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6 ?? Sreeniuasa ^Tiyangar 




* - Valmeeki 




(. ^ ^reenivasa jHv$oiu$ar, B. A., 



Balakanda and N 


> 1910. % 


Copyright ftpfiglwtd. 3 - , [ JJf JB^/to Reserved 


The Ramayana of Valmeeki is a most unique work. 
The Aryans are the oldest race on earth and the most 
* advanced ; and the Ramayana is their first and grandest 

The Eddas of Scandinavia, the Niebelungen Lied of 
Germany, the Iliad of Homer, the Enead of Virgil, the 
Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso of Dante, the 
Paradise Lost of Milton, the Lusiad of Camcens, the Shah 
Nama of Firdausi are Epics and no more ; the Ramayana 
of Valmeeki is an Epic and much more. 

If any work can clam} to be the Bible of the Hindus, 
it is the Ramayana of Valmeeki. 

Professor MacDonell, the latest writer on Samskritha 
Literature, says : 

" The Epic contains the following verse foretelling its 
everlasting fame 

* As long as moynfain ranges stand 

And rivers flow upon the earth, 
So long will this Ramayana 
Survive upon the lips of men. 

This prophecy has been perhaps even more abundantly 
fulfilled than the well-known prediction of Horace. No pro- 
duct of Sanskrit Literature has enjoyed a greater popularity 
in India down to the present day than the Ramayana. Its 
story furnishes the subject of many other Sanskrit poems 
as well as plays and still delights, from the lips* of reciters, 
the hearts of the myriads of the Indian people, as at the 


great annual Rama-festival held at Benares. It has been 
translated into many Indian vernaculars. Above all, it 
inspired the greatest poet of medieval Hindustan, Tulasi 
Das, to compose in Hindi his version of the epic entitled 
Ram Chant Manas, which, with its ideal standard of 
virtue and purity, is a kind of Bible to a hundred millions 
of the people of Northern India." Sanskrit Literature, 
p. 317. So much for the version. 

It is a fact within the personal observation of the 
elders of our country, that witnesses swear upon a copy of 
the Ramayana in the law-courts. Any one called upon 
to pay an unjust debt contents himself with saying, " I will 
place the money upon the Ramayana , let him take it if he 
dares." In private life, the expression, " I swear by the 
Ramayana/' is an inviolable oath I know instances where 
sums of money were lent upon no other security than a palm 
leaf manuscript of the Ramayana too precious a Talisman 
to lose When a man yearns for a son to continue his line 
on earth and raise him to the Mansions of the Blessed, the 
Elders advise him to read the Ramayana or hear it recited, 
or at least the Sundarakanda When a man has some 
great issue at stake that will either mend or mar his life, he 
reads the Sundarakanda or hears it expounded. When a 
man is very ill, past medical help, the old people about him 
say with one voice, " Read the Sundarakanda in the house 
and Maruthi will bring him back to life and health " When 
an evil spirit troubles sore a man or a woman, the grey- 
beards wag their wise heads and oracularly exclaim, " Ah f 
the Sundarakanda never fails " When any one desires to 
know the result of a contemplated project, he desires a 
child to open a page of the Sundarakanda and decides by 
the nature of the subject dealt with therein. (Here is a 
case in point. A year or two ago, I was asked by a young 
man to advise him whether he should marry or lead a life 


<fc single blessedness. I promised to give him an 
answer a day or two later. When I was alone, 
I took up my Ramayana and asked my child to 
open it. And lo ! the first line that met my eye was 

Kumbhakarna-siro bhathi 
Kundala-lamkntam mahaili. 

" The severed head of Kumbhakarna shone high and 
huge in the heavens, its splendour heightened by the ear- 
rings he wore." 

I had not the heart to communicate the result to 
the poor man. His people had made everything 
ready for his marriage. I could plainly sec that his 
inclinations too lay that way. I could urge nothing 
against it his health was good, and his worldly position 
and prospects high and bright. Ah me f I was myself half- 
sceptical So, quite against my better self, I managed to 
avoid giving him an answer. And he, taking my silence 
for consent, got himself married Alas ! within a year his 
place in his house was vacant , his short meteoric life was 
over , his health shattered, his public life a failure, his 
mind darkened and gloomy by the vision ot his future, 
Death was a welcome deliverer to him , and an old mother 
and a child-wife are left to mourn his untimely end. 

The Karma-kanda of the Vedas, the Upamshads, the 
Smnthis, the Mahabharatha, the Puranas, nay, no other 
work in the vast range of Samskntha literature is regarded 
by the Hindus in the same light as the Ramayana The 
Karma-kanda is accessible only to a very few, an infini- 
tesimal minority of the Brahmanas the Purohiths who 
are making a living out of it , and they too know not its 
meaning, but recite it parrot-like. The Upamshads are not 
for the men of the world , they are for hard-headed 
logicianb or calm-minded philosophers. The Smnthib are 


but Rules of daily life. The Bharatha is not a very auspi- 
cious work ; no devout Hindu would allow it to be read in 
in his house, for it brings on strife, dissensions and misfor- 
tune ; the temple of the Gods, the Mathas of Sanyasms, the 
river-ghauts, and the rest-houses for the travellers are chosen 
for the purpose The Bhagavad-geetha enjoys a unique 
unpopularity ; for, he who reads or studies it is weaned 
away from wife and child, house and home, friends and 
km, wealth and power and seeks the Path of Renunciation. 
The Puranas are but world-records, religious histories. 

But, for a work that gives a man everything he holds 
dear and valuable in this world and leads him to the Feet of 
the Almighty Father, give me the Ramayana of Valmeeki. 

The Lord of Mercy has come down among men time 
and oft ; and the Puranas contain incidental records of 
it short or long. But, the Ramayana of Valmeeki is the 
only biography we have of the Supreme One. 

" Nothing that relates to any of the actors in that great 
world-drama shall 'escape thy all-seeing eye Rama, 
Lakshmana, Seetha, men and monkeys, gods and 
Rakshasas, their acts, their words, nay, their very thoughts, 
known or secret. Nothing that comes out of your mouth, 
consciously or otherwise, shall prove other than true/' 
Such was the power of clear vision and clear speech con- 
ferred on the poet by the Demiurge, the Ancient of Days. 

" What nobler subject for your poem than Sree Rama- 
chandra, the Divine Hero, the soul of righteousness, the 
perfect embodiment of all that is good and great and the 
Director of men's thoughts, words and deeds in the light 
of their Karma ? " And this Ideal Man is the Hero of 
the Epic. 

"The cloud-capped mouritains, the swift-coursing 
livers and all created things shdDl passe way and be as 

taught. But, your noble song shall outlive them and never 
fade from the hearts of men." This is the boon of immor- 
tality the poem shall enjoy. 

" And as long as the record of Rama's life holds sway 
over the hearts of men, so long shall you sit by me in my 
highest heaven/' This is the eternity of fame that comes 
to the singer as his guerdon 

The Hero, the Epic, and the Poet are the most perfect 
any one can conceive. 

It was composed when the Hero was yet upon earth, 
when his deeds and fame were fresh in the hearts of men. 
It was sung before himself. "And the poem they recite, 
how wonderful in its suggestivencss ' Listen we to it" 
such was ///,s estimate of the lay. 

It was not written, but sung to sweet music Who were 
they that conveyed the message to the hearts of men ? The 
very sous of the Divine Hero, "Mark you the radiant glory 
that plays around them ' Liker gods than men ! . . . . 
Behold these young ascetics, of kingly form and mien. Rare 
singers are they and of mighty spiritual energy withal" and 
this encomium was from him who is Incarnate Wisdom. 

What audience did they sing to ' ''Large concourses 
of Brahmanas and warriors, sages and saints . . . .Through 
many a land they travelled and sang to many an audience. 

Thus many a time and oft did these boys recite it in 
crowded halls and broad streets, in sacred groves and 
sacrificial grounds And Rama invited to the as- 
sembly the literati, the theologians, the expounders of 
sacred histories, grammarians, Brahmanas grown grey in 
knowledge and experience, phonologists, musical experts, 
poets, rhetoricians, logicians, ritualists, philosophers, 
astronomers, astrologers, geographers, linguists, statesmen 
politicians, professors of music and dancing, painters 


sculptors, minstrels, physiognomists, kings, merchant^, 
farmers, saints, sages, hermits, ascetics ... ." 

