line the path with deadly foes:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    Scorpions, and grasshoppers, and flies
    Disturb the wanderer as he lies,
    And wake him from his troubled doze:
    The wood, my love, is full of woes.
    Trees, thorny bushes, intertwined,
    Their branched ends together bind,
    And dense with grass the thicket grows:
    The wood, my dear, is full of woes,
    With many ills the flesh is tried,
    When these and countless fears beside
    Vex those who in the wood remain:
    The wilds are naught but grief and pain.
    Hope, anger must be cast aside,
    To penance every thought applied:
    No fear must be of things to fear:
    Hence is the wood forever drear.
    Enough, my love: thy purpose quit:
    For forest life thou art not fit.
    As thus I think on all, I see
    The wild wood is no place for thee.”

    Canto XXIX. Sita’s Appeal.

    Thus Rama spake. Her lord’s address
    The lady heard with deep distress,
    And, as the tear bedimmed her eye,
    In soft low accents made reply:
    “The perils of the wood, and all
    The woes thou countest to appal,
    Led by my love I deem not pain;
    Each woe a charm, each loss a gain.
    Tiger, and elephant, and deer,
    Bull, lion, buffalo, in fear,
    Soon as thy matchless form they see,
    With every silvan beast will flee.
    With thee, O Rama, I must go:
    My sire’s command ordains it so.
    Bereft of thee, my lonely heart
    Must break, and life and I must part.
    While thou, O mighty lord, art nigh,
    Not even He who rules the sky,
    Though He is strongest of the strong,
    With all his might can do me wrong.
    Nor can a lonely woman left
    By her dear husband live bereft.
    In my great love, my lord, I ween,
    The truth of this thou mayst have seen.
    In my sire’s palace long ago
    I heard the chief of those who know,
    The truth-declaring Brahmans, tell
    My fortune, in the wood to dwell.
    I heard their promise who divine
    The future by each mark and sign,
    And from that hour have longed to lead
    The forest life their lips decreed.
    Now, mighty Rama, I must share
    Thy father’s doom which sends thee there;
    In this I will not be denied,
    But follow, love, where thou shalt guide.
    O husband, I will go with thee,
    Obedient to that high decree.
    Now let the Brahmans’ words be true,
    For this the time they had in view.
    I know full well the wood has woes;
    But they disturb the lives of those
    Who in the forest dwell, nor hold
    Their rebel senses well controlled.
    In my sire’s halls, ere I was wed,
    I heard a dame who begged her bread
    Before my mother’s face relate
    What griefs a forest life await.
    And many a time in sport I prayed
    To seek with thee the greenwood shade,
    For O, my heart on this is set,
    To follow thee, dear anchoret.
    May blessings on thy life attend:
    I long with thee my steps to bend,
    For with such hero as thou art
    This pilgrimage enchants my heart.
    Still close, my lord, to thy dear side
    My spirit will be purified:
    Love from all sin my soul will free:
    My husband is a God to me.
    So, love, with thee shall I have bliss
    And share the life that follows this.
    I heard a Brahman, dear to fame,
    This ancient Scripture text proclaim:
    “The woman whom on earth below
    Her parents on a man bestow,
    And lawfully their hands unite
    With water and each holy rite,
    She in this world shall be his wife,
    His also in the afterlife.”
    Then tell me, O beloved, why
    Thou wilt this earnest prayer deny,
    Nor take me with thee to the wood,
    Thine own dear wife so true and good.
    But if thou wilt not take me there
    Thus grieving in my wild despair,
    To fire or water I will fly,
    Or to the poisoned draught, and die.”
    So thus to share his exile, she
    Besought him with each earnest plea,
    Nor could she yet her lord persuade
    To take her to the lonely shade.
    The answer of the strong-armed chief
    Smote the Videhan’s soul with grief,
    And from her eyes the torrents came
    bathing the bosom of the dame.

    Canto XXX. The Triumph Of Love.

    The daughter of Videha’s king,
    While Rama strove to soothe the sting
    Of her deep anguish, thus began
    Once more in furtherance of her plan:
    And with her spirit sorely tried
    By fear and anger, love and pride,
    With keenly taunting words addressed
    Her hero of the stately breast:
    “Why did the king my sire, who reigns
    O’er fair Videha’s wide domains,
    Hail Rama son with joy unwise,
    A woman in a man’s disguise?
    Now falsely would the people say,
    By idle fancies led astray,
    That Rama’s own are power and might,
    As glorious as the Lord of Light.
    Why sinkest thou in such dismay?
    What fears upon thy spirit weigh,
    That thou, O Rama, fain wouldst flee
    From her who thinks of naught but thee?
    To thy dear will am I resigned
    In heart and body, soul and mind,
    As Savitri (\^{20}\) gave all to one,
    Satyavan, Dyumatsena’s son.
    Not e’en in fancy can I brook
    To any guard save thee to look:
    Let meaner wives their houses shame,
    To go with thee is all my claim.
    Like some low actor, deemst thou fit
    Thy wife to others to commit—
    Thine own, espoused in maiden youth,
    Thy wife so long, unblamed for truth?
    Do thou, my lord, his will obey
    For whom thou losest royal sway,
    To whom thou wouldst thy wife confide—
    Not me, but thee, his wish may guide.
    Thou must not here thy wife forsake,
    And to the wood thy journey make,
    Whether stern penance, grief, and care,
    Or rule or heaven await thee there.
    Nor shall fatigue my limbs distress
    When wandering in the wilderness:
    Each path which near to thee I tread
    Shall seem a soft luxurious bed.
    The reeds, the bushes where I pass,
    The thorny trees, the tangled grass
    Shall feel, if only thou be near,
    Soft to my touch as skins of deer.
    When the rude wind in fury blows,
    And scattered dust upon me throws,
    That dust, beloved lord, to me
    Shall as the precious sandal be.
    And what shall be more blest than I,
    When gazing on the wood I lie
    In some green glade upon a bed
    With sacred grass beneath us spread?
    The root, the leaf, the fruit which thou
    Shalt give me from the earth or bough,
    Scanty or plentiful, to eat,
    Shall taste to me as Amrit sweet.
    As there I live on flowers and roots
    And every season’s kindly fruits,
    I will not for my mother grieve,
    My sire, my home, or all I leave.
    My presence, love, shall never add
    One pain to make the heart more sad;
    I will not cause thee grief or care,
    Nor be a burden hard to bear.
    With thee is heaven, where’er the spot;
    Each place is hell where thou art not.
    Then go with me, O Rama; this
    Is all my hope and all my bliss.
    If thou wilt leave thy wife who still
    Entreats thee with undaunted will,
    This very day shall poison close
    The life that spurns the rule of foes.
    How, after, can my soul sustain
    The bitter life of endless pain,
    When thy dear face, my lord, I miss?
    No, death is better far than this.
    Not for an hour could I endure
    The deadly grief that knows not cure,
    Far less a woe I could not shun
    For ten long years, and three, and one.”

    While fires of woe consumed her, such
    Her sad appeal, lamenting much;
    Then with a wild cry, anguish-wrung,
    About her husband’s neck she clung.
    Like some she-elephant who bleeds
    Struck by the hunter’s venomed reeds,
    So in her quivering heart she felt
    The many wounds his speeches dealt.
    Then, as the spark from wood is gained, (\^{21}\)
    Down rolled the tear so long restrained:
    The crystal moisture, sprung from woe,
    From her sweet eyes began to flow,
    As runs the water from a pair
    Of lotuses divinely fair.
    And Sita’s face with long dark eyes,
    Pure as the moon of autumn skies,
    Faded with weeping, as the buds
    Of lotuses when sink the floods.
    Around his wife his arms he strained,
    Who senseless from her woe remained,
    And with sweet words, that bade her wake
    To life again, the hero spake:
    “I would not with thy woe, my Queen,
    Buy heaven and all its blissful sheen.
    Void of all fear am I as He,
    The self-existent God, can be.
    I knew not all thy heart till now,
    Dear lady of the lovely brow,
    So wished not thee in woods to dwell;
    Yet there mine arm can guard thee well.
    Now surely thou, dear love, wast made
    To dwell with me in green wood shade.
    And, as a high saint’s tender mind
    Clings to its love for all mankind,
    So I to thee will ever cling,
    Sweet daughter of Videha’s king.
    The good, of old, O soft of frame,
    Honoured this duty’s sovereign claim,
    And I its guidance will not shun,
    True as light’s Queen is to the Sun.
    I cannot, pride of Janak’s line,
    This journey to the wood decline:
    My sire’s behest, the oath he sware,
    The claims of truth, all lead me there.
    One duty, dear the same for aye,
    Is sire and mother to obey:
    Should I their orders once transgress
    My very life were weariness.
    If glad obedience be denied
    To father, mother, holy guide,
    What rites, what service can be done
    That stern Fate’s favour may be won?
    These three the triple world comprise,
    O darling of the lovely eyes.
    Earth has no holy thing like these
    Whom with all love men seek to please.
    Not truth, or gift, or bended knee,
    Not honour, worship, lordly fee,
    Storms heaven and wins a blessing thence
    Like sonly love and reverence.
    Heaven, riches, grain, and varied lore,
    With sons and many a blessing more,
    All these are made their own with ease
    By those their elders’ souls who please.
    The mighty-souled, who ne’er forget,
    Devoted sons, their filial debt,
    Win worlds where Gods and minstrels are,
    And Brahma’s sphere more glorious far.
    Now as the orders of my sire,
    Who keeps the way of truth, require,
    So will I do, for such the way
    Of duty that endures for aye:
    To take thee, love, to Dandak’s wild
    My heart at length is reconciled,
    For thee such earnest thoughts impel
    To follow, and with me to dwell.
    O faultless form from feet to brows,
    Come with me, as my will allows,
    And duty there with me pursue,
    Trembler, whose bright eyes thrill me through.
    In all thy days, come good come ill,
    Preserve unchanged such noble will,
    And thou, dear love, wilt ever be
    The glory of thy house and me.
    Now, beauteous-armed, begin the tasks
    The woodland life of hermits asks.
    For me the joys of heaven above
    Have charms no more without thee, love.
    And now, dear Sita, be not slow:
    Food on good mendicants bestow,
    And for the holy Brahmans bring
    Thy treasures and each precious thing.
    Thy best attire and gems collect,
    The jewels which thy beauty decked,
    And every ornament and toy
    Prepared for hours of sport and joy:
    The beds, the cars wherein I ride,
    Among our followers, next, divide.”

    She conscious that her lord approved
    Her going, with great rapture moved,
    Hastened within, without delay,
    Prepared to give their wealth away.

    Canto XXXI. Lakshman’s Prayer.

    When Lakshman, who had joined them there,
    Had heard the converse of the pair,
    His mien was changed, his eyes o’erflowed,
    His breast no more could bear its load.
    The son of Raghu, sore distressed,
    His brother’s feet with fervour pressed,
    While thus to Sita he complained,
    And him by lofty vows enchained:
    “If thou wilt make the woods thy home,
    Where elephant and roebuck roam,
    I too this day will take my bow
    And in the path before thee go.
    Our way will lie through forest ground
    Where countless birds and beasts are found,
    I heed not homes of Gods on high,
    I heed not life that cannot die,
    Nor would I wish, with thee away,
    O’er the three worlds to stretch my sway.”

    Thus Lakshman spake, with earnest prayer
    His brother’s woodland life to share.
    As Rama still his prayer denied
    With soothing words, again he cried:
    “When leave at first thou didst accord,
    Why dost thou stay me now, my lord?
    Thou art my refuge: O, be kind,
    Leave me not, dear my lord, behind.
    Thou canst not, brother, if thou choose
    That I still live, my wish refuse.”