What was the ettect produced on the hearers ? 

" And such the pcrlectness of expression and delicacy 
of execution, that the hearers followed them with their 
hearts and ears , and such the marvellous power of their 
song, that an indescribable sense of bhs^ gradually stole 
over them and pervaded their frame and e\ery sense and 
faculty of theirs strange, overpowering and almost painful 
in its intensity " 

What was the cutical estimate ot the audience ; 

"What charming musK ' what sweetness and melody 
of verse ' And then, the vividness of narration ' We seem to 
live and move among old times and scenes long gone by. . 

A rare and noble epic this, the Ramavana of honeyed 
verses and faultless diction, beautifully adapted to music, 
vocal or instrumental and charming to hear , begun and 
finished according to the best canons of the art, the most 
exacting critic cannot praise it too highly , the first of its 
kind and an unapproachable ideal for all time to come , the 
best model for all future poets , the thrice-distilled Essence 
of the Holy Scriptures , the surest giver oi health and 
happiness, length of years and prosperity, to all who read 
or listen to it. And, proficients as ye are in cverv style of 
music, marvellously have ye sung it." 

But what raises Ramayana from the sphere oi literary 
works into " a mighty repository of the priceless wisdom 
enshrined in the Veelas ' ' The sacred monosyllable, the 
Pranava, is the mystic symbol of the Absolute , the Gayathn 
is an exposition of the Pranava , the Vedas are the paraphrase 
of the Gayathn , and the Ramayana is but the amplification 
of the Vedic mysteries and lurmshes the key thereto. Each 
letter of the Gayathn begins a thousand ot its stanzas. 


\ The p^em is based upon the hymns of the Rig-veda 
aught to the author bv Narada For, it is not a record of 
incidents that occurred during a certain cycle ; it is 
a symbolical account of cosmic events that come about m 
every cycle with but slight modifications , Rama, Seetha, 
Ravana and the other characteis in the Epu are arcJietvpes 
and real characters a mystery within a mvsterv The 
numerous k( Inner Meanings " of the Ramasana (vide 
Introduction) amph bear out the above remarks 

There IN not one relation of hie, ptuate or public, 
but is beautifully and perfectly illustrated in the woids and 
deeds of the Ramavana characters (vide lyJ^^JMLJlon The 
Aims of Life 1 ) 

It is not a poem of an\ one 
world-asset , it must find a 
town, in everx village and in 


(a). Tlie Rental recension Ch< 
Sardinia, helped Gorressio to bring 
of it m 1S(57 

(b) The Renare^ mention. Between ISO,") 1H10, 
Carey and Marshman, the philanthiopic missionaries 
of Serampore, published the text of the hrst h\o kandas and 
a halt In 1S4<>, Sehlegel brought <mt an edition oi the 
text oi the first two kandas In 1 *,?), the complete text 
was lithographed at Bombav, and in ISfjO, a printed edi- 
tion ot the same appeared at Calcutta 

(r) The South Indian retention While the first two 
recensions are in Devanagan, this exists in the Grantha 
characters or in the Telugu This uas unknown to the 
west and to the other parts of India until ll)0r>, when Mr. 
T. R. Knshnacharya of Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency, 


conferred a great boon upon the literary world by publish- 
ing a fine edition of it in Devanagari (1905). The earliest 
Grantha edition was published in Madras in 1891 by Mr. 
K. Subramanya Sastry, with the commentaries of Govmda- 
raja, Mahesa-theertha, Ramanuja, Teeka-siromam and 
Pena-vachchan-Pillai. Mr. Raja Sastry of Madras has 
almost finished another edition of the same (1907), supple- 
menting the above commentaries with that of Thilaka (till 
now accessible only in Devanagari). It shows a considera- 
ble improvement in the matter of paper, type, printing 
and get-up. Meanwhile, Mr Knshnacharya has begun 
another beautiful edition of his text (1911) with the 
commentary of Goymdaraja and extracts from Thilaka, 
Theertheeya, Ramanujeeya, Sathyadharma-theertheeya, 
Thanisloki, Siromam, Vishamapada-vivnthi, Kathaka, 
Munibhavaprakasika etc. It will, when completed, place 
before the world many a rare and priceless information in- 
accessible till now. 


1. Govindaraja. He names his work the Ramayana- 
Bhooshana " an ornament to the Ramayana, " ; and each 
kanda furnishes a variety of it the anklets, the silk -cloth, 
the girdle, the pearl necklace, the beauty-mark between the 
eye-brows, the tiara and the crest-gem. He is of the 
Kausikas and the disciple of Sathakopa. The Lord Venka- 
tesa appeared to him in a dream one night while he lay 
asleep in front of His shrine on the Serpent Mount and 
commanded him to write a commentary on the Ramayana ; 
and in devout obedience to the Divine call, he undertook 
the task and right manfully has he performed it. It is the 
most comprehensive, the most scholarly and the most 
authoritative commentary on the Sacred Epic, albeit his 
zealous Vaishnavite spirit surges up now and then in a hi- 
at Siya and the Saivites, Priceless gems of traditional 


pretations and oral instructions are embedded in his monu- 
mental work. 

2. Mahesa-theertha. He declares himself to be the 
pupil of Narayana-theertha and has named his work Rama- 
yana-thathva-deepika. " I have but written down the 
opinions of various great men and have nothing of my own 
to give, except where I have tried to explain the inner 
meaning of the remarks made by Viradha, Khara, Vali 
and Ravana ". In fact, he copies out the commentary of 
Govindaraja bodily. He quotes Teeka-siromam and is 
criticised by Rama-panditha in his Thilaka. 

3. Rama-pan ditha. His commentary, the Rama- 
yana-thilaka, was the only one accessible to the 
world (outside of southern India), being printed in 
Devanagan characters at Calcutta and Bombay. He 
quotes from and criticises the Ramayana-thathva- 
deepika and the Kathaka, but makes no reference to 
Govindaraja. It may be the that work of the latter, 
being in the Grantha characters, was not available to him 
in Northern India; and Theertha might have studied it 
in the South and written his commentary in the Devana- 
gan. Rama-panditha is a thorough-going, uncompromising 
Adwaithin, and jeers mercilessly at Theertha's esoteric 
interpretations. In the Grantha edition of the Ramayana, 
the Uthtnarakanda is commented upon only by Govindaraja 
and Theertha ; but, the Devanagan edition with the com- 
mentary of Rama-panditha, contains word for word, without 
a single alteration, the gloss of Mahesatheertha M I have 
tried in vain to explain or reconcile this enigma. But, the 
Adwaithic tenor of the arguments and the frequent criticisms 
of Kathaka, savor more of Rama-panditha than of Theertha. 

4. Kathaka. I have not been able to find out the 
author of the commentary so named, which exists only in 
the extracts quoted in the Thilaka. 


5. Ramanuja. He confines himself mainly to a di#- 
cussion of the various readings of the text. What comment- 
ary he chances to write now and then, is not very valuable. 
He is not to be confounded with the famous Founder of 
the Visishtadwaitha School of Philosophy. 

6. Thanislokt, Knshna-Samahvaya or as he is more 
popularly known by his Tamil cognomen, Pena-vachchan 
Pillay, is the author of it. It is not a regular commentary 
upon the Ramayana. He selects certain oft-quoted stanzas 
and writes short essays upon them, which are much admir- 
ed by the people of the South, and form the cram-book of 
the professional expounder of the Rarnayana. It is written 
in Manipravala a curious combination of Samskntha and 
Tamil, with quaint idioms and curious twists of language. 
Many of the explanations are far-fetched and wire-drawn 
and reveal a spirit of Vaishnavite sectarianism. 

7. Abhaya-pradana-sara. Sree Vedantha-desika, the 
most prominent personage after Sree Ramanuja, is the 
author of this treatise. It selects the incident of Vibheeshana 
seeking refuge with Rama (Vibheeshana-saranagathi) as a 
typical illustration of the key-rote of the Ramayana the 
doctrine of Surrender to the Lord, and deals with the subject 
exhaustively. It is written in the Manipravala, as most of 
his Tamil works are. 


Gorresio published an Italian rendering of the work 
in 1870, It was followed by the French translation of 
Hippolyte Fauche's. In the year 1846, Schlegel gave to 
the world a Latin version of the first Kanda and a part of the 
second. The Serampore Missionaries were the first to 
give the Ramayana an English garb ; but they proceeded 
no further than two Kandas and a half. Mr. Griffith, Prin- 
cipal of the Benares College, was the first to translate the 


Ramayana into English verse (187074). But, the latest 
translation of Valmeeki's immortal epic into English prose 
is that of Manmathanath Dutt, M. A., Calcutta (1894). 

" Then why go over the same ground and inflict upon the 
public another translation of the Ramayana m English prose?" 

1 . Mr. Dutt has translated but the text of Valmeeki 
and that almost too literally ; he has not placed before the 
readers the priceless gems of information contained in the 

2. The text that, I think, he has used is the one pub- 
lished with the commentary of Rama-panditha, which 
differs widely from the South Indian Grantha text in read- 
ings and IK the number of stanzas and chapters. 

3 More often than once, his rendering is completely 
wide of the maik. (It is neither useful nor graceful to make 
a list of all such instances. A careful comparison of his 
rendering with mine is all I request of any impartial scholar 
of Samskntha). 

4. I venture to think that his translation conveys not 
to a Westerner the beauty, the spirit, the swing, the force 
and the grandeur of the original 

5, Even supposing that it is a faultless rendering of 
a faultless text, it is not all that is required. 

G. As is explained in the Introduction, the greatness 
of the Ramayana lies in its profound suggestiveness ; and no 
literal word-for-word rendering will do the barest justice to it. 

7. Many incidents, customs, manners, usages and 
traditions of the time of Rama are hinted at or left to be in- 
ferred, being within the knowledge of the persons to whom 
the poem was sung ; but to the modern world they are a 
sealed book. 

8. Even such of the above as have lived down to our 
times are so utterly changed, altered, nidified and over-laid 
by the accretions of ages as to be almost unrecognisable. 


9. The same incident is variously related in various 

Every one of the eighteen Puranas, as also the Maha- 
bharatha, the Adhyathma Ramayana and the Ananda Rama- 
yana, relates the coming down of the Lord as Sree Rama, but 
with great divergences of detail ; while the Padmapurana 
narrates the life and doings of Sree Rama in a former Kalpa, 
which differs very much in the main from the Ramayana 
of Valmeeki. The Adbhutha Ramayana and the Vasishtha 
Ramayana deal at great length with certain incidents in the 
life of Rama as are not touched upon by Valmeeki ; while 
the Ananda Ramayana devotes eight Kandas to the history 
of Rama after he was crowned at Ayodhya. Innumerable 
poems and plays founded upon Valmeeki's epic modify its 
incidents greatly, but base themselves on some Purana or 
other authoritative work. 

10. Many a story that we have heard from the lips of 
our elders when we lay around roaring fires during long 
wintry nights and which we have come to regard as part and 
parcel of the life and doings of Rama, finds no place in 
Valmeeki's poem. 

11. The poem was to be recited, not read, and to an 
ever-changing audience. Only twenty chapters were allow- 
ed to be sung a day, neither more nor less. Hence the in- 
numerable repititions, recapitulations and other literary 
rapids through which it is not very easy to steer our frail 
translation craft. The whole range of Samskntha literature, 
religious and secular, has to be laid under contribution to 
bring home to the minds of the readers a fair and adequate 
idea of the message that was conveyed to humanity by 

12. A bare translation of the text of the Ramayana 
is thus of no use nay, more mischievous than useful, in 
that it gives an incomplete and la many places a distorted 


view of the subject. It is to the commentaries that we 
have to turn for explanation, interpretation, amplification, 
reconciliation and rounding off. And of these, the most 
important, that of Govindaraja, is practically inaccessible 
except to the Tamil-speaking races of India. The saints 
of the Dravida country, the Alwars from Sree Sathakopa 
downwards, have taken up the study of the Ramayana of 
Valmeeki as a special branch of the Vedantha and have 
left behind them a large literature on the subject, original 
and explanatory. The Divya-prabandhas and their numer- 
ous commentaries are all in the quaint archaic Tamil style 
known as Mampravala, and are entirely unknown to the 
non-Tamil-speaking world. With those teachers the Rama- 
yana was not an ordinary epic, not even an Ithihasa. 
It was something higher, grander and more sacred. It 
was an Upadesa-Grantha a Book of Initiation , and no true 
Vaishnava may read it unless he has been initiated by his 
Guru into its mysteries. It is to him what the Bible was to 
the Catholic world of the Medieval Ages ; only the Initiated, 
the clergy as it were, could read and expound it. Over and 
above all this, there are many priceless teachings about the 
Inner Mysteries of the Ramayana which find no place in 
written books. They form part of the instructions that the 
Guru gives to the Disciple by word of mouth. 

13. Then again, there is the never-ending discussion 
about the method of translation to be followed. Max- 
Muller, the Grand Old Man of the Orientalist School opines 
thus : " When I was enabled to collate copies which came 
from the south of India, the opinion,which I have often ex- 
pressed of the great value of Southern Mss. received fresh 
confirmation The study of Grantha and other southern 
Mss, will inaugurate, I believe, a new period in the critical 
treatment of Sanskrit texts. The rule which I have follow- 
ed myself, and which I have asked my fellow-translators 


to follow, has been adhered to in this new volume atoo, 
viz. whenever a choice has to be made between what is 
not quite faithful and what is not quite English, to surren- 
der, without hesitation, the idiom rather than the accuracy 
of the translation. I know that all true scholars have ap- 
proved of this, and if some of our critics have been offend- 
ed by certain unidiomatic expressions occurring in our 
translations, all I can say is, that we shall always be most 
grateful if they would suggest translations which are not 
only faithful, but also idiomatic. For the purpose we have 
in view, a rugged but faithful translation seems to us more 
useful than a smooth but misleading one. 

However, we have laid ourselves open to another kind 
of censure also, namely, of having occasionally not been 
literal enough. It is impossible to argue these questions in 
general, but every translator knows that in many cases a 
literal translation may convey an entirely wrong mean- 
ing. " Introduction to his Translation of the Upamshads. 
Part II, p. 13 

" It is difficult to explain to those who have not them- 
selves worked at the Veda, how it is that, though we may 
understand almost every word, yet we find it so difficult 
to lay hold of a whole chain of connected thought and to 
discover expressions that will not throw a wrong shade on 
the original features of the ancient words of the Veda. We 
have, on the one hand, to avoid giving to our translations 
too modern a character or paraphrasing instead of tran- 
slating ; while on the other, we cannot retain expressions 
which, if literally rendered in English or any modern 
tongue, would have an air of quamtness or absurdity totally 
foreign to the intention of the ancient poets. 

While in my translation of the Veda in the remarks 
that I have to make in the course of my commentary, I 
shall frequently differ from other scholars, who have dope 


their best and who have done what they have done in a truly 
scholarlike, that is in a humble spirit, it would be un- 
pleasant, even were it possible within the limits assigned, 
to criticise every opinion that has been put forward on the 
meaning of certain words or on the construction of certain 
verses of the Veda. I prefer as much as possible to vindi- 
cate my own translation, instead of examining the transla- 
tions of other scholars, whether Indian or European. " 
From the Preface to his translation of the Rig-veda Samhitha. 