    The glorious chief his speech renewed
    To faithful Lakshman as he sued,
    And on the eyes of Rama gazed
    Longing to lead, with hands upraised:
    “Thou art a hero just and dear,
    Whose steps to virtue’s path adhere,
    Loved as my life till life shall end,
    My faithful brother and my friend.
    If to the woods thou take thy way
    With Sita and with me to-day,
    Who for Kauśalya will provide,
    And guard the good Sumitra’s side?
    The lord of earth, of mighty power,
    Who sends good things in plenteous shower,
    As Indra pours the grateful rain,
    A captive lies in passion’s chain.
    The power imperial for her son
    Has Aśvapati’s daughter (\^{22}\) won,
    And she, proud queen, will little heed
    Her miserable rivals’ need.
    So Bharat, ruler of the land,
    By Queen Kaikeyi’s side will stand,
    Nor of those two will ever think,
    While grieving in despair they sink.
    Now, Lakshman, as thy love decrees,
    Or else the monarch’s heart to please,
    Follow this counsel and protect
    My honoured mother from neglect.
    So thou, while not to me alone
    Thy great affection will be shown,
    To highest duty wilt adhere
    By serving those thou shouldst revere.
    Now, son of Raghu, for my sake
    Obey this one request I make,
    Or, of her darling son bereft,
    Kauśalya has no comfort left.”

    The faithful Lakshman, thus addressed
    In gentle words which love expressed,
    To him in lore of language learned,
    His answer, eloquent, returned:

    “Nay, through thy might each queen will share
    Attentive Bharat’s love and care,
    Should Bharat, raised as king to sway
    This noblest realm, his trust betray,
    Nor for their safety well provide,
    Seduced by ill-suggesting pride,
    Doubt not my vengeful hand shall kill
    The cruel wretch who counsels ill—
    Kill him and all who lend him aid,

    And the three worlds in league arrayed.
    And good Kauśalya well can fee
    A thousand champions like to me.
    A thousand hamlets rich in grain
    The station of that queen maintain.
    She may, and my dear mother too,
    Live on the ample revenue.
    Then let me follow thee: herein:
    Is naught that may resemble sin.
    So shall I in my wish succeed,
    And aid, perhaps, my brother’s need.
    My bow and quiver well supplied
    With arrows hanging at my side,
    My hands shall spade and basket bear,
    And for thy feet the way prepare.
    I’ll bring thee roots and berries sweet.
    And woodland fare which hermits eat.
    Thou shall with thy Videhan spouse
    Recline upon the mountain’s brows;
    Be mine the toil, be mine to keep
    Watch o’er thee waking or asleep.”

    Filled by his speech with joy and pride,
    Rama to Lakshman thus replied:
    “Go then, my brother, bid adieu
    To all thy friends and retinue.
    And those two bows of fearful might,
    Celestial, which, at that famed rite,
    Lord Varun gave to Janak, king
    Of fair Vedeha with thee bring,
    With heavenly coats of sword-proof mail,
    Quivers, whose arrows never fail,
    And golden-hilted swords so keen,
    The rivals of the sun in sheen.
    Tended with care these arms are all
    Preserved in my preceptor’s hall.
    With speed, O Lakshman, go, produce,
    And bring them hither for our use.”
    So on a woodland life intent,
    To see his faithful friends he went,
    And brought the heavenly arms which lay
    By Rama’s teacher stored away.
    And Raghu’s son to Rama showed
    Those wondrous arms which gleamed and glowed,
    Well kept, adorned with many a wreath
    Of flowers on case, and hilt, and sheath.
    The prudent Rama at the sight
    Addressed his brother with delight:
    “Well art thou come, my brother dear,
    For much I longed to see thee here.
    For with thine aid, before I go,
    I would my gold and wealth bestow
    Upon the Brahmans sage, who school
    Their lives by stern devotion’s rule.
    And for all those who ever dwell
    Within my house and serve me well,
    Devoted servants, true and good,
    Will I provide a livelihood.
    Quick, go and summon to this place
    The good Vaśishṭha’s son,
    Suyajǹa, of the Brahman race
    The first and holiest one.
    To all the Brahmans wise and good
    Will I due reverence pay,
    Then to the solitary wood
    With thee will take my way.”

    Book III: Aranya Kanda (“The Book of the Forest”): Selections

    The forest exile of Rama with Sita and Lakshmana. The kidnapping of Sita by the demon king Ravana.

    Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana journey southward along the banks of river Godavari, where they build cottages and live off the land. At the Panchavati Forest, the she-demon Surpanakha attempts to seduce the brothers, fails, and then tries to kill Sita. Lakshmana saves Sita by cutting off Surpanakha’s nose and ears. Hearing about Surpanakha’s mutilation, her brother, Khara, organizes an attack against the princes. Rama annihilates Khara and his demon minions.

    When news of these events reaches Ravana, brother to Surpanakha and Khara, he resolves to destroy Rama by capturing Sita with the aid of another demon, Maricha, who assuming the form of a golden deer, captivates Sita’s attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleads with Rama to capture it. Rama, aware that this is a ploy of the demons, cannot dissuade Sita from her desire and chases the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshmana’s guard. After some time, Sita hears Rama calling out to her; afraid for his life, she insists that Lakshmana rush to his aid. Lakshmana tries to assure her that Rama is invincible and that it is best if he continues to follow Rama’s orders to protect her. On the verge of hysterics, Sita insists that it is not she but Rama who needs Lakshmana’s help. He obeys her wish but stipulates that she is not to leave the cottage or entertain any strangers. He draws a line in chalk around the cottage and casts a spell on it that prevents anyone from entering the boundary but allows people to exit. With the coast finally clear, Ravana appears in the guise of an ascetic requesting Sita’s hospitality. Thus Ravana tricks Sita into leaving the protection of the cottage and forcibly carries her away.

    Jatayus, a vulture, tries to rescue Sita but fails. At Lanka, demons keep Sita under heavy guard. Ravana demands that Sita marry him, but Sita, eternally devoted to Rama, refuses. Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita’s abduction from the fatally wounded Jatayus and immediately set out to save her. During their search, they meet the demon Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari, who direct them towards Sugriva and Hanuman of the Monkey Kingdom.

    In the selections for this chapter, Cantos XLII-LVII cover the kidnapping of Sita and her imprisonment in Lanka.

    Canto XLII. Maricha Transformed.

    Maricha thus in wild unrest With bitter words the king addressed. Then to his giant lord in dread, “Arise, and let us go,” he said. “Ah, I have met that mighty lord Armed with his shafts and bow and sword, And if again that bow he bend Our lives that very hour will end. For none that warrior can provoke And think to fly his deadly stroke. Like Yama with his staff is he, And his dread hand will slaughter thee. What can I more? My words can find No passage to thy stubborn mind. I go, great King, thy task to share, And may success attend thee there.”

    With that reply and bold consent
    The giant king was well content.
    He strained Maricha to his breast
    And thus with joyful words addressed:
    “There spoke a hero dauntless still,
    Obedient to his master’s will,
    Maricha’s proper self once more:
    Some other took thy shape before.
    Come, mount my jewelled car that flies.
    Will-governed, through the yielding skies.
    These asses, goblin-faced, shall bear
    Us quickly through the fields of air.
    Attract the lady with thy shape,
    Then through the wood, at will, escape.
    And I, when she has no defence,
    Will seize the dame and bear her thence.”

    Again Maricha made reply,
    Consent and will to signify.
    With rapid speed the giants two
    From the calm hermit dwelling flew,
    Borne in that wondrous chariot, meet
    For some great God’s celestial seat.
    They from their airy path looked down
    On many a wood and many a town,
    On lake and river, brook and rill,
    City and realm and towering hill.
    Soon he whom giant hosts obeyed,
    Maricha by his side, surveyed
    The dark expanse of Dandak wood
    Where Rama’s hermit cottage stood.
    They left the flying car, whereon
    The wealth of gold and jewels shone,
    And thus the giant king addressed
    Maricha as his hand he pressed:

    “Maricha, look! before our eyes
    Round Rama’s home the plantains rise.
    His hermitage is now in view:
    Quick to the work we came to do!”

    Thus Ravan spoke, Maricha heard
    Obedient to his master’s word,
    Threw off his giant shape and near
    The cottage strayed a beauteous deer.
    With magic power, by rapid change,
    His borrowed form was fair and strange.
    A sapphire tipped each horn with light;
    His face was black relieved with white.
    The turkis and the ruby shed
    A glory from his ears and head.
    His arching neck was proudly raised,
    And lazulites beneath it blazed.
    With roseate bloom his flanks were dyed,
    And lotus tints adorned his hide.
    His shape was fair, compact, and slight;

    His hoofs were carven lazulite.
    His tail with every changing glow
    Displayed the hues of Indra’s bow.
    With glossy skin so strangely flecked,
    With tints of every gem bedecked.
    A light o’er Rama’s home he sent,
    And through the wood, where’er he went.
    The giant clad in that strange dress
    That took the soul with loveliness,
    To charm the fair Videhan’s eyes
    With mingled wealth of mineral dyes,
    Moved onward, cropping in his way,
    The grass and grain and tender spray.
    His coat with drops of silver bright,
    A form to gaze on with delight,
    He raised his fair neck as he went
    To browse on bud and filament.
    Now in the Cassia grove he strayed,
    Now by the cot in plantains’ shade.
    Slowly and slowly on he came
    To catch the glances of the dame,
    And the tall deer of splendid hue
    Shone full at length in Sita’s view.
    He roamed where’er his fancy chose
    Where Rama’s leafy cottage rose.
    Now near, now far, in careless ease,
    He came and went among the trees.
    Now with light feet he turned to fly,
    Now, reassured, again drew nigh:
    Now gambolled close with leap and bound,
    Now lay upon the grassy ground:
    Now sought the door, devoid of fear,
    And mingled with the troop of deer;
    Led them a little way, and thence
    Again returned with confidence.
    Now flying far, now turning back
    Emboldened on his former track,
    Seeking to win the lady’s glance
    He wandered through the green expanse.
    Then thronging round, the woodland deer
    Gazed on his form with wondering fear;
    A while they followed where he led,
    Then snuffed the tainted gale and fled.
    The giant, though he longed to slay
    The startled quarry, spared the prey,
    And mindful of the shape he wore
    To veil his nature, still forbore.
    Then Sita of the glorious eye,
    Returning from her task drew nigh;
    For she had sought the wood to bring
    Each loveliest flower of early spring.
    Now would the bright-eyed lady choose
    Some gorgeous bud with blending hues,
    Now plucked the mango’s spray, and now
    The bloom from an Aśoka bough.
    She with her beauteous form, unmeet
    For woodland life and lone retreat,
    That wondrous dappled deer beheld
    Gemmed with rich pearls, unparalleled,
    His silver hair the lady saw,
    His radiant teeth and lips and jaw,
    And gazed with rapture as her eyes
    Expanded in their glad surprise.
    And when the false deer’s glances fell
    On her whom Rama loved so well,
    He wandered here and there, and cast
    A luminous beauty as he passed;
    And Janak’s child with strange delight
    Kept gazing on the unwonted sight.

    Canto XLIII. The Wondrous Deer.

    She stooped, her hands with flowers to fill,
    But gazed upon the marvel still:
    Gazed on its back and sparkling side
    Where silver hues with golden vied.
    Joyous was she of faultless mould,
    With glossy skin like polished gold.
    And loudly to her husband cried
    And bow-armed Lakshman by his side:
    Again, again she called in glee:
    “O come this glorious creature see;
    Quick, quick, my lord, this deer to view.
    And bring thy brother Lakshman too.”
    As through the wood her clear tones rang,
    Swift to her side the brothers sprang.
    With eager eyes the grove they scanned,
    And saw the deer before them stand.
    But doubt was strong in Lakshman’s breast,
    Who thus his thought and fear expressed:

    “Stay, for the wondrous deer we see
    The fiend Maricha’s self may be.
    Ere now have kings who sought this place
    To take their pastime in the chase,
    Met from his wicked art defeat,
    And fallen slain by like deceit.
    He wears, well trained in magic guile,
    The figure of a deer a while,
    Bright as the very sun, or place
    Where dwell the gay Gandharva race.
    No deer, O Rama, e’er was seen
    Thus decked with gold and jewels’ sheen.
    ‘Tis magic, for the world has ne’er,
    Lord of the world, shown aught so fair.”

    But Sita of the lovely smile,
    A captive to the giant’s wile,
    Turned Lakshman’s prudent speech aside
    And thus with eager words replied:
    “My honoured lord, this deer I see
    With beauty rare enraptures me.
    Go, chief of mighty arm, and bring
    For my delight this precious thing.
    Fair creatures of the woodland roam
    Untroubled near our hermit home.
    The forest cow and stag are there,
    The fawn, the monkey, and the bear,
    Where spotted deer delight to play,
    And strong and beauteous Kinnars(\^{23}\) stray.
    But never, as they wandered by,
    Has such a beauty charmed mine eye
    As this with limbs so fair and slight,
    So gentle, beautiful and bright.
    O see, how fair it is to view
    With jewels of each varied hue:
    Bright as the rising moon it glows,
    Lighting the wood where’er it goes.
    Ah me, what form and grace are there!
    Its limbs how fine, its hues how fair!
    Transcending all that words express,
    It takes my soul with loveliness.
    O, if thou would, to please me, strive
    To take the beauteous thing alive,
    How thou wouldst gaze with wondering eyes
    Delighted on the lovely prize!
    And when our woodland life is o’er,
    And we enjoy our realm once more,
    The wondrous animal will grace
    The chambers of my dwelling-place,
    And a dear treasure will it be
    To Bharat and the queens and me,
    And all with rapture and amaze
    Upon its heavenly form will gaze.
    But if the beauteous deer, pursued,
    Thine arts to take it still elude,
    Strike it, O chieftain, and the skin
    Will be a treasure, laid within.
    O, how I long my time to pass
    Sitting upon the tender grass,
    With that soft fell beneath me spread
    Bright with its hair of golden thread!
    This strong desire, this eager will,
    Befits a gentle lady ill:
    But when I first beheld, its look
    My breast with fascination took.
    See, golden hair its flank adorns,
    And sapphires tip its branching horns.
    Resplendent as the lunar way,
    Or the first blush of opening day,
    With graceful form and radiant hue
    It charmed thy heart, O chieftain, too.”

    He heard her speech with willing ear,
    He looked again upon the deer.
    Its lovely shape his breast beguiled
    Moved by the prayer of Janak’s child,
    And yielding for her pleasure’s sake,
    To Lakshman Rama turned and spake:

    “Mark, Lakshman, mark how Sita’s breast
    With eager longing is possessed.
    To-day this deer of wondrous breed
    Must for his passing beauty bleed,
    Brighter than e’er in Nandan strayed,
    Or Chaitraratha’s heavenly shade.
    How should the groves of earth possess
    Such all-surpassing loveliness!
    The hair lies smooth and bright and fine,
    Or waves upon each curving line,
    And drops of living gold bedeck
    The beauty of his side and neck.
    O look, his crimson tongue between
    His teeth like flaming fire is seen,
    Flashing, whene’er his lips he parts,
    As from a cloud the lightning darts.
    O see his sunlike forehead shine
    With emerald tints and almandine,
    While pearly light and roseate glow
    Of shells adorn his neck below.
    No eye on such a deer can rest
    But soft enchantment takes the breast:
    No man so fair a thing behold
    Ablaze with light of radiant gold,
    Celestial, bright with jewels’ sheen,
    Nor marvel when his eyes have seen.
    A king equipped with bow and shaft
    Delights in gentle forest craft,
    And as in boundless woods he strays
    The quarry for the venison slays.
    There as he wanders with his train
    A store of wealth he oft may gain.
    He claims by right the precious ore,
    He claims the jewels’ sparkling store.
    Such gains are dearer in his eyes
    Than wealth that in his chamber lies,
    The dearest things his spirit knows,
    Dear as the bliss which Śukra chose.
    But oft the rich expected gain
    Which heedless men pursue in vain,
    The sage, who prudent counsels know,
    Explain and in a moment show.
    This best of deer, this gem of all,
    To yield his precious spoils must fall,
    And tender Sita by my side
    Shall sit upon the golden hide.
    Ne’er could I find so rich a coat
    On spotted deer or sheep or goat.
    No buck or antelope has such,
    So bright to view, so soft to touch.
    This radiant deer and one on high
    That moves in glory through the sky,
    Alike in heavenly beauty are,
    One on the earth and one a star.
    But, brother, if thy fears be true,
    And this bright creature that we view
    Be fierce Maricha in disguise,
    Then by this hand he surely dies.
    For that dire fiend who spurns control
    With bloody hand and cruel soul,
    Has roamed this forest and dismayed
    The holiest saints who haunt the shade.
    Great archers, sprung of royal race,
    Pursuing in the wood the chase,
    Have fallen by his wicked art,
    And now my shaft shall strike his heart.
    Vatapi, by his magic power
    Made heedless saints his flesh devour,
    Then, from within their frames he rent
    Forth bursting from imprisonment.
    But once his art in senseless pride
    Upon the mightiest saint he tried,
    Agastya’s self, and caused him taste
    The baited meal before him placed.
    Vatapi, when the rite was o’er,
    Would take the giant form he wore,
    But Saint Agastya knew his wile
    And checked the giant with smile.
    “Vatapi, thou with cruel spite
    Hast conquered many an anchorite
    The noblest of the Brahman caste,—
    And now thy ruin comes at last.”
    Now if my power he thus defies,
    This giant, like Vatapi dies,
    Daring to scorn a man like me,
    A self-subduing devotee.
    Yea, as Agastya slew the foe,
    My hand shall lay Maricha low
    Clad in thine arms thy bow in hand,
    To guard the Maithil lady stand,
    With watchful eye and thoughtful breast
    Keeping each word of my behest
    I go, and hunting through the brake
    This wondrous deer will bring or take.
    Yea surely I will bring the spoil
    Returning from my hunter’s toil
    See, Lakshman how my consort’s eyes
    Are longing for the lovely prize.
    This day it falls, that I may win
    The treasure of so fair a skin.
    Do thou and Sita watch with care
    Lest danger seize you unaware.
    Swift from my bow one shaft will fly;
    The stricken deer will fall and die
    Then quickly will I strip the game
    And bring the trophy to my dame.
    Jaṭayus, guardian good and wise,
    Our old and faithful friend,
    The best and strongest bird that flies,
    His willing aid will lend
    The Maithil lady well protect,
    For every chance provide,
    And in thy tender care suspect
    A foe on every side.”

    Canto XLIV. Maricha’s Death.

    Thus having warned his brother bold
    He grasped his sword with haft of gold,
    And bow with triple flexure bent,
    His own delight and ornament;
    Then bound two quivers to his side,
    And hurried forth with eager stride.
    Soon as the antlered monarch saw
    The lord of monarchs near him draw,
    A while with trembling heart he fled,
    Then turned and showed his stately head.
    With sword and bow the chief pursued
    Where’er the fleeing deer he viewed
    Sending from dell and lone recess
    The splendour of his loveliness.
    Now full in view the creature stood
    Now vanished in the depth of wood;
    Now running with a languid flight,
    Now like a meteor lost to sight.
    With trembling limbs away he sped;
    Then like the moon with clouds o’erspread
    Gleamed for a moment bright between
    The trees, and was again unseen.
    Thus in the magic deer’s disguise
    Maricha lured him to the prize,
    And seen a while, then lost to view,
    Far from his cot the hero drew.
    Still by the flying game deceived
    The hunter’s heart was wroth and grieved,
    And wearied with the fruitless chase
    He stayed him in a shady place.
    Again the rover of the night
    Enraged the chieftain, full in sight,
    Slow moving in the coppice near,
    Surrounded by the woodland deer.
    Again the hunter sought the game
    That seemed a while to court his aim:
    But seized again with sudden dread,
    Beyond his sight the creature fled.
    Again the hero left the shade,
    Again the deer before him strayed.
    With surer hope and stronger will
    The hunter longed his prey to kill.
    Then as his soul impatient grew,
    An arrow from his side he drew,
    Resplendent at the sunbeam’s glow,
    The crusher of the smitten foe.
    With skillful heed the mighty lord
    Fixed well shaft and strained the cord.
    Upon the deer his eyes he bent,
    And like a fiery serpent went
    The arrow Brahma’s self had framed,
    Alive with sparks that hissed and flamed,
    Like Indra’s flashing levin, true
    To the false deer the missile flew
    Cleaving his flesh that wonderous dart
    Stood quivering in Maricha’s heart.
    Scarce from the ground one foot he sprang,
    Then stricken fell with deadly pang.
    Half lifeless, as he pressed the ground,
    He gave a roar of awful sound
    And ere the wounded giant died
    He threw his borrowed form aside
    Remembering still his lord’s behest
    He pondered in his heart how best
    Sita might send her guard away,
    And Ravan seize the helpless prey.
    The monster knew the time was nigh,
    And called aloud with eager cry,
    “Ho, Sita, Lakshman” and the tone

    He borrowed was like Rama’s own.

    So by that matchless arrow cleft,
    The deer’s bright form Maricha left,
    Resumed his giant shape and size
    And closed in death his languid eyes.
    When Rama saw his awful foe
    Gasp, smeared with blood, in deadly throe,
    His anxious thoughts to Sita sped,
    And the wise words that Lakshman said,
    That this was false Maricha’s art,
    Returned again upon his heart.
    He knew the foe he triumphed o’er
    The name of great Maricha bore.
    “The fiend,” he pondered, ‘ere he died,
    “Ho, Lakshman! ho, my Sita!” cried
    Ah, if that cry has reached her ear,
    How dire must be my darling’s fear!
    And Lakshman of the mighty arm,
    What thinks he in his wild alarm?
    As thus he thought in sad surmise,
    Each startled hair began to rise,
    And when he saw the giant slain
    And thought upon that cry again,
    His spirit sank and terror pressed
    Full sorely on the hero’s breast.
    Another deer he chased and struck,
    He bore away the fallen buck,
    To Janasthan then turned his face
    And hastened to his dwelling place.

    Canto XLV. Lakshman’s Departure.

    But Sita hearing as she thought,
    Her husband’s cry with anguish fraught,
    Called to her guardian, “Lakshman, run
    And in the wood seek Raghu’s son.
    Scarce can my heart retain its throne,
    Scarce can my life be called mine own,
    As all my powers and senses fail
    At that long, loud and bitter wail.
    Haste to the wood with all thy speed
    And save thy brother in his need.
    Go, save him in the distant glade
    Where loud he calls, for timely aid.
    He falls beneath some giant foe—
    A bull whom lions overthrow.

    Deaf to her prayer, no step he stirred
    Obedient to his mother’s word,
    Then Janak’s child, with ire inflamed,
    In words of bitter scorn exclaimed exclaimed

    “Sumitra’s son, a friend in show,
    Thou art in truth thy brother’s foe,
    Who canst at such any hour deny
    Thy succour and neglect his cry.
    Yes, Lakshman, smit with love of me
    Thy brother’s death thou fain wouldst see.
    This guilty love thy heart has swayed
    And makes thy feet so loth to aid.
    Thou hast no love for Rama, no:
    Thy joy is vice, thy thoughts are low
    Hence thus unmoved thou yet canst stay
    While my dear lord is far away.
    If aught of ill my lord betide
    Who led thee here, thy chief and guide,
    Ah, what will be my hapless fate
    Left in the wild wood desolate!”

    Thus spoke the lady sad with fear,
    With many a sigh and many a tear,
    Still trembling like a captured doe:
    And Lakshman spoke to calm her woe:

    “Videhan Queen, be sure of this,—
    And at the thought thy fear dismiss,—
    Thy husband’s mightier power defies
    All Gods and angels of the skies,
    Gandharvas, and the sons of light,
    Serpents, and rovers of the night.
    I tell thee, of the sons of earth,
    Of Gods who boast celestial birth,
    Of beasts and birds and giant hosts,
    Of demigods, Gandharvas, ghosts,
    Of awful fiends, O thou most fair,
    There lives not one whose heart would dare
    To meet thy Rama in the fight,
    Like Indra’s self unmatched in might.
    Such idle words thou must not say
    Thy Rama lives whom none may slay.
    I will not, cannot leave thee here
    In the wild wood till he be near.
    The mightiest strength can ne’er withstand
    His eager force, his vigorous hand.
    No, not the triple world allied
    With all the immortal Gods beside.
    Dismiss thy fear, again take heart,
    Let all thy doubt and woe depart.
    Thy lord, be sure, will soon be here
    And bring thee back that best of deer.
    Not his, not his that mournful cry,
    Nor haply came it from the sky.
    Some giant’s art was busy there
    And framed a castle based on air.
    A precious pledge art thou, consigned
    To me by him of noblest mind,
    Nor can I fairest dame, forsake
    The pledge which Rama bade me take.
    Upon our heads, O Queen, we drew
    The giants’ hate when Rama slew
    Their chieftain Khara, and the shade
    Of Janasthan in ruin laid.
    Through all this mighty wood they rove
    With varied cries from grove to grove
    On rapine bent they wander here:
    But O, dismiss thy causeless fear."