In his letter to me of the 26th of January 1892, 
referring to my proposal to translate the Markandeya Purana 
as one of the Sacred Books of the East, he writes 

" I shall place your letter before the Chancellor and 
Delegates of the Press, and I hope they may accept your 
proposal. If you would send me a specimen of your 
translation, clearly written, I shall be glad to examine it, 
and compare it with the text in the Bibliotheca Iinlua. 
I have a Mss. of the Markandeya-punma. Possibly the palm 
leaf Mss. in Grantha letters would supply you with a better 
text than that printed in the Ribliotheca Indica" 

But, Mrs. Besant, in her Introduction to ' The Laws of 
Manu, in the Light of Theosophy. By Bhagavan Das, 
M. A./ takes a different view 

" One explanatory statement should be made as to the 
method of conveying to the modern reader the thought of 
the ancient writer. The European Orientalist, with admir- 
able scrupulosity and tireless patience, works away labon- 
busly with dictionary and grammar to give an " accurate 
and scholarly translation " of the foreign language which 
he is striving to interpret. What else can he do ? But the 
Result, as compared with the Original, is like the dead 
pressed specimen ' of the botanist beside the breathing 
living flower of the garden. Even I, with my poor know- 
ledge of Samsknt, know the joy of contacting the pulsing 


virile scriptures in their own tongue, and the inexpressible 
dulness and dreariness of their scholarly renderings into 
English. But our lecturer is a Hindu, who from childhood 
upwards has lived in the atmosphere of the elder days ; 
he heard the old stories before he could read, sung by 
grand-mother, aunt, and pandit ; when he is tired now, he 
finds his recreation in chanting over the well-loved stanzas 
of an Ancient Purana, crooning them softly as a lullaby to 
a weaned mind ; to him the ' well-constructed language ' 
(Samsknt) is the mother-tongue, not a foreign language ; 
he knows its shades of meaning, its wide connotations, its 
traditional glosses clustering round words and sentences, 
its content as dtawn out by great commentators. Hence, 
when he wishes to share its treasures with those whose 
birthright they are not, he pours out these? meanings in 
their richness of content, gives them as they speak to the 
heart of the Hindu, not to the brain of the European. His 
close and accurate knowledge of Samsknt would make it 
child's play for him to give "an accurate and scholarly tran- 
slation" of every quotation; he has preferred to give the 
living flowers rather the dried specimens. Orientalists, 
in the pride of their mastery of 'dead' language, will very 
likely scoff at the rendering of one to whom it is a living 
and familar tongue, who has not mastered Samsknt as a man, 
but has lived in it from an infant For these, the originals 
are given. But for those who want to touch the throbbing 
body rather than learn the names of the bones of the 
skeleton of India's Ancient wisdom, for those these free and 
full renderings are given. And I believe that they will be 
welcomed and enjoyed." 

The best test of a translation is that it must not at all 

\appear to be a translation. Some hold that a translation 

'must be a guide to the text, a ' crib ' as it were, 

and should enable any one ignorant of the original language 


to. master it easily and sooner. I believe that a transla- 
tion is meant to convey to a foreigner the thoughts, 
the ideas and the heart of the writer ; it is not to 
be a dictionary and grammar combined. A faithful 
translation and a literal are contradictory terms ; no word- 
for-word, wooden rendering can be any other thing 
than faithless ; and no good translation can be literal. No 
two races think alike; the same thought, the same fact re- 
quires to be clothed in different words, in different expres- 
sions to reach the mind of the hearer. A translation should 
be faithful not to the words, not to the constructions, not to 
the grammar of the original, so much as to the Kavi-hndaya, 
' the heart of the poet.' Curious notions of literary accuracy 
have rendered the translations of the Orientalists perfectly 
useless. Useless to those ignorant of Samskntha, in that it 
places before them strange thoughts and foreign modes of 
life and speech in an English garb, but not as they speak it, 
not as they understand it ; useless to the people iO 
whose literature they belong, m that the translators are 

They have no sympathy with the writer, or with 
the subject or with the people whose thoughts they 
attempt to place before the world. They bring to the work 
a prejudiced heart, a cold hyper-critical intellect, and an 
iconoclastic pen. Everything that they cannot understand, 
everything that they cannot reconcile with their precon- 
ceived notions of men and things, of God and the Universe, 
they throw overboard, without a glance at it, without a 
pang, just as the grave-digger cast aside the skull of Yonck 
the jester. They fix the correct readings ; they sit in dread 
judgment over the commentators who were born in and 
breathed the very atmosphere of the poet and of his nation ; 
they give the right meaning of words ; they formulate the 
canons of interpretation ; they judge of the stage of 



progress the people might have attained in the march of 
material civilisation. They fit every event in the life 
of a non-christian nation to their Procrustean bed of 
Biblical chronology ; there was no civilisation superior to 
their own ; there was nothing good or noble, spoken or 
done, before their chosen people, the Lord's Elect, came 
mto the world; nothing is historical to them except 
their own made-up, lame accounts of the last 2,000 
years. That is their Time ; that is their Eternity. 
They are very wise men the Orientalists ; they are psycho- 
metrical adepts. Place any thing before them, a rag, a thigh- 
bone, a tooth, a com, or a piece of stone and they will spin 
you an interminable yarn of the man, of the beast or of the 
people their history physical, mental, moral, political, liter- 
ary, economic, industrial, religious as if they were the 
very Maker of the objects they operate upon. 
They would search for history in a Book of Sacri- 
ficial hymns like the Rig-veda, in Ritualistic Manuals 
like the Yajur-veda, in a Book of Psalmody like 
the Sama-veda, in a book of Rimes and Charms, like 
the Atharva-veda. They would seek for < historic finds ' in 
moral text-books like the Smnthis, in sacred epics like 
the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha ; nay, they profess 
to give you the life and thoughts of a nation from its gram- 
mar like the Maha-bhashya, from its philosophical works 
like the Vedantha literature, from its medical books like 
Vagbhata, Susrutha and Charaka ; and wonderful to re- 
late ! they find history in treatises upon logic like Tarka- 
sangraha, in mathematical works like the Leelavathi and the 
Beejaganitha ! ! Nothing is too trivial, too humble, too 
insignificant for them ; their historical appetite is 

I would give anything to know what they might feel 
like, if an orthodox Brahmana or a Charvaka Atheist were to 


place before the English Christian reading world an 

English version of the Hebrew Bible ; if he should have the 

additional advantage of only a nodding acquaintance with 

the language ; if he should never have set his eye on 

the people whose revealed Scriptures he professes 

to further reveal ; if he should never have come across the 

real Sacred Books of the East ; if he should have come into 

contact only with the lowest strata of the nation or with 

unprincipled renegades to the faith of their fathers , if he 

should not even dream of access to the higher classes, 

their homes, their life, their words, their acts, their joys, 

their sorrows, their virtues, their vices, their faith, and 

their sceptism ; if he should be imbued with a supremely 

high notion of his omniscience, of his unerring keenness, of 

his literary infallibility ; if he should take it for granted that 

his race is the chosen one, that his reiigion is the only 

true one and that the others are false, that Ins people are 

destined to march for ever in the forefront of civilisation, 

prosperity and power. Now what would the orthodox 

English Christian or the devout Bishops and Arch- 

bishops think of such a version of the Holy Bible, 

embellished to boot, with original commentaries, remarks, 

reconciliations and judgments ex-cathedra, based mostly 

upon the unhealthy fumes of his imagination and pre- 

judices ? How would the English nation like to have its 

history written, say, 5000 years hence, from stray coins, from 

mouldering skeletons, from moss-covered pieces of stone 

and architecture, from its 'Book of Common Prayer/ from its 

1 Book of Psalmody ', from the < Paradise Lost ' of Milton, 

from the ' Holy Living ' of Taylor, from Abbott's Shakes- 

pearian Grammar, from Jevon's Logic, from Masson's British 

Philosophy, from Barnard Smith's Arithmetic, from 

Todhunter's Algebra and Geometry, from Webster's Dic- 

tionary, from its scientific, medical, industrial, and 


mechanical treatises, and the other decaying rubbish^ of 
a forgotten nation buried under the mounds of the 

That is exactly how the true Arya feels when he reads 
translations like that of Max-Muller, Griffith and their 
ilk or original critical estimates like those of Weber & Co., 
the Orientalist Iconoclasts. Western historians depict in 
glowing colors and sneering language how Mahommad of 
Ghazni destroyed the idol of Somanatha ; but Weber & Co. 
essay to shatter to pieces the faith of millions, their 
guide here and there hope hereafter. Well, as he soweth 
so shall he reap. My opinion of the whole class and of 
their Indian parasites is the same as what I expressed in 
the Preface to my " Life and Teachings of Sree Ramanuja; 1 ' 
and I quote it for the benefit of those who have not come 
across that book. 