    Bright flashed her eye as Lakshman spoke
    And forth her words of fury broke
    Upon her truthful guardian, flung
    With bitter taunts that pierced and stung:
    “Shame on such false compassion, base
    Defiler of thy glorious race!
    ‘Twere joyous sight I ween to thee
    My lord in direst strait to see.
    Thou knowest Rama sore bested,
    Or word like this thou ne’er hadst said.
    No marvel if we find such sin
    In rivals false to kith and kin.
    Wretches like thee of evil kind,
    Concealing crime with crafty mind.
    Thou, wretch, thine aid wilt still deny,
    And leave my lord alone to die.
    Has love of me unnerved thy hand,
    Or Bharat’s art this ruin planned?
    But be the treachery his or thine,
    In vain, in vain the base design.
    For how shall I, the chosen bride
    Of dark-hued Rama, lotus-eyed,
    The queen who once called Rama mine,
    To love of other men decline?
    Believe me, Lakshman, Rama’s wife
    Before thine eyes will quit this life,
    And not a moment will she stay
    If her dear lord have passed away.”

    The lady’s bitter speech, that stirred
    Each hair upon his frame, he heard.
    With lifted hands together laid,
    His calm reply he gently made:

    “No words have I to answer now:
    My deity, O Queen, art thou.
    But ‘tis no marvel, dame, to find
    Such lack of sense in womankind.
    Throughout this world, O Maithil dame,
    Weak women’s hearts are still the same.
    Inconstant, urged by envious spite,
    They sever friends and hate the right.
    I cannot brook, Videhan Queen,
    Thy words intolerably keen.
    Mine ears thy fierce reproaches pain
    As boiling water seethes the brain.
    And now to bear me witness all
    The dwellers in the wood I call,
    That, when with words of truth I plead,
    This harsh reply is all my meed.
    Ah, woe is thee! Ah, grief, that still
    Eager to do my brother’s will,
    Mourning thy woman’s nature, I
    Must see thee doubt my truth and die.
    I fly to Rama’s side, and Oh,
    May bliss attend thee while I go!
    May all attendant wood-gods screen
    Thy head from harm, O large-eyed Queen!
    And though dire omens meet my sight
    And fill my soul with wild affright,
    May I return in peace and see
    The son of Raghu safe with thee!”

    The child of Janak heard him speak,
    And the hot tear-drops down her cheek,
    Increasing to a torrent, ran,
    As thus once more the dame began:
    “O Lakshman, if I widowed be
    Godavari’s flood shall cover me,
    Or I will die by cord, or leap,
    Life weary, from yon rocky steep;
    Or deadly poison will I drink,
    Or ‘neath the kindled flames will sink,
    But never, reft of Rama, can
    Consent to touch a meaner man.”

    The Maithil dame with many sighs,
    And torrents pouring from her eyes,
    The faithful Lakshman thus addressed,
    And smote her hands upon her breast.
    Sumitra’s son, o’erwhelmed by fears,
    Looked on the large-eyed queen:
    He saw that flood of burning tears,
    He saw that piteous mien.
    He yearned sweet comfort to afford,
    He strove to soothe her pain;
    But to the brother of her lord
    She spoke no word again.
    His reverent hands once more he raised,
    His head he slightly bent,
    Upon her face he sadly gazed,
    And then toward Rama went.

    Canto XLVI. The Guest.

    The angry Lakshman scarce could brook
    Her bitter words, her furious look.
    With dark forebodings in his breast
    To Rama’s side he quickly pressed.

    Then ten necked Ravan saw the time
    Propitious for his purposed crime.
    A mendicant in guise he came
    And stood before the Maithil dame.
    His garb was red, with tufted hair
    And sandalled feet a shade he bare,
    And from the fiend’s left shoulder slung
    A staff and water-vessel hung.
    Near to the lovely dame he drew,
    While both the chiefs were far from view,
    As darkness takes the evening air
    When neither sun nor moon is there.
    He bent his eye upon the dame,
    A princess fair, of spotless fame:
    So might some baleful planet be
    Near Moon-forsaken Rohini.(\^{24}\)
    As the fierce tyrant nearer drew,
    The trees in Janasthan that grew
    Waved not a leaf for fear and woe,
    And the hushed wind forbore to blow.
    Godavari’s waters as they fled,
    Saw his fierce eye-balls flashing red,
    And from each swiftly-gliding wave
    A melancholy murmur gave.
    Then Ravan, when his eager eye
    Beheld the longed-for moment nigh,
    In mendicant’s apparel dressed
    Near to the Maithil lady pressed.
    In holy guise, a fiend abhorred,
    He found her mourning for her lord.
    Thus threatening draws Śaniśchar(\^{25}\) nigh
    To Chitra(\^{26}\) in the evening sky;
    Thus the deep well by grass concealed
    Yawns treacherous in the verdant field.
    He stood and looked upon the dame
    Of Rama, queen of spotless fame
    With her bright teeth and each fair limb
    Like the full moon she seemed to him,
    Sitting within her leafy cot,
    Weeping for woe that left her not.
    Thus, while with joy his pulses beat,
    He saw her in her lone retreat,
    Eyed like the lotus, fair to view
    In silken robes of amber hue.
    Pierced to the core by Kama’s dart
    He murmured texts with lying art,
    And questioned with a soft address
    The lady in her loneliness.
    The fiend essayed with gentle speech
    The heart of that fair dame to reach,
    Pride of the worlds, like Beauty’s Queen
    Without her darling lotus seen:

    “O thou whose silken robes enfold
    A form more fair than finest gold,
    With lotus garland on thy head,
    Like a sweet spring with bloom o’erspread,
    Who art thou, fair one, what thy name,
    Beauty, or Honour, Fortune, Fame,
    Spirit, or nymph, or Queen of love
    Descended from thy home above?
    Bright as the dazzling jasmine shine
    Thy small square teeth in level line.
    Like two black stars aglow with light
    Thine eyes are large and pure and bright.
    Thy charms of smile and teeth and hair
    And winning eyes, O thou most fair,
    Steal all my spirit, as the flow
    Of rivers mines the bank below.
    How bright, how fine each flowing tress!
    How firm those orbs beneath thy dress!
    That dainty waist with ease were spanned,
    Sweet lady, by a lover’s hand.
    Mine eyes, O beauty, ne’er have seen
    Goddess or nymph so fair of mien,
    Or bright Gandharva’s heavenly dame,
    Or woman of so perfect frame.
    In youth’s soft prime thy years are few,
    And earth has naught so fair to view.
    I marvel one like thee in face
    Should make the woods her dwelling-place.
    Leave, lady, leave this lone retreat
    In forest wilds for thee unmeet,
    Where giants fierce and strong assume
    All shapes and wander in the gloom.
    These dainty feet were formed to tread
    Some palace floor with carpets spread,
    Or wander in trim gardens where
    Each opening bud perfumes the air.
    The richest robe thy form should deck,
    The rarest gems adorn thy neck,
    The sweetest wreath should bind thy hair,
    The noblest lord thy bed should share.
    Art thou akin, O fair of form,
    To Rudras,(\^{27}\) or the Gods of storm,{\^{28}\)
    Or to the glorious Vasus(\^{29}\)? How
    Can less than these be bright as thou?
    But never nymph or heavenly maid
    Or Goddess haunts this gloomy shade.
    Here giants roam, a savage race;
    What led thee to so dire a place?
    Here monkeys leap from tree to tree,
    And bears and tigers wander free;
    Here ravening lions prowl, and fell
    Hyenas in the thickets yell,
    And elephants infuriate roam,
    Mighty and fierce, their woodland home.
    Dost thou not dread, so soft and fair,
    Tiger and lion, wolf and bear?
    Hast thou, O beauteous dame, no fear
    In the wild wood so lone and drear?
    Whose and who art thou? whence and why
    Sweet lady, with no guardian nigh,
    Dost thou this awful forest tread
    By giant bands inhabited?”

    The praise the high-souled Ravan spoke
    No doubt within her bosom woke.
    His saintly look and Brahman guise
    Deceived the lady’s trusting eyes.
    With due attention on the guest
    Her hospitable rites she pressed.
    She bade the stranger to a seat,
    And gave him water for his feet.
    The bowl and water-pot he bare,
    And garb which wandering Brahmans wear
    Forbade a doubt to rise.
    Won by his holy look she deemed
    The stranger even as he seemed
    To her deluded eyes.
    Intent on hospitable care,
    She brought her best of woodland fare,
    And showed her guest a seat.
    She bade the saintly stranger lave
    His feet in water which she gave,
    And sit and rest and eat.
    He kept his eager glances bent
    On her so kindly eloquent,
    Wife of the noblest king;
    And longed in heart to steal her thence,
    Preparing by the dire offence,
    Death on his head to bring.
    The lady watched with anxious face
    For Rama coming from the chase
    With Lakshman by his side:
    But nothing met her wandering glance
    Save the wild forest’s green expanse
    Extending far and wide.

    Canto XLVII. Ravan’s Wooing.

    As, clad in mendicant’s disguise,
    He questioned thus his destined prize,
    She to the seeming saintly man
    The story of her life began.
    “My guest is he,” she thought, “and I,
    To ‘scape his curse, must needs reply:”
    “Child of a noble sire I spring
    From Janak, fair Videha’s king.
    May every good be thine! my name
    Is Sita, Rama’s cherished dame.
    Twelve winters with my lord I spent
    Most happily with sweet content
    In the rich home of Raghu’s line,
    And every earthly joy was mine.
    Twelve pleasant years flew by, and then
    His peers advised the king of men,
    Rama, my lord, to consecrate
    Joint ruler of his ancient state.
    But when the rites were scarce begun,
    To consecrate Ikshvaku’s son,
    The queen Kaikeyi, honoured dame,
    Sought of her lord an ancient claim.
    Her plea of former service pressed,
    And made him grant her new request,
    To banish Rama to the wild
    And consecrate instead her child.
    This double prayer on him, the best
    And truest king, she strongly pressed:
    “Mine eyes in sleep I will not close,
    Nor eat, nor drink, nor take repose.
    This very day my death shall bring
    If Rama be anointed king.”
    As thus she spake in envious ire,
    The aged king, my husband’s sire,
    Besought with fitting words; but she
    Was cold and deaf to every plea.
    As yet my days are few; eighteen
    The years of life that I have seen;
    And Rama, best of all alive,
    Has passed of years a score and five—
    Rama the great and gentle, through
    All region famed as pure and true,
    Large-eyed and mighty-armed and tall,
    With tender heart that cares for all.
    But Daśaratha, led astray
    By woman’s wile and passion’s sway,
    By his strong love of her impelled,
    The consecrating rites withheld.
    When, hopeful of the promised grace,
    My Rama sought his father’s face,
    The queen Kaikeyi, ill at ease,
    Spoke to my lord brief words like these:
    “Hear, son of Raghu, hear from me
    The words thy father says to thee:
    “I yield this day to Bharat’s hand,
    Free from all foes, this ancient land.
    Fly from this home no longer thine,
    And dwell in woods five years and nine.
    Live in the forest and maintain
    Mine honour pure from falsehood’s stain.’

    Then Rama spoke, untouched by dread:
    “Yea, it shall be as thou hast said.”
    And answered, faithful to his vows,
    Obeying Daśaratha’s spouse:
    “The offered realm I would not take,
    But still keep true the words he spake.”
    Thus, gentle Brahman, Rama still
    Clung to his vow with firmest will.
    And valiant Lakshman, dear to fame,
    His brother by a younger dame,
    Bold victor in the deadly fray,
    Would follow Rama on his way.
    On sternest vows his heart was set,
    And he, a youthful anchoret,
    Bound up in twisted coil his hair
    And took the garb which hermits wear;
    Then with his bow to guard us, he
    Went forth with Rama and with me.
    By Queen Kaikeyi’s art bereft
    The kingdom and our home we left,
    And bound by stern religious vows
    We sought this shade of forest boughs.
    Now, best of Brahmans, here we tread
    These pathless regions dark and dread.
    But come, refresh thy soul, and rest
    Here for a while an honoured guest,
    For he, my lord, will soon be here
    With fresh supply of woodland cheer,
    Large store of venison of the buck,
    Or some great boar his hand has struck.
    Meanwhile, O stranger, grant my prayer:
    Thy name, thy race, thy birth declare,
    And why with no companion thou
    Roamest in Dandak forest now.

    Thus questioned Sita, Rama’s dame.
    Then fierce the stranger’s answer came:
    “Lord of the giant legions, he
    From whom celestial armies flee,—
    The dread of hell and earth and sky,
    Ravan the Rakshas(\^{30}\) king am I.
    Now when thy gold-like form I view
    Arrayed in silks of amber hue,
    My love, O thou of perfect mould,
    For all my dames is dead and cold.
    A thousand fairest women, torn
    From many a land my home adorn.
    But come, loveliest lady, be
    The queen of every dame and me.
    My city Lanka, glorious town,
    Looks from a mountain’s forehead down
    Where ocean with his flash and foam
    Beats madly on mine island home.
    With me, O Sita, shalt thou rove
    Delighted through each shady grove,
    Nor shall thy happy breast retain
    Fond memory of this life of pain.
    In gay attire, a glittering band,
    Five thousand maids shall round thee stand,
    And serve thee at thy beck and sign,
    If thou, fair Sita, wilt be mine.”

    Then forth her noble passion broke
    As thus in turn the lady spoke:
    “Me, me the wife of Rama, him
    The lion lord with lion’s limb,
    Strong as the sea, firm as the rock,
    Like Indra in the battle shock.
    The lord of each auspicious sign,
    The glory of his princely line,
    Like some fair Bodh tree strong and tall,
    The noblest and the best of all,
    Rama, the heir of happy fate
    Who keeps his word inviolate,
    Lord of the lion gait, possessed
    Of mighty arm and ample chest,
    Rama the lion-warrior, him
    Whose moon bright face no fear can dim,
    Rama, his bridled passions’ lord,
    The darling whom his sire adored,—
    Me, me the true and loving dame
    Of Rama, prince of deathless fame—
    Me wouldst thou vainly woo and press?
    A jackal woo a lioness!
    Steal from the sun his glory! such
    Thy hope Lord Rama’s wife to touch.
    Ha! Thou hast seen the trees of gold,
    The sign which dying eyes behold,
    Thus seeking, weary of thy life,
    To win the love of Rama’s wife.
    Fool! wilt thou dare to rend away
    The famished lion’s bleeding prey,
    Or from the threatening jaws to take
    The fang of some envenomed snake?
    What, wouldst thou shake with puny hand
    Mount Mandar,(\^{31}\) towering o’er the land,
    Put poison to thy lips and think
    The deadly cup a harmless drink?
    With pointed needle touch thine eye,
    A razor to thy tongue apply,
    Who wouldst pollute with impious touch
    The wife whom Rama loves so much?
    Be round thy neck a millstone tied,
    And swim the sea from side to side;
    Or raising both thy hands on high
    Pluck sun and moon from yonder sky;
    Or let the kindled flame be pressed,
    Wrapt in thy garment, to thy breast;
    More wild the thought that seeks to win
    Rama’s dear wife who knows not sin.
    The fool who thinks with idle aim
    To gain the love of Rama’s dame,
    With dark and desperate footing makes
    His way o’er points of iron stakes.
    As Ocean to a bubbling spring,
    The lion to a fox, the king
    Of all the birds that ply the wing
    To an ignoble crow
    As gold to lead of little price,
    As to the drainings of the rice
    The drink they quaff in Paradise,
    The Amrit’s heavenly flow,
    As sandal dust with perfume sweet
    Is to the mire that soils our feet,
    A tiger to a cat,
    As the white swan is to the owl,
    The peacock to the waterfowl,
    An eagle to a bat,
    Such is my lord compared with thee;
    And when with bow and arrows he,
    Mighty as Indra’s self shall see
    His foeman, armed to slay,
    Thou, death-doomed like the fly that sips
    The oil that on the altar drips,
    Shalt cast the morsel from thy lips
    And lose thy half-won prey.”
    Thus in high scorn the lady flung
    The biting arrows of her tongue
    In bitter words that pierced and stung
    The rover of the night.
    She ceased. Her gentle cheek grew pale,
    Her loosened limbs began to fail,
    And like a plantain in the gale
    She trembled with affright.
    He terrible as Death stood nigh,
    And watched with fierce exulting eye
    The fear that shook her frame.
    To terrify the lady more,
    He counted all his triumphs o’er,
    Proclaimed the titles that he bore,
    His pedigree and name.

    Canto XLVIII. Ravan’s Speech.

    With knitted brow and furious eye
    The stranger made his fierce reply:
    “In me O fairest dame, behold
    The brother of the King of Gold.
    The Lord of Ten Necks my title, named
    Ravan, for might and valour famed.
    Gods and Gandharva hosts I scare;
    Snakes, spirits, birds that roam the air
    Fly from my coming, wild with fear,
    Trembling like men when Death is near.
    Vaiśravan once, my brother, wrought
    To ire, encountered me and fought,

    But yielding to superior might
    Fled from his home in sore affright.
    Lord of the man-drawn chariot, still
    He dwells on famed Kailasa’s hill.
    I made the vanquished king resign
    The glorious car which now is mine,—
    Pushpak, the far-renowned, that flies
    Will-guided through the buxom skies.
    Celestial hosts by Indra led
    Flee from my face disquieted,
    And where my dreaded feet appear
    The wind is hushed or breathless is fear.
    Where’er I stand, where’er I go
    The troubled waters cease to flow,
    Each spell-bound wave is mute and still
    And the fierce sun himself is chill.
    Beyond the sea my Lanka stands
    Filled with fierce forms and giant bands,
    A glorious city fair to see
    As Indra’s Amaravati.
    A towering height of solid wall,
    Flashing afar, surrounds it all,
    Its golden courts enchant the sight,
    And gates aglow with lazulite.
    Steeds, elephants, and cars are there,
    And drums’ loud music fills the air,
    Fair trees in lovely gardens grow
    Whose boughs with varied fruitage glow.
    Thou, beauteous Queen, with me shalt dwell
    In halls that suit a princess well,
    Thy former fellows shall forget
    Nor think of women with regret,
    No earthly joy thy soul shall miss,
    And take its fill of heavenly bliss.
    Of mortal Rama think no more,
    Whose terms of days will soon be o’er.
    King Daśaratha looked in scorn
    On Rama though the eldest born,
    Sent to the woods the weakling fool,
    And set his darling son to rule.
    What, O thou large-eyed dame, hast thou
    To do with fallen Rama now,
    From home and kingdom forced to fly,
    A wretched hermit soon to die?
    Accept thy lover, nor refuse
    The giant king who fondly woos.
    O listen, nor reject in scorn
    A heart by Kama’s arrows torn.
    If thou refuse to hear my prayer,
    Of grief and coming woe beware;
    For the sad fate will fall on thee
    Which came on hapless Urvaśi,
    When with her foot she chanced to touch
    Purúravas, and sorrowed much.
    My little finger raised in fight
    Were more than match for Rama’s might.
    O fairest, blithe and happy be
    With him whom fortune sends to thee.”

    Such were the words the giant said,
    And Sita’s angry eyes were red.
    She answered in that lonely place
    The monarch of the giant race:

    “Art thou the brother of the Lord
    Of Gold by all the world adored,
    And sprung of that illustrious seed
    Wouldst now attempt this evil deed?
    I tell thee, impious Monarch, all
    The giants by thy sin will fall,
    Whose reckless lord and king thou art,
    With foolish mind and lawless heart.
    Yea, one may hope to steal the wife
    Of Indra and escape with life.
    But he who Rama’s dame would tear
    From his loved side must needs despair.
    Yea, one may steal fair Śachi, dame
    Of Him who shoots the thunder flame,
    May live successful in his aim
    And length of day may see;
    But hope, O giant King, in vain,
    Though cups of Amrit thou may drain,
    To shun the penalty and pain
    Of wronging one like me.”
    Canto XLIX. The Rape Of Sita.
    The Rakshas monarch, thus addressed,
    His hands a while together pressed,
    And straight before her startled eyes
    Stood monstrous in his giant size.
    Then to the lady, with the lore
    Of eloquence, he spoke once more:
    “Thou scarce,” he cried, “hast heard aright
    The glories of my power and might.
    I borne sublime in air can stand
    And with these arms upheave the land,
    Drink the deep flood of Ocean dry
    And Death with conquering force defy,
    Pierce the great sun with furious dart
    And to her depths cleave earth apart.
    See, thou whom love and beauty blind,
    I wear each form as wills my mind.”

    As thus he spake in burning ire
    His glowing eyes were red with fire.
    His gentle garb aside was thrown
    And all his native shape was shown.
    Terrific, monstrous, wild, and dread
    As the dark God who rules the dead,
    His fiery eyes in fury rolled,
    His limbs were decked with glittering gold.
    Like some dark cloud the monster showed,
    And his fierce breast with fury glowed.
    The ten-faced rover of the night,
    With twenty arms exposed to sight,
    His saintly guise aside had laid
    And all his giant height displayed.
    Attired in robes of crimson dye
    He stood and watched with angry eye
    The lady in her bright array
    Resplendent as the dawn of day
    When from the east the sunbeams break,
    And to the dark-haired lady spake:
    “If thou would call that lord thine own
    Whose fame in every world is known,
    Look kindly on my love, and be
    Bride of a consort meet for thee.
    With me let blissful years be spent,
    For ne’er thy choice shalt thou repent.
    No deed of mine shall e’er displease
    My darling as she lives at ease.
    Thy love for mortal man resign,
    And to a worthier lord incline.
    Ah foolish lady, seeming wise
    In thine own weak and partial eyes,
    By what fair graces art thou held
    To Rama from his realm expelled?
    Misfortunes all his life attend,
    And his brief days are near their end.
    Unworthy prince, infirm of mind!
    A woman spoke and he resigned
    His home and kingdom and withdrew
    From troops of friends and retinue.
    And sought this forest dark and dread
    By savage beasts inhabited.