" What care I about your coins and inscriptions, your 
pillars, and mounds, the dry bones of History ? To me it is of 
far more importance how a man lived and worked among 
his fellows, than when and where he was born and died, 
where he was at a particular date, when he wrote such and 
such a book, whether he was tall or short, dark or fair, single 
or married, a flesh-eater or a vegetarian, a teetotaller or no, 
what particular dress he affected, and so on. And yet more 
important still it is to me what a man thought and wiote, 
than how he lived and died. Your Orientalists ! Heaven 
save me from the brood. Mischief enough they have done, 
those human ghouls that haunt the charnel houses of 
Antiquity, where rot the bones of men and events of the 
Dead Past. They have played sad havoc with the fair tradi- 
tions of our forefathers, that placed ideas before facts 
and theories, and the development of a nation's 
heart before 'historical finds' or ' valuable discoveries'. 
Many a young ijian of promise they have turned away to 


paths uncongenial, where his bray betrays the animal with- 
in the skin. You will find no such antiquarian twaddle in 
my book." 

Well do they fit in with the lines of Tennyson. 

" Those monstrous males that carve the hvinj? hound, 
And ciam him with the fragments of the grave, 
Or in the dark dissolving human heart, 
And holy secrets of this microcosm, 
Dabbling a shameless hand with shameful jest, 
Encarnah/e their spirits , " Jhc Pnticc^ 

Gladly would I exchange shiploads of them for one 
Sir Edwin Arnold. 

One more extract, this time from The Zanoni' of 
Lytton and I have done. 

" The conduct of the individual can affect but a small 
circle beyond himself ; the permanent good or evil that he 
works to others lies rather in the sentiments he can dittuse. 
His acts arc limited and momentary , his sentiments may 
pervade the universe, and inspire generations till tne day of 
doom. All our virtues, all our laws, are drawn from books 
and maxims, which are sentiments, not from deeds. In 
conduct, Julian had the virtues of a Christian, and Con- 
stantine, the vices of a Pagan. The sentiments of Julian 
reconverted thousands to Paganism , those of Constantine 
helped, under Heaven's will, to bow to Christianity the 
nations on the earth. In conduct, the humblest fisherman 
on yonder sea, who believes in the miracles of San Gen- 
naro, may be a better man than Luther. To the senti- 
ments of Luther the mind of Modern Europe is indebted 
for the noblest revolution it has known. Our opinions, 
young Englishman, are the angel part of us ; our acts, the 
eaithly". Book I, Chapters. 

Alas ! The History of India by the Reverend Dr. Sinclair, 

is at present more authoritative m the eyes of the school 

boys than the Ramayana of Valmeeki or the Puranas of 

. Vyasa. The History of Samskntha Literature by Messrs. 

fcfcli PftEFACfe 

Max Muller, Weber, Monier Williams, MacDonell, etc.^is 
the last word upon the writings of the Aryans, religious or 
secular. Translations are quoted and the originals are 
decried or are unknown. Verily, we are in the Iron Age, in 
the ever downward cycle of the Kahyuga. 

I hold that any History of India worth reading ought to 
be written by a true-hearted Hindu; I hold that the sacred 
books of the Hindus ought to be translated by a Hindu, by 
a Brahmana; by one that has faith in the virtues and manhood 
of his people, in the wisdom and philanthropy of his fore- 
fathers; by one that combines in himself a deep and compre- 
hensive knowledge of the literature and traditions of his 
country, and of that to which he means to convey his mes- 
sage but never one of alien faith, nor a follower of Chris- 
tianity without Christy nor an apostate seeking to curry favour 
with the ruling race and the leaders of Western thought. Now, 
in the case of the Ramayana of Valmeeki, it is all the more 
imperative that the Translator should possess the additional 
qualification of a thorough knowledge ot the Tamil religious 
literature of the Dravidian School of Vaishnavism, that he 
should have been brought up in and saturated with the 
atmosphere of those amongst whom the Ramayana is recit- 
ed and listened to with profound faith and devotion and to 
whom it is not a bare literary work but a living reality, a 
sacred Book, one that can mould their life here and hereafter. 
As to the cobwebs of Western speculation about the his- 
torical value of the Ramayana, its date, the contem- 
porary mention of it, the critical biography of the 
poet < its posteriority or otherwise to the Maha- 
bharatha, its being a Zodiacal allegory or an account 
of the spread of the conquering Aryans into the 
South of India, about Rama being the type of the husband- 
man and Seetha being a symbol of agriculture and 
such-like Orientalist twaddle run riot, I have my 


o\yn opinion, certainly not creditable to them or 
to their authors. It is an open secret how History is 
written. The Boer war is within the memory of most of 
us; but, I have seen three diametrically different versions 
of it. The most important elements of a man's life or 
of a nation's are their thoughts. And History, to deserves 
its reputation of being "Philosophy teaching by example ", 
should record them alone and not dry facts and dates. 
The history of western nations do not run back, honestly 
speaking, farther than 2,000 years ; and huge libraries are 
already filled to overflowing with the records of that 
small period. The Aryans, who have, as we believe, existed 
as a separate race on this planet for over 5 millions of year$, 
can but afford to preserve their highest and most valuable 
thoughts. That forms their History and is mextncbly woven 
into their religion, morality and philosophy That 
is " Philosophy teaching by example," and no other. 

Is the Ramayana historically true ? Is it a record of 
events that actually took place ? The best answer I could 
make is in the words of the lecturer on the Bhagavad 
Geetha, Mrs. Besant. Her remarks apply equally well to 
the Ramayana or to any other Hindu Purana 

" Now, in the Bhagavad-Geetha there are two quite 
obvious meanings, distinct and yet closely connected the 
one with the other, and the method of the connexion it is 
well to understand. First, the historical. Now, specially 
in modern days when western thought is so much swaying 
and coloring the eastern mind, Indians as well as Europeans 
are apt to shrink from the idea of historical truths being 
conveyed in much of the sacred literature ; those enormous 
periods, those long reigns of kings, those huge and bloody 
battles, surely they are all simple allegory, they are not his- 
tory. But what is history and what is allegory ? History 
is the working out of the plan of the Logos, His plan, His 


scheme for evolving humanity ; and history is also 
the story of the evolution of a World Logos, who will 
rule over some world-system of the future. That is 
history, the life-story of an evolving Logos in the working 
out of the plan of the ruling Logos. And when we say alle- 
gory, we only mean a smaller history, a lesser history, the 
salient points of which, reflexions of the larger history, are 
repeated in the life-story of each individual Jivatma, each 
individual embodied spirit, History, seen from the true 
standpoint, is the plan of the ruling Logos for the evolution 
of a future Logos, manifested m all planes and visible 
on the physical, and therefore full of profoundest interest 
and full of profoundest meaning. The inner meaning, as 
it is sometimes called that which comes home to the hearts 
of you and me, that which is called the allegory, is the 
perennial meaning, repeated over and over again in each 
individual, and is really the same in miniature. In the one, 
Iswara lives in His world, with the future Logos and the 
world for his body, in the other, He lives in the individual 
man, with the Jeevatma and its vehicles for His body. But, 
in both are the one life and the one lord, and he who 
understands either, understands the twain. None, save the 
wise, can read the page of history with eyes that see; none, 
save the wise, can trace in their own unfolding the mighty 
unfolding of the system in which a future Logos Himself 
is the Jeevatma and that ruling Logos is the Supreme Self; 
and inasmuch as the lesser is the reflection of the greater, 
inasmuch as the history of the evolving individual is but a 
poor faint copy of the evolving of the future Logos, 
therefore in the scriptures there is even what we call a 
double meaning that history which shows a greater self- 
evolving, and the inner allegorical meaning that tells of the 
unfolding of the lesser Selves. We cannot afford to lose 
either meaning, for something of the richness of the 