    Thus Ravan urged the lady meet
    For love, whose words were soft and sweet.
    Near and more near the giant pressed
    As love’s hot fire inflamed his breast.
    The leader of the giant crew
    His arm around the lady threw:
    Thus Budha(\^{32}\) with ill-omened might
    Steals Rohini’s delicious light.
    One hand her glorious tresses grasped,
    One with its ruthless pressure clasped
    The body of his lovely prize,
    The Maithil dame with lotus eyes.
    The silvan Gods in wild alarm
    Marked his huge teeth and ponderous arm,
    And from that Death-like presence fled,
    Of mountain size and towering head.
    Then seen was Ravan’s magic car
    Aglow with gold which blazed afar,—
    The mighty car which asses drew
    Thundering as it onward flew.
    He spared not harsh rebuke to chide
    The lady as she moaned and cried,
    Then with his arm about her waist
    His captive in the car he placed.
    In vain he threatened: long and shrill
    Rang out her lamentation still,
    O Rama! which no fear could stay:
    But her dear lord was far away.
    Then rose the fiend, and toward the skies
    Bore his poor helpless struggling prize:
    Hurrying through the air above
    The dame who loathed his proffered love.
    So might a soaring eagle bear
    A serpent’s consort through the air.
    As on he bore her through the sky
    She shrieked aloud her bitter cry.
    As when some wretch’s lips complain
    In agony of maddening pain;
    “O Lakshman, thou whose joy is still
    To do thine elder brother’s will,
    This fiend, who all disguises wears,
    From Rama’s side his darling tears.
    Thou who couldst leave bliss, fortune, all,
    Yea life itself at duty’s call,
    Dost thou not see this outrage done
    To hapless me, O Raghu’s son?
    ‘Tis thine, O victor of the foe,
    To bring the haughtiest spirit low,
    How canst thou such an outrage see
    And let the guilty fiend go free?
    Ah, seldom in a moment’s time
    Comes bitter fruit of sin and crime,
    But in the day of harvest pain
    Comes like the ripening of the grain.
    So thou whom fate and folly lead
    To ruin for this guilty deed,
    Shalt die by Rama’s arm ere long
    A dreadful death for hideous wrong.
    Ah, too successful in their ends
    Are Queen Kaikeyi and her friends,
    When virtuous Rama, dear to fame,
    Is mourning for his ravished dame.
    Ah me, ah me! a long farewell
    To lawn and glade and forest dell
    In Janasthan’s wild region, where
    The Cassia trees are bright and fair
    With all your tongues to Rama say
    That Ravan bears his wife away.
    Farewell, a long farewell to thee,
    O pleasant stream Godavari,
    Whose rippling waves are ever stirred
    By many a glad wild water-bird!
    All ye to Rama’s ear relate
    The giant’s deed and Sita’s fate.
    O all ye Gods who love this ground
    Where trees of every leaf abound,
    Tell Rama I am stolen hence,
    I pray you all with reverence.
    On all the living things beside
    That these dark boughs and coverts hide,
    Ye flocks of birds, ye troops of deer,
    I call on you my prayer to hear.
    All ye to Rama’s ear proclaim
    That Ravan tears away his dame
    With forceful arms,—his darling wife,
    Dearer to Rama than his life.
    O, if he knew I dwelt in hell,
    My mighty lord, I know full well,
    Would bring me, conqueror, back to-day,
    Though Yama’s self reclaimed his prey.”

    Thus from the air the lady sent
    With piteous voice her last lament,
    And as she wept she chanced to see
    The vulture on a lofty tree.
    As Ravan bore her swiftly by,
    On the dear bird she bent her eye,
    And with a voice which woe made faint
    Renewed to him her wild complaint:

    “O see, the king who rules the race
    Of giants, cruel, fierce and base,
    Ravan the spoiler bears me hence
    The helpless prey of violence.
    This fiend who roves in midnight shade
    By thee, dear bird, can ne’er be stayed,
    For he is armed and fierce and strong
    Triumphant in the power to wrong.
    For thee remains one only task,
    To do, kind friend, the thing I ask.
    To Rama’s ear by thee be borne
    How Sita from her home is torn,
    And to the valiant Lakshman tell
    The giant’s deed and what befell.

    Canto L. Jatayus.

    The vulture from his slumber woke
    And heard the words which Sita spoke
    He raised his eye and looked on her,
    Looked on her giant ravisher.
    That noblest bird with pointed beak,
    Majestic as a mountain peak,
    High on the tree addressed the king
    Of giants, wisely counselling:
    “O Ten-necked lord, I firmly hold
    To faith and laws ordained of old,
    And thou, my brother, shouldst refrain
    From guilty deeds that shame and stain.
    The vulture king supreme in air,
    Jaṭayus is the name I bear.
    Thy captive, known by Sita’s name,
    Is the dear consort and the dame
    Of Rama, Daśaratha’s heir
    Who makes the good of all his care.
    Lord of the world in might he vies
    With the great Gods of seas and skies.
    The law he boasts to keep allows
    No king to touch another’s spouse,
    And, more than all, a prince’s dame
    High honour and respect may claim.
    Back to the earth thy way incline,
    Nor think of one who is not thine.
    Heroic souls should hold it shame
    To stoop to deeds which others blame,
    And all respect by them is shown
    To dames of others as their own.
    Not every case of bliss and gain
    The Scripture’s holy texts explain,
    And subjects, when that light is dim,
    Look to their prince and follow him.
    The king is bliss and profit, he
    Is store of treasures fair to see,
    And all the people’s fortunes spring,
    Their joy and misery, from the king.
    If, lord of giant race, thy mind
    Be fickle, false, to sin inclined,
    How wilt thou kingly place retain?
    High thrones in heaven no sinners gain.
    The soul which gentle passions sway
    Ne’er throws its nobler part away,
    Nor will the mansion of the base
    Long be the good man’s dwelling-place.
    Prince Rama, chief of high renown,
    Has wronged thee not in field or town.
    Ne’er has he sinned against thee: how
    Canst thou resolve to harm him now?
    If moved by Śúrpanakha’s prayer
    The giant Khara sought him there,
    And fighting fell with baffled aim,
    His and not Rama’s is the blame.
    Say, mighty lord of giants, say
    What fault on Rama canst thou lay?
    What has the world’s great master done
    That thou should steal his precious one?
    Quick, quick the Maithil dame release;
    Let Rama’s consort go in peace,
    Lest scorched by his terrific eye
    Beneath his wrath thou fall and die
    Like Vritra when Lord Indra threw
    The lightning flame that smote and slew.
    Ah fool, with blinded eyes to take
    Home to thy heart a venomed snake!
    Ah foolish eyes, too blind to see
    That Death’s dire coils entangle thee!
    The prudent man his strength will spare,
    Nor lift a load too great to bear.
    Content is he with wholesome food
    Which gives him life and strength renewed,
    But who would dare the guilty deed
    That brings no fame or glorious meed,
    Where merit there is none to win
    And vengeance soon o’ertakes the sin?
    My course of life, Pulastya’s son,
    For sixty thousand years has run.
    Lord of my kind I still maintain
    Mine old hereditary reign.
    I, worn by years, am older far
    Than thou, young lord of bow and car,
    In coat of glittering mail encased
    And armed with arrows at thy waist,
    But not unchallenged shalt thou go,
    Or steal the dame without a blow.
    Thou canst not, King, before mine eyes
    Bear off unchecked thy lovely prize,
    Safe as the truth of Scripture bent
    By no close logic’s argument.
    Stay if thy courage let thee, stay
    And meet me in the battle fray,
    And thou shalt stain the earth with gore
    Falling as Khara fell before.
    Soon Rama, clothed in bark, shall smite
    Thee, his proud foe, in deadly fight,—
    Rama, from whom have oft times fled
    The Daitya hosts discomfited.
    No power have I to kill or slay:
    The princely youths are far away,
    But soon shalt thou with fearful eye
    Struck down beneath their arrows lie.
    But while I yet have life and sense,
    Thou shalt not, tyrant, carry hence
    Fair Sita, Rama’s honoured queen,
    With lotus eyes and lovely mien.
    Whate’er the pain, whate’er the cost,
    Though in the struggle life be lost,
    The will of Raghu’s noblest son
    And Daśaratha must be done.
    Stay for a while, O Ravan, stay,
    One hour thy flying car delay,
    And from that glorious chariot thou
    Shalt fall like fruit from shaken bough,
    For I to thee, while yet I live,
    The welcome of a foe will give."

    Canto LI. The Combat.

    Ravan’s red eyes in fury rolled:
    Bright with his armlets’ flashing gold,
    In high disdain, by passion stirred
    He rushed against the sovereign bird.
    With clash and din and furious blows
    Of murderous battle met the foes:
    Thus urged by winds two clouds on high
    Meet warring in the stormy sky.
    Then fierce the dreadful combat raged
    As fiend and bird in war engaged,
    As if two winged mountains sped
    To dire encounter overhead.
    Keen pointed arrows thick and fast,
    In never ceasing fury cast,
    Rained hurtling on the vulture king
    And smote him on the breast and wing.
    But still that noblest bird sustained
    The cloud of shafts which Ravan rained,
    And with strong beak and talons bent
    The body of his foeman rent.
    Then wild with rage the ten-necked king
    Laid ten swift arrows on his string,—
    Dread as the staff of Death were they,
    So terrible and keen to slay.
    Straight to his ear the string he drew,
    Straight to the mark the arrows flew,
    And pierced by every iron head
    The vulture’s mangled body bled.
    One glance upon the car he bent
    Where Sita wept with shrill lament,
    Then heedless of his wounds and pain
    Rushed at the giant king again.
    Then the brave vulture with the stroke
    Of his resistless talons broke
    The giant’s shafts and bow whereon
    The fairest pearls and jewels shone.
    The monster paused, by rage unmanned:
    A second bow soon armed his hand,
    Whence pointed arrows swift and true
    In hundreds, yea in thousands, flew.
    The monarch of the vultures, plied
    With ceaseless darts on every side,
    Showed like a bird that turns to rest
    Close covered by the branch-built nest.
    He shook his pinions to repel
    The storm of arrows as it fell;
    Then with his talons snapped in two
    The mighty bow which Ravan drew.
    Next with terrific wing he smote
    So fiercely on the giant’s coat,
    The harness, glittering with the glow
    Of fire, gave way beneath the blow.
    With storm of murderous strokes he beat
    The harnessed asses strong and fleet,—
    Each with a goblin’s monstrous face
    And plates of gold his neck to grace.
    Then on the car he turned his ire,—
    The will-moved car that shone like fire,
    And broke the glorious chariot, broke
    The golden steps and pole and yoke.
    The chouris and the silken shade
    Like the full moon to view displayed,
    Together with the guards who held
    Those emblems, to the ground he felled.
    The royal vulture hovered o’er
    The driver’s head, and pierced and tore
    With his strong beak and dreaded claws
    His mangled brow and cheek and jaws.
    With broken car and sundered bow,
    His charioteer and team laid low,
    One arm about the lady wound,
    Sprang the fierce giant to the ground.
    Spectators of the combat, all
    The spirits viewed the monster’s fall:
    Lauding the vulture every one
    Cried with glad voice, Well done! well done!
    But weak with length of days, at last
    The vulture’s strength was failing fast.
    The fiend again assayed to bear
    The lady through the fields of air.
    But when the vulture saw him rise
    Triumphant with his trembling prize,
    Bearing the sword that still was left
    When other arms were lost or cleft,
    Once more, impatient of repose,
    Swift from the earth her champion rose,
    Hung in the way the fiend would take,
    And thus addressing Ravan spake:
    “Thou, King of giants, rash and blind,
    Wilt be the ruin of thy kind,
    Stealing the wife of Rama, him
    With lightning scars on chest and limb.
    A mighty host obeys his will
    And troops of slaves his palace fill;
    His lords of state are wise and true,
    Kinsmen has he and retinue.
    As thirsty travellers drain the cup,
    Thou drinkest deadly poison up.
    The rash and careless fool who heeds
    No coming fruit of guilty deeds,
    A few short years of life shall see,
    And perish doomed to death like thee.
    Say whither wilt thou fly to loose
    Thy neck from Death’s entangling noose,
    Caught like the fish that finds too late
    The hook beneath the treacherous bait?
    Never, O King—of this be sure—
    Will Raghu’s fiery sons endure,
    Terrific in their vengeful rage,
    This insult to their hermitage.
    Thy guilty hands this day have done
    A deed which all reprove and shun,
    Unworthly of a noble chief,
    The pillage loved by coward thief.
    Stay, if thy heart allow thee, stay
    And meet me in the deadly fray.
    Soon shall thou stain the earth with gore,
    And fall as Khara fell before.
    The fruits of former deeds o’erpower
    The sinner in his dying hour:
    And such a fate on thee, O King,
    Thy tyranny and madness bring.
    Not e’en the Self-existent Lord,
    Who reigns by all the worlds adored,
    Would dare attempt a guilty deed
    Which the dire fruits of crime succeed.”