treasure will thus escape us ; and you must have steadily 
and clearly in mind that it is no superstition of the ancients, 
no dream of the forefathers, no fancy of the ignorant 
generations of far-off antiquity, that saw in the little lives 
of men reflections of the great Life that has the Universe 
for its expression. Nor should you wonder, not be per- 
plexed when you catch, now and again, in that unfolding 
picture, glimpses of things that, on a smaller scale, are 
familiar in your own evolving ; and instead of thinking that 
a myth is a cloudy something which grows out of the 
history of a far-off individual, exaggerated and enlarged, 
as is the modern fancy, learn that what you call myth is the 
truth, the reality, the mighty unfolding of the supreme Life 
which causes the shaping of a Universe ; and that what 
you call history, the story, the story of individuals, is only 
a poor faint copy of that unfolding When you see the 
likeness, learn that it is not the great that is moulded by 
the small ; it is the minute that is the reflexion off the mighly. 
And so, in reading the Bhagavad-Geetha, you can take it 
as history ; and then it is the great Unveiling, that makes 
you understand the meaning and the purpose of human 
history, and thus enables you to scan, with eyes that see, 
the panorama of the great unfolding of events in nation after 
nation, and in race after race. He who thus reads the 
Geetha m human history can stand unshaken amid the 
crash of breaking worlds. And you can also read it for 
your own individual helping and encouraging and enlight- 
ening, as an allegory, the story of the unfolding spirit within 
yourselves. And I have purposed this morning, to take 
these two meanings as our special study, and to show how 
the Geetha as history is the Great Unveiling, the drawing 
away of the veil that covers the real scheme which history 
works out on the physical plane ; for it was that which re- 
moved the delusion of Arjuna and made hijn fible to do his 


duty at Kurukshetra. And then, turning from that vaster 
plane, to seek its meaning as it touches the individual un- 
folding of the spirit, we shall see what that has of teaching 
for us, what that means for us of individual illumination; 
for just as history is true, so is allegory true. As the 
history, as we shall see, was the preparation for the India of 
the present, and the preparation for the India of the future, 
so also is that true which is elsewhere written in the 
Mahabharatha . " I am the Teacher and the Mind is my 
pupil. " From that standpoint we shall see Sree Krishna 
as the Jagath-guru, the world-Guru, and Arjuna as the 
Mind, the Lower Manas, taught by the Teacher. And thus 
we may learn to understand its meaning for ourselves in 
our own little cycle of human growth. 

Now, an Avathara is the Iswara, the Logos of a world- 
system, appearing in some physical form at some great 
crisis of evolution. The Avathara decends unveils Him- 
self would be a truer phrase; 'decends 1 is when we 
think of the Supreme as though far-off, when truly He is 
the all-pervasive Life in which we live ; to the outer eye 
only is it a coming down an J descending and such an 
Avathara is Sree Krishna. He comes as the Logos of the 
system, veiling Himself in human form, so t.iat He may, 
as man, outwardly shape the course of history with 
mighty power, as no lesser force might avail to shape it. 
But the Avathara is also the Iswara of the human Spirit, 
the Logos of the spirit, the Supreme Self, the self of whom 
the individual spirit is a portion an amsa. Avathara then 
is the Iswara of our system; the Avathara also, is the Iswara 
of the human spirit ; and as we see him in these two 

presentments, the light shines out and we begin to 

Let us take the historical drama, the setting of the great 
teaching. India had passed through a long cycle of great- 


n^ss, of prosperity. Sree Ramachandra has ruled over the 
land as the model of the Divine Kingship that guides, 
shapes, and teaches an infant civilisation That day had 
passed. Others had come, feebler to rule and guide, and 
many a conflict had taken place. The great Kshathnya caste 
had been cut down almost to the root by the Avathara, 
Parasu Rama, Rama of the axe; it had again grown up strong 
and vigorous. Into that India the new manifestation 

In that part of her story, this first offshoot of the great 
Aryan Race had settled in the northern parts of India It 
had there served as the model, the world-model, for a 
nation. That was its function. A religion, embracing the 
heights and depths of human thought, able to reach the 
ryot in his field, able to teach the philosopher and the 
metaphysician in his secluded study, a. world-embracing 
religion, had been proclaimed through the lips of the 
Rishis of this hr-t offshoot of the Race. Not only a religion, 
but also a polity, an economic and social order, planned 
by the wisdom of a Maim, ruled at first by that Manu 
himself. Not only a religion and a polity, but also the 
shaping of the individual life on the wisest lines the 
successive Varnas, the successive Asramas , the stages of 
life, in the long life of the individual, were marked in the 
castes, and each caste-life of the embodied Jeevathma 
reproduced in its mam principles, in the individual lite, 
the Asramas through which a man passed between birth 
and death. Thus perfectly thought out, thus marvellously 
planned, this infant civilisation was given to the race as a 
world-model, to show what might be done where Wisdom 
ruled and Love inspired. 

The word spoken out by that ancient model was the 
word Dharma Duty, Fitness, Right Order. Units on the 
Study of Bhagavad-Gedhdi pp. 6 12. 


The Ramayana of Valmeeki " is a romance and it ^ is 
not a romance. It is a truth for those who can comprehend 
it, and an extravagance for those who cannot. 1 ' 

Out of the vast mass of events in the history of the 
world, the Guardians of Humanity select only such as are 
best suited to their purpose and weave around them narra- 
tives that stand as eternal symbols oi cosmic processes. 

To the man of facts and dates, coins and inscriptions, 
I would recommend the advice given by Tennyson's 
Ancient Sage to the rationalistic young man. 

44 The days and hours are ever glancing by, 

And seern to flicker past thro 1 sun and shade, 

Or short, or long, as Pleasure leads, or Fain , 

But with the Nameless is nor Day nor Houi , 

Tho'we, thin minds, who creep fiom thought to thought, 

Break into ' Thens ' and * Whcns ' the Eteinal Now 

This double seeming of the single world ' " 

To the sceptic, cased in the impenetrable armour of 
doubt and disbelief, owning no world outside the perception 
of his unerring senses, who wants to prove everything by 
the touchstone of /us reason before he would deign to 
allow it a place in his Hall of Knowledge, I say with the 
that . 

" Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son, 
Nor canst thou prove the world thou mo vest in, 
Thou tanst not piove that thou art body alone, 
Noi canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone, 
Nor canst thou piove that thou ait both in one 
Thou canst not prove thou art immoital, no 
Nor yet that thou art mortalnay, my son, 
Thou canst not prove that 1, who speak with thee, 
Am not thyself in converse with thyself, 
For nothing worthy proving can be proven, 
Nor yet dibproven , whereforethou be wise, 
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt, 
And cling to Faith beyond the foims of Faitb 1 
She reels not in the storm of waving words, 
She brightens at the dash of 'Yes' and 'No,' 
She sees the Best that glimmers thro' the Worst, 
She feels the Sun is hid but for a night 


She spies the summer thro* the winter bud, 
She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls, 
She hears the lark within the songless egg, 
She finds the fountain where they wail 'd 'Mirage' ' " 

But, to him who would pierce thro' the exoteric narra- 
tive down to the bed-rock of Truth, out of which bubbles 
ever the Waters of Immortality and Omniscience, to him 
who would feel the heart-throb of Valmeeki, to him who 
would understand the mystery of the Divine Incarnation 
and its sublime purpose, I say : 

" If them wouldst hear the Nameless, and will dive 
fnto the Temple-cave of thine own self, 
There brooding by the central altar, thou 
Mayst haply learn the Nameless hath a voice, 
By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise, 
As if thou knewest, tho' thou canst not know , 
For Knowledge is the swallow on the lake 
That sees and stus> the surface shadow there, 
But never yet hath dipt into the abysm, 
The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within 
The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth, 
And in the million millionth of a gram 
Which cleft and cleft again for ever more, 
And ever vanishing, never vanishes, 
Tome, my son, more mystic than myself, 

Or even than the Nameless is to me 

And when thou sendest thy free soul thro' heaven, 

Nor understandest bound nor boundlessnesas, 

Thou seest the Nameless of the hundred names. " 

For, saith the Lord. "He who thus knoweth my divine 
birth and action in its essence, having abandoned the body, 
cometh not into birth again, but cometh unto me, O, 
Arjuna! "Geetha IV, 9. 

I have tried my best to be faithful to the original in 
word and in sentiment wherever it was possible. I have 
tried to place before his readers the thought that underlay 
the words of the poet. I have tried to preserve, as far as I 
could, the force, the beauty and the spirit of the Ramayana, 
that it may arouse m the hearts of the readers the same senti- 
ments, passions and feelings that well up in the hearts of a 


Hindu audience, when it listens to its recital. I hpve 
incorporated into the translation of the text, wherever it 
was necessary, the explanations and the comments of 
Govmdaraja and the other authoritative commen- 
tators ; but, where they differed or supplemented one 
another, I have given the essence of their opinions in 
the form of Notes. I have drawn from all available sources 
of information, the Hindi version of Thulasi Das, the 
Prakrith of Hemachandracharya, the Vedas, the Smnthis, 
the Puranas, the Darsanas, in fact, the whole range of 
Samskntha and other literature, as far as was accessible to me. 
I know that any one who undertakes the translation into 
English of such colossal works as the Ramayana or the 
Mahabharatha must have at his disposal a large and well-re- 
presented library; I know also that I have neither the means 
nor the influence to possess it. But, I take this opportunity 
to render my heart-felt thanks, full and over-flowing, to all 
such as have helped me by placing their books at my 
disposal, more especially to the Brahma Vidya Lodge, T.S. 
Kumbakonam. I know that this enterprise requires a large 
initial outlay of capital and that I have it not Babu Pratap 
Chandra Roy, the brave translator of the Mahabharatha, 
appealed and with success to the various Governments of 
India, Europe, and America ; Mr. Manmath Nath Dutt, the 
first translator of the Ramayana into English prose, was 
favoured with the royal support of His Highness the Maha- 
raja of Travancore, to whom he dedicated his work. 

But my mainstay and support is Sree Ramathandra, 
whose greatness and glory I humbly endeavour to bring 
home to the hearts of the millions in the East and in the 
West. To Him I dedicate, in all humility and reverence, my 
unworthy production to Him, to Seetha, to Lakshmana 9 to 
Bharatha, to Sathrughna and last, not least, to Maruthi, 
the Ideal Rama-bhaktha. In their never-failing grace do 


/ place my trust to enable me to carry on this work to its 

I know, better than others, the shortcomings of my 
work and of the numerous disqualifications I labour 
under to do my duty towards it ; and I humbly crave the 
indulgence of my readers, their sympathy, their support, 
their advice and their good thoughts. 




I : " The Ramayana." 

" The record of the life arid adventures ot Sri Rama." 

This expression is naturally applicable to all works 
that treat of Sri Rama , but custom and tradition have limi- 
ted it to the grand epic of Valmiki. 

Words are of three kinds : Rudln, used in a conven- 
tional sense ; Yaugika, derivative, retaining that significa- 
tion which belongs to it by its etymology ; and 
Yaugika Rudha, having both an etymological and special 

Such names as Krishna belong to the first class ; 
Dasarathi, the son of Dasaratha, is a type of the second ; 
Pankafa, the lotus, represent the third. The last word, 
etymologically understood, means "born in the mud ; " but 
other flowers such as the water-lily are not so called. It 
is confined by convention to the lotus alone. Even so the 
expression ' Ramayana ' Many have sung ' the Life of 
Rarna/ but convention restricts it by pre-eminence to the 
immortal epic of Valmiki alone. The Gita, the Brahma 
Sutras, The Maha Bhashya and Rama, are by conventional 
usage and tradition understood to mean respectively, The 
Bhagavad Gita, The Brahama Sutras of Vedavyasa, the 
Maha Bhashya of Patanjah and Rama the son of Dasaratha. 

II . < The Original. ' 

Brahma, the Ancient of Days, sent down Narada to 
instruct Valmiki in the mysteries of Divine wisdom, Vedic 
Hymns was the form in which the teaching was imparted. 
Later on, the Four-faced One came down even unto where 
Valmiki abode and endowed him with the Open Eye of the 
Seer. The sage saw with clear vision into the past, the 
present, and the future, and the record thereof was given to 
the world in the form of a grand poem of 100 crores of 
stanzas A. R Manohara Kanda I; A R. Yatra Kanda I, 
Adb. R., I. 

Brahma sung the life of Rama in a poem of 100 crores 
of stanzas and taught it to Narada and the other Rishis of 
this world G. /?., Bala Kanda, G in Jus preface to his 
'Notes on Bala Kanda' 

It contains 9 lakhs of cantos, 1)00 lakhs of chapters and 
100 crores of stanzas A. R. Manohara Kanda 17. 

In course of time, the holy sages received the inesti- 
mable gift and continued to recite the epic in their hermit- 
ages. Countless bands of the Shining Ones gathered over- 
head in their bright aerial cars and listened entranced to the 
heart-compelling strains , shower^ of heavenly flowers 
rained on the heads of the blessed singers; and shouts of joy 
and acclamation rent the skies. Then began a mighty 
struggle among the denizens of the other worlds as to who 
should have exclusive possession of the sacred epic. The 
Devas (Angels of Light) would have it in their bright homes 
on high; the Daityas (the Lords of Darkness) and the 
Nagas (Dragons of wisdom) would not rest until their 
nether worlds resounded with the holy chant; but the Sages 
and Kings of the earth would have parted with their lives 
booner. Hot was the discussion between the excited clai- 
mants ; Brahma the Creator, Siva the Destroyer tried in vain 

to arbitrate ; in the end, they and the ambitious aspirants 
along with them proceeded by common consent to where 
the Lord Vishnu lay reclined on the folds of the Serpent of 
Eternity, gently lulled by the throbbing waves of the Ocean 
of milk. They laid the case before him and besought 
a way out of the difficulty. Vishnu cut the Gordian knot 
by dividing the huge work equally and impartially among 
the three claimants, who, they averred, were all entitled to it. 

33 crores, 33 lakhs, 33 thousands, o33 stan/as and 10 
letters formed the portion of each. Maha, Lakshmi, the Con- 
sort of Vishnu, Sesha, the Serpent of Eternity, and Garuda, 
the divine Bird were initiated by the Lord into the three 
mighty Mantras (Spells) built up of the last 10 letters above 
mentioned. Lakshmi shared her knowledge with the Angels 
on high. Sesha instructed the Dragons and the Asuras in 
the Nether worlds. From Garuda came the knowledge of 
the mighty Mantra to the mortals of this Earth. What 
these mantras are and how they are to be utilised can best 
be learnt from the Science that treats of them (The Mantra 
Sastra). Thus proceeding, two letters remained undivided 
and indivisible. Siva requested that they might be his 
portion. The Holy Name that they expressed, Ratna, was 
reverently received by the Lord of the Kailasa ; and for all 
time he abides at the holy Kasi (Benares), to whisper it into 
the right ear of those who exchange their mortal tenements 
for the Robe of Glory ; and it takes them over safely 
through the tossing waves of material existence on 
to the shores of the Regions of Light. 

Thereafter, the portion of the Earth was further divided 
among the seven spheres thereof Pushkara, Saka, Plaksha, 
Kusa, Krouncha, Salmah and Jambu. Each secured to itself 
47,619,047 stanzas ; but 4 remained indivisible. Where- 
upon. Brahma the Creator begged hard of his father 

to be allowed to receive it. Later on, Narada learnt 
them from him. 

" I was before thjs Universe began and no other. 
Being and Not-Being are the Kosmic Ultimates ; but 
beyond them and behind them / remain. All else 
shall pass away and change all Name and Form ; but, 
/ remain. That which presents itself not as Truth, that 
which manifests itself not as the Self, verily that is Maya, 
the great Illusion cast upon the Supreme One like a mist, 
like a pall of darkness. The Great Elements permeate all 
Name and Form like warp and woof ; but the Manifested 
and the Unmamfested live in Me and move and have their 
being. The Supreme is the Life and Light of the Universe ; 
but for It, it is not. Know thou the above and you know 
Me". These are the Great Truths. 

The inhabitants of the Pushkara Dweepa divided 
equally their share between the two Varshas (continents) 
that compose it ; but the nine Varshas of our Jambu 
Dweepa received 5,291,005 stanzas each and a seven- 
lettered mantra. Kuru, Hiranmaya, Ramyaka, Ketumala, 
Ilavrita, Bhadraswa, Hari, Kimpurusha and Bharata. But 
the letter ' Sri ' that remained, was held in common by the 
nine Varshas. 