    Thus brave Jaṭayus, best of birds,
    Addressed the fiend with moving words,
    Then ready for the swift attack
    Swooped down upon the giant’s back.
    Down to the bone the talons went;
    With many a wound the flesh was rent:
    Such blows infuriate drivers deal
    Their elephants with pointed steel.
    Fixed in his back the strong beak lay,
    The talons stripped the flesh away.
    He fought with claws and beak and wing,
    And tore the long hair of the king.
    Still as the royal vulture beat
    The giant with his wings and feet,
    Swelled the fiend’s lips, his body shook
    With furious rage too great to brook.
    About the Maithil dame he cast
    One huge left arm and held her fast.
    In furious rage to frenzy fanned
    He struck the vulture with his hand.
    Jatayus mocked the vain assay,
    And rent his ten left arms away.
    Down dropped the severed limbs: anew
    Ten others from his body grew:
    Thus bright with pearly radiance glide
    Dread serpents from the hillock side,
    Again in wrath the giant pressed
    The lady closer to his breast,
    And foot and fist sent blow on blow
    In ceaseless fury at the foe.
    So fierce and dire the battle, waged
    Between those mighty champions, raged:
    Here was the lord of giants, there
    The noblest of the birds of air.
    Thus, as his love of Rama taught,
    The faithful vulture strove and fought.
    But Ravan seized his sword and smote
    His wings and side and feet and throat.
    At mangled side and wing he bled;
    He fell, and life was almost fled.
    The lady saw her champion lie,
    His plumes distained with gory dye,
    And hastened to the vulture’s side
    Grieving as though a kinsman died.
    The lord of Lanka’s island viewed
    The vulture as he lay:
    Whose back like some dark cloud was hued,
    His breast a paly grey,
    Like ashes, when by none renewed,
    The flame has died away.
    The lady saw with mournful eye,
    Her champion press the plain,—
    The royal bird, her true ally
    Whom Ravan’s might had slain.
    Her soft arms locked in strict embrace
    Around his neck she kept,
    And lovely with her moon-bright face
    Bent o’er her friend and wept.
    Canto LII. Ravan’s Flight.
    Fair as the lord of silvery rays
    Whom every star in heaven obeys,
    The Maithil dame her plaint renewed
    O’er him by Ravan’s might subdued:
    “Dreams, omens, auguries foreshow
    Our coming lot of weal and woe:
    But thou, my Rama, couldst not see
    The grievous blow which falls on thee.
    The birds and deer desert the brakes
    And show the path my captor takes,
    And thus e’en now this royal bird
    Flew to mine aid by pity stirred
    Slain for my sake in death he lies,
    The broad-winged rover of the skies.
    O Rama, haste, thine aid I crave:
    O Lakshman, why delay to save?
    Brave sons of old Ikshvaku, hear
    And rescue in this hour of fear.”

    Her flowery wreath was torn and rent,
    Crushed was each sparkling ornament.
    She with weak arms and trembling knees
    Clung like a creeper to the trees,
    And like some poor deserted thing
    With wild shrieks made the forest ring.
    But swift the giant reached her side,
    As loud on Rama’s name she cried.
    Fierce as grim Death one hand he laid
    Upon her tresses’ lovely braid.
    “That touch, thou impious King, shall be
    The ruin of thy race and thee.”
    The universal world in awe
    That outrage on the lady saw,
    All nature shook convulsed with dread,
    And darkness o’er the land was spread.
    The Lord of Day grew dark and chill,
    And every breath of air was still.
    The Eternal Father of the sky
    Beheld the crime with heavenly eye,
    And spake with solemn voice, “The deed,
    The deed is done, of old decreed.”
    Sad were the saints within the grove,
    But triumph with their sorrow strove.
    They wept to see the Maithil dame
    Endure the outrage, scorn, and shame:
    They joyed because his life should pay
    The penalty incurred that day.
    Then Ravan raised her up, and bare
    His captive through the fields of air,
    Calling with accents loud and shrill
    On Rama and on Lakshman still.
    With sparkling gems on arm and breast,
    In silk of paly amber dressed,
    High in the air the Maithil dame
    Gleamed like the lightning’s flashing flame.
    The giant, as the breezes blew
    Upon her robes of amber hue,
    And round him twined that gay attire,
    Showed like a mountain girt with fire.
    The lady, fairest of the fair,
    Had wreathed a garland round her hair;
    Its lotus petals bright and sweet
    Rained down about the giant’s feet.
    Her vesture, bright as burning gold,
    Gave to the wind each glittering fold,
    Fair as a gilded cloud that gleams
    Touched by the Day-God’s tempered beams.
    Yet struggling in the fiend’s embrace,
    The lady with her sweet pure face,

    Far from her lord, no longer wore
    The light of joy that shone before.
    Like some sad lily by the side
    Of waters which the sun has dried;
    Like the pale moon uprising through
    An autumn cloud of darkest hue,
    So was her perfect face between
    The arms of giant Ravan seen:
    Fair with the charm of braided tress
    And forehead’s finished loveliness;
    Fair with the ivory teeth that shed
    White lustre through the lips’ fine red,
    Fair as the lotus when the bud
    Is rising from the parent flood.
    With faultless lip and nose and eye,
    Dear as the moon that floods the sky
    With gentle light, of perfect mould,
    She seemed a thing of burnished gold,
    Though on her cheek the traces lay
    Of tears her hand had brushed away.
    But as the moon-beams swiftly fade
    Ere the great Day-God shines displayed,
    So in that form of perfect grace
    Still trembling in the fiend’s embrace,
    From her beloved Rama reft,
    No light of pride or joy was left.
    The lady with her golden hue
    O’er the swart fiend a lustre threw,
    As when embroidered girths enfold
    An elephant with gleams of gold.
    Fair as the lily’s bending stem,—
    Her arms adorned with many a gem,
    A lustre to the fiend she lent
    Gleaming from every ornament,
    As when the cloud-shot flashes light
    The shadows of a mountain height.
    Whene’er the breezes earthward bore
    The tinkling of the zone she wore,
    He seemed a cloud of darkness hue
    Sending forth murmurs as it flew.
    As on her way the dame was sped
    From her sweet neck fair flowers were shed,
    The swift wind caught the flowery rain
    And poured it o’er the fiend again.
    The wind-stirred blossoms, sweet to smell,
    On the dark brows of Ravan fell,
    Like lunar constellations set
    On Meru for a coronet.
    From her small foot an anklet fair
    With jewels slipped, and through the air,
    Like a bright circlet of the flame
    Of thunder, to the valley came.
    The Maithil lady, fair to see
    As the young leaflet of a tree
    Clad in the tender hues of spring,
    Flashed glory on the giant king,
    As when a gold-embroidered zone
    Around an elephant is thrown.
    While, bearing far the lady, through
    The realms of sky the giant flew,
    She like a gleaming meteor cast
    A glory round her as she passed.
    Then from each limb in swift descent
    Dropped many a sparkling ornament:
    On earth they rested dim and pale
    Like fallen stars when virtues fail.(\^{33}\)
    Around her neck a garland lay
    Bright as the Star-God’s silvery ray:
    It fell and flashed like Ganga sent
    From heaven above the firmament.(\^{34}\)
    The birds of every wing had flocked
    To stately trees by breezes rocked:
    These bowed their wind-swept heads and said:
    “My lady sweet, be comforted.”
    With faded blooms each brook within
    Whose waters moved no gleamy fin,
    Stole sadly through the forest dell
    Mourning the dame it loved so well.
    From every woodland region near
    Came lions, tigers, birds, and deer,
    And followed, each with furious look,
    The way her flying shadow took.
    For Sita’s loss each lofty hill
    Whose tears were waterfall, and rill,
    Lifting on high each arm-like steep,
    Seemed in the general woe to weep.
    When the great sun, the lord of day,
    Saw Ravan tear the dame away,
    His glorious light began to fail
    And all his disk grew cold and pale.
    “If Ravan from the forest flies
    With Rama’s Sita as his prize,
    Justice and truth have vanished hence,
    Honour and right and innocence.”
    Thus rose the cry of wild despair
    From spirits as they gathered there.
    In trembling troops in open lawns
    Wept, wild with woe, the startled fawns,
    And a strange terror changed the eyes
    They lifted to the distant skies.
    On silvan Gods who love the dell
    A sudden fear and trembling fell,
    As in the deepest woe they viewed
    The lady by the fiend subdued.
    Still in loud shrieks was heard afar
    That voice whose sweetness naught could mar,
    While eager looks of fear and woe
    She bent upon the earth below.
    The lady of each winning wile
    With pearly teeth and lovely smile,
    Seized by the lord of Lanka’s isle,
    Looked down for friends in vain.
    She saw no friend to aid her, none,
    Not Rama nor the younger son
    Of Daśaratha, and undone
    She swooned with fear and pain

    Canto LIII. Sita’s Threats.

    Soon as the Maithil lady knew
    That high through air the giant flew,
    Distressed with grief and sore afraid
    Her troubled spirit sank dismayed.
    Then, as anew the waters welled
    From those red eyes which sorrow swelled,
    Forth in keen words her passion broke,
    And to the fierce-eyed fiend she spoke:
    “Canst thou attempt a deed so base,
    Untroubled by the deep disgrace,—
    To steal me from my home and fly,
    When friend or guardian none was nigh?
    Thy craven soul that longed to steal,
    Fearing the blows that warriors deal,
    Upon a magic deer relied
    To lure my husband from my side,
    Friend of his sire, the vulture king
    Lies low on earth with mangled wing,
    Who gave his aged life for me
    And died for her he sought to free.
    Ah, glorious strength indeed is thine,
    Thou meanest of thy giant line,
    Whose courage dared to tell thy name
    And conquer in the fight a dame.
    Does the vile deed that thou hast done
    Cause thee no shame, thou wicked one—
    A woman from her home to rend
    When none was near his aid to lend?
    Through all the worlds, O giant King,
    The tidings of this deed will ring,
    This deed in law and honour’s spite
    By one who claims a hero’s might.
    Shame on thy boasted valour, shame!
    Thy prowess is an empty name.
    Shame, giant, on this cursed deed
    For which thy race is doomed to bleed!
    Thou fliest swifter than the gale,
    For what can strength like thine avail?
    Stay for one hour, O Ravan, stay;
    Thou shalt not flee with life away.
    Soon as the royal chieftains’ sight
    Falls on the thief who roams by night,
    Thou wilt not, tyrant, live one hour
    Though backed by all thy legions’ power.
    Ne’er can thy puny strength sustain
    The tempest of their arrowy rain:
    Have e’er the trembling birds withstood
    The wild flames raging in the wood?
    Hear me, O Ravan, let me go,
    And save thy soul from coming woe.
    Or if thou wilt not set me free,
    Wroth for this insult done to me.
    With his brave brother’s aid my lord
    Against thy life will raise his sword.
    A guilty hope inflames thy breast
    His wife from Rama’s home to wrest.
    Ah fool, the hope thou hast is vain;
    Thy dreams of bliss shall end in pain.
    If torn from all I love by thee
    My godlike lord no more I see,
    Soon will I die and end my woes,
    Nor live the captive of my foes.
    Ah fool, with blinded eyes to choose
    The evil and the good refuse!
    So the sick wretch with stubborn will
    Turns fondly to the cates that kill,
    And madly draws his lips away
    From medicine that would check decay.
    About thy neck securely wound

    The deadly coil of Fate is bound,
    And thou, O Ravan, dost not fear
    Although the hour of death is near.
    With death-doomed sight thine eyes behold
    The gleaming of the trees of gold,—
    See dread Vaitarani, the flood
    That rolls a stream of foamy blood,—
    See the dark wood by all abhorred—
    Its every leaf a threatening sword.
    The tangled thickets thou shall tread
    Where thorns with iron points are spread.
    For never can thy days be long,
    Base plotter of this shame and wrong
    To Rama of the lofty soul:
    He dies who drinks the poisoned bowl.
    The coils of death around thee lie:
    They hold thee and thou canst not fly.
    Ah whither, tyrant, wouldst thou run
    The vengeance of my lord to shun?
    By his unaided arm alone
    Were twice seven thousand fiends o’erthrown:
    Yes, in the twinkling of an eye
    He forced thy mightiest fiends to die.
    And shall that lord of lion heart,
    Skilled in the bow and spear and dart,
    Spare thee, O fiend, in battle strife,
    The robber of his darling wife?”

    These were her words, and more beside,
    By wrath and bitter hate supplied.
    Then by her woe and fear o’erthrown
    She wept again and made her moan.
    As long she wept in grief and dread,
    Scarce conscious of the words she said,
    The wicked giant onward fled
    And bore her through the air.
    As firm he held the Maithil dame,
    Still wildly struggling, o’er her frame
    With grief and bitter misery came
    The trembling of despair.

    Canto LIV. Lanka.

    He bore her on in rapid flight,
    And not a friend appeared in sight.
    But on a hill that o’er the wood
    Raised its high top five monkeys stood.
    From her fair neck her scarf she drew,
    And down the glittering vesture flew.
    With earring, necklet, chain, and gem,
    Descending in the midst of them:
    “For these,” she thought, “my path may show,
    And tell my lord the way I go.”
    Nor did the fiend, in wild alarm,
    Mark when she drew from neck and arm
    And foot the gems and gold, and sent
    To earth each gleaming ornament.
    The monkeys raised their tawny eyes
    That closed not in their first surprise,
    And saw the dark-eyed lady, where
    She shrieked above them in the air.
    High o’er their heads the giant passed
    Holding the weeping lady fast.
    O’er Pampa’s flashing flood he sped
    And on to Lanka’s city fled.
    He bore away in senseless joy
    The prize that should his life destroy,
    Like the rash fool who hugs beneath
    His robe a snake with venomed teeth.
    Swift as an arrow from a bow,
    Speeding o’er lands that lay below,
    Sublime in air his course he took
    O’er wood and rock and lake and brook.
    He passed at length the sounding sea
    Where monstrous creatures wander free,—
    Seat of Lord Varun’s ancient reign,
    Controller of the eternal main.
    The angry waves were raised and tossed
    As Ravan with the lady crossed,
    And fish and snake in wild unrest
    Showed flashing fin and gleaming crest.
    Then from the blessed troops who dwell
    In air celestial voices fell:
    “O ten-necked King,” they cried, “attend:
    This guilty deed will bring thine end.”

    Then Ravan speeding like the storm,
    Bearing his death in human form,
    The struggling Sita, lighted down
    In royal Lanka’s glorious town;
    A city bright and rich, that showed
    Well-ordered street and noble road;
    Arranged with just division, fair
    With multitudes in court and square.
    Thus, all his journey done, he passed
    Within his royal home at last.
    There in a queenly bower he placed
    The black-eyed dame with dainty waist:
    Thus in her chamber Maya laid
    The lovely Maya, demon maid.
    Then Ravan gave command to all
    The dread she-fiends who filled the hall:
    “This captive lady watch and guard
    From sight of man and woman barred.
    But all the fair one asks beside
    Be with unsparing hand supplied:
    As though ‘twere I that asked, withhold
    No pearls or dress or gems or gold.
    And she among you that shall dare
    Of purpose or through want of care
    One word to vex her soul to say,
    Throws her unvalued life away.”

    Thus spake the monarch of their race
    To those she-fiends who thronged the place,
    And pondering on the course to take
    Went from the chamber as he spake.
    He saw eight giants, strong and dread,
    On flesh of bleeding victims fed,
    Proud in the boon which Brahma gave,
    And trusting in its power to save.
    He thus the mighty chiefs addressed
    Of glorious power and strength possessed:
    “Arm, warriors, with the spear and bow;
    With all your speed from Lanka go,
    For Janasthan, our own no more,
    Is now defiled with giants’ gore;
    The seat of Khara’s royal state
    Is left unto us desolate.
    In your brave hearts and might confide,
    And cast ignoble fear aside.
    Go, in that desert region dwell
    Where the fierce giants fought and fell.
    A glorious host that region held,
    For power and might unparalleled,
    By Dúshan and brave Khara led,—
    All, slain by Rama’s arrows, bled.
    Hence boundless wrath that spurns control
    Reigns paramount within my soul,
    And naught but Rama’s death can sate
    The fury of my vengeful hate.
    I will not close my slumbering eyes
    Till by this hand my foeman dies.
    And when mine arm has slain the foe
    Who laid those giant princes low,
    Long will I triumph in the deed,
    Like one enriched in utmost need.
    Now go; that I this end may gain,
    In Janasthan, O chiefs, remain.
    Watch Rama there with keenest eye,
    And all his deeds and movements spy.
    Go forth, no helping art neglect,
    Be brave and prompt and circumspect,
    And be your one endeavour still
    To aid mine arm this foe to kill.
    Oft have I seen your warrior might
    Proved in the forehead of the fight,
    And sure of strength I know so well
    Send you in Janasthan to dwell.”
    The giants heard with prompt assent
    The pleasant words he said,
    And each before his master bent
    For meet salute, his head.
    Then as he bade, without delay,
    From Lanka’s gate they passed,
    And hurried forward on their way
    Invisible and fast.

    Canto LV. Sita In Prison.

    Thus Ravan his commandment gave
    To those eight giants strong and brave,
    So thinking in his foolish pride
    Against all dangers to provide.
    Then with his wounded heart aflame
    With love he thought upon the dame,
    And took with hasty steps the way
    To the fair chamber where she lay.
    He saw the gentle lady there
    Weighed down by woe too great to bear,
    Amid the throng of fiends who kept
    Their watch around her as she wept:
    A pinnace sinking neath the wave
    When mighty winds around her rave:
    A lonely herd-forsaken deer,
    When hungry dogs are pressing near.
    Within the bower the giant passed:
    Her mournful looks were downward cast.
    As there she lay with streaming eyes
    The giant bade the lady rise,
    And to the shrinking captive showed
    The glories of his rich abode,
    Where thousand women spent their days
    In palaces with gold ablaze;
    Where wandered birds of every sort,
    And jewels flashed in hall and court.
    Where noble pillars charmed the sight
    With diamond and lazulite,
    And others glorious to behold
    With ivory, crystal, silver, gold.
    There swelled on high the tambour’s sound,
    And burnished ore was bright around
    He led the mournful lady where
    Resplendent gold adorned the stair,
    And showed each lattice fair to see
    With silver work and ivory:
    Showed his bright chambers, line on line,
    Adorned with nets of golden twine.
    Beyond he showed the Maithil dame
    His gardens bright as lightning’s flame,
    And many a pool and lake he showed
    Where blooms of gayest colour glowed.
    Through all his home from view to view
    The lady sunk in grief he drew.
    Then trusting in her heart to wake
    Desire of all she saw, he spake:
    “Three hundred million giants, all
    Obedient to their master’s call,
    Not counting young and weak and old,
    Serve me with spirits fierce and bold.
    A thousand culled from all of these
    Wait on the lord they long to please.
    This glorious power, this pomp and sway,
    Dear lady, at thy feet I lay:
    Yea, with my life I give the whole,
    O dearer than my life and soul.
    A thousand beauties fill my hall:
    Be thou my wife and rule them all.
    O hear my supplication! why
    This reasonable prayer deny?
    Some pity to thy suitor show,
    For love’s hot flames within me glow.
    This isle a hundred leagues in length,
    Encompassed by the ocean’s strength,
    Would all the Gods and fiends defy
    Though led by Him who rules the sky.
    No God in heaven, no sage on earth,
    No minstrel of celestial birth,
    No spirit in the worlds I see
    A match in power and might for me.
    What wilt thou do with Rama, him
    Whose days are short, whose light is dim,
    Expelled from home and royal sway,
    Who treads on foot his weary way?
    Leave the poor mortal to his fate,
    And wed thee with a worthier mate.
    My timid love, enjoy with me
    The prime of youth before it flee.
    Do not one hour the hope retain
    To look on Rama’s face again.
    For whom would wildest thought beguile
    To seek thee in the giants’ isle?
    Say who is he has power to bind
    In toils of net the rushing wind.
    Whose is the mighty hand will tame
    And hold the glory of the flame?
    In all the worlds above, below,
    Not one, O fair of form, I know
    Who from this isle in fight could rend
    The lady whom these arms defend.
    Fair Queen, o’er Lanka’s island reign,
    Sole mistress of the wide domain.
    Gods, rovers of the night like me,
    And all the world thy slaves will be.
    O’er thy fair brows and queenly head
    Let consecrating balm be shed,
    And sorrow banished from thy breast,
    Enjoy my love and take thy rest.
    Here never more thy soul shall know
    The memory of thy former woe,
    And here shall thou enjoy the meed
    Deserved by every virtuous deed.
    Here garlands glow of flowery twine,
    With gorgeous hues and scent divine.
    Take gold and gems and rich attire:
    Enjoy with me thy heart’s desire.
    There stand, of chariots far the best,
    The car my brother once possessed.
    Which, victor in the stricken field,
    I forced the Lord of Gold to yield.
    ‘Tis wide and high and nobly wrought,
    Bright as the sun and swift as thought.
    Therein O Sita, shalt thou ride
    Delighted by thy lover’s side.
    But sorrow mars with lingering trace
    The splendour of thy lotus face.
    A cloud of woe is o’er it spread,
    And all the light of joy is fled.”

    The lady, by her woe distressed,
    One corner of her raiment pressed
    To her sad cheek like moonlight clear,
    And wiped away a falling tear.
    The rover of the night renewed
    His eager pleading as he viewed
    The lady stand like one distraught,
    Striving to fix her wandering thought:

    “Think not, sweet lady, of the shame
    Of broken vows, nor fear the blame.
    The saints approve with favouring eyes
    This union knit with marriage ties.
    O beauty, at thy radiant feet
    I lay my heads, and thus entreat.
    One word of grace, one look I crave:
    Have pity on thy prostrate slave.
    These idle words I speak are vain,
    Wrung forth by love’s consuming pain,
    And ne’er of Ravan be it said
    He wooed a dame with prostrate head.”
    Thus to the Maithil lady sued
    The monarch of the giant brood,
    And “She is now mine own,” he thought,
    In Death’s dire coils already caught.

    1 All summaries (with some editing for grammar, spelling, and clarity) are from the Wikipedia page on The Ramayana.

    2 The swayamvara is the process in which a young woman chooses a husband from a list of eligible suitors. Typically the swayamvara includes the analysis of the groom’s natal chart. (RLK)

    3 Raghu was one of the most celebrated ancestors of Rama whose commonest appellation is, therefore, Raghava or descendant of Raghu

    4 One of the most prominent objects of worship in the Rig-Veda [ancient Indian Sanskrit hymns], Indra was superseded in later times by the more popular deities Vishnu and Siva. He is the God of the firmament, and answers in many respects to the Jupiter Pluvius of the Romans.

    5 The sea.

    6 The youngest of the three queens; mother of Bharat; at this point she has already demanded Rama’s banishment, but he is unaware (RLK).

    7 Bharat and Shatrughna are Rama’s half-brothers who are out of town (RLK).

    8 pity (RLK)

    9 Cows (RLK).

    10 The moon.

    11 Fans (RLK)

    12 Rama’s mother (RLK).

    13 Sita. Videha was the country of which Mithila was the capital.

    14 The Lord of Speech and preceptor of the Gods.

    15 Pisces (RLK).

    16 The highest caste, the priesthood (RLK).

    17 Janak (Janaka) is Sita’s father; he is King of Mithila.

    18 old age (RLK)

    19 of or related to the woods (RLK)

    20 consort of Brahma (RLK).

    21 Fire for sacrificial purposes is produced by the attrition of two pieces of wood.

    22 Kaikeyi.

    23 A race of beings of human shape but with the heads of horses, like centaurs reversed.

    24 The favourite wife of the Moon.

    25 The planet Saturn.

    26 Another favourite of the Moon; one of the lunar mansions.

    27 The Rudras, agents in creation, are eight in number; they sprang from the forehead of Brahma.

    28 Maruts, the attendants of Indra.

    29 Radiant demi-gods.

    30 Demon.

    31 The mountain which was used by the Gods as a churning stick at the Churning of the Ocean.

    32 Mercury: to be carefully distinguished from Buddha.

    33 The spirits of the good dwell in heaven until their store of accumulated merit is exhausted. Then they redescend to earth in the form of falling stars.

    34 See The Descent of Ganga, Book I Canto XLIV.

    This page titled 3.4: The Ramayana is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Laura Getty & Kyounghye Kwon (University of North Georgia Press) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.

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