Later on, the Lord took form as Veda-Vyasa; the 
Kaliyuga will see the Brahmanas dull of intellect and short- 
lived; so, he divided the one eternal Veda (Divine Wisdom) 
into many branches (Sakhas) to suit their varied capacities. 
Hence his name Veda-Vyasa, ' He that adjusts or arranges 
the Vedas'. Further, he took what fell to the Bharata Varsha 
as its share of the Original Ramayana and based upon it 
the 17 Puranas, the Upapuranas, and the Maha Bharata. 
But, his soul knew not peace nor serenity. He sat with an 
aching heart on the banks of the swift-flowing Sarasvati 

when Narada came unto him and instructed him in the 
mysteries of the Self as contained in the four stanzas that 
constituted the Heart of all Wisdom. Veda-Vyasa assimilat- 
ed it and embodied it m his famous Sn Bhagavatha, the 
child of his mature wisdom and fullness of peace. 

The great sages, that later on gave to the world the 
various standard works on the Science of words, Astronomy, 
Astrology, Phonetics, Prosody, the Rules of Ritual and the 
Vedic glossaries, drew their materials from the Original 
Ramayana; and there is not an episode, that embodies any 
truth, moral, social, religious or philosophical, but owes its 
origin to the same, A- R. Yatra Kanda II. 

The Mahabharata has a similar mystery ol rs own. 
Vyasa sung it of yore in 60 lakhs of stanzas, 30 of which 
he Angels kept to themselves ; the Fathers appropriated 
15 ; the Rakshasas and the Yakshas had to content them- 
selves with 14 ; while we on this mortal earth were blessed 
but with the remaining lakh. Vaisampayana has preserved 
it for us. 24,000 stanzas make up the work, the numerous 
episodes excluded. But, there exists a compendium of 
the same in 150 stanzas and it is called the Anukramamka, 
M.B., I. 1. 

HI. <Thc Singer.' 

Maharshi Valmeeki is held to be the composer of the 
epic. The name means ' He who sprang out of the 
ant-hill.' Said Brahma, the Fashioner of the worlds, ' Know 
this mighty sage as Valmeeki, in as much he has come out of 
the Valmeeka (the ant-hill)," Brahma Kawariha Parana. 

i. "I am the tenth son of Varuna, the Lord of the Waters 

(or the 10th in descent)" V. R. VII. 96,19; " Thus was 

sung the Ramayana by the mighty son of Varuna ; and 

Brahma signified his glad approval thereof" V. /?., VII. JO. 

K 99 

All through the countless years, trees and shrubs 
sprang around him, while an immense ant-hill arose on all 
sides, completely concealing him from view. Later on, 
Varuna, the Lord of the Waters, sent down heavy rains, 
which dissolved the strange tenement ; coming out of it, the 
Gods hailed him as the son of Varuna, as Valmeeki. Go. 
on V. R.l.l. 

ii. He came of the line of Bhrigu, the son of Varuna. 
V. R., VII., 94. 

Riksha of the line of Bhrigu, was later on known 
as Valmeeki. He held the office of Veda-Vyasa in the 
24th Chatur Yuga V. P. Ill, 3. 

iii. He is the son of Varuna and brother of Bhrigu 
Bh., IV. 1. 

iv. He is the same as Riksha, the son of Prachetas of 
the line of Bhrigu V. R. I. 1 (Go.) He abides in the 
world of Indra. V. R. VII. 7111. ; M. B. II. 7. 

v. Once upon a time, there lived on the shores of lake 
Pampa, a Brahmana, Sankha by name. Journeying through 
the pathless woods that covered the banks of the Goda- 
vari, a fierce-eyed hunter sprang at him and was 
not long in transferring to himself the clothes, 
the ornaments, the water pot and even the leathern 
sandals of the unfortunate Brahmana. It was mid- 
summer and the sun was high in the heavens. His 
pitiless rays beat down upon the head of poor Sankha ; the 
red-hot sand burnt his tender feet to the very bone. He 
folded the rags that the cruel mercies of the hunter leftd him 
and stood upon them while the forest solitudes resounded 
with his screams of agony. The iron heart of the hunter 
grew soft towards him. " I did right" said he to himself "in 
depriving the poor fellow of what he had. It is but in the 
of my duty and hereditary calling; but let me lay 

t>x some small merit by giving him my old sandals. " Sankha 
was profuse in his gratitude " May all good go with 
you ! Verily, it is some good karma of a past life that put 
into your head the idea of making a present of a pair of 
sandals to a poor wayfarer and that, when he is in most 
need of li." The hunter was curiously affected with 
the prophetic words of the Brahmana. " Good sir ! May I 
know what merit I have laid by in a former birth ? " " Alas ! 
replied Sankha, " the fierce sun almost melts my poor 
brains. My tongue cleaves to my mouth from dire thirst. 
Is this a place to dilate upon old-world stories ? Take me 
to some cool shady spot where I may rest my poor limbs." 

A ray of pity illuminated the dark recesses of the 
hunter's heart. Gently he led Sankha to the cool waters of 
a lake hard by; and the Brahmana plunged into its welcome 
depths, performed his midday prayers, offered due wor- 
ship to the Gods, the Fathers and the Sages. Meanwhile, 
the hunter busied himself in providing his late victim with 
sweet fruits and roots ; Sankha partook of them, and 
quenched his thirst at the limpid lake ; then sought the 
leafy shade of a hospitable tree where the hunter followed 
him. " Now will I reveal unto you some ghmpes of your 
chequered past" said Sankha. 

" There lived of old a Brahmana, by name 
Stambha, of the clan of Sri Vatsa. In Sala town 
he abode and with him his beautiful wife Kantimayee, a 
model of wifely virtues and whole-hearted devotion ; but, 
the wayward heart of the man turned away from her ; and 
he so forgot himself, his manhood and the duty he owed to 
a lady and his wife, that he installed in his home a harlot, in 
whose witching smiles he lived. Outraged in everything 
that a woman holds dear and sacred, Kantimayee yet 
remained loyal to her unworthy husband ; she was most 
assiduous in attending to the comforts of the man and 


his paramour ; she anticipated their least wishes, supremely 
content if she could thereby win back her husband's 

Years passed away thus ; and the wretch suffered the 
torments of Hell even before he reached it, in the shape of 
a cruel disease that made his days and nights one long 
agony. The woman who owned him body and soul, quiet- 
ly robbed him of what wealth he had and sought another 
and more congenial companion of her pleasures. He came 
to know it and in his bitterness of his heart called down 
the deadliest curses upon the head of the betrayer and upon 
himself that so basely abused his wife's loyalty and love. 
" I stand alone in the world and helpless I have wilful- 
ly destroyed every chance of deserving any help from you 
or sympathy. My treatment of you was simply abominable. 
I placed the harlot in the sacred seat of the wedded wife ; 
I rejoiced to see the pure hands of my life's partner serve 
all meekly, the unclean animal I had taken to my heart. 
Cruel were my words to you and crueller my behaviour. 
The Holy Books tell us, that the husband who wrings the 
heart of his loyal wife is doomed to the miserable lot of a 
eunuch for ten lives and seven ; the finger of scorn will ever 
point at him. Now, the reed on which I lent has broken 
and pierced my heart." But Kantimayee lifted hands of 
appeal to him and cried, " Lord of my heart ! Your hand- 
maiden is ever at your service. She is yours to command 
now and ever. You shall not lack for any sympathy or 
service that my poor self can render . Strange it is that you 
should feel shame-faced to ask it of me. Never did the 
slightest shadow of resentment darken my heart against you. 
As for what you say of my cheerless life, do I not know that 
I only pay back what I owed in my former birtu ? I made my 
bed and I must he upon it. And when was a dutiful wife 
known to be otherwise than loyal and loving to her lord?" 

Forthwith she sped to her parents and got from them the 
wherewithal to provide for his wants and necessities. 

One hot day in June, Devala the sage crossed the 
threshhold of the humble pair and requested hospitality. 
Kantimayee turned to her husband and said ' This holy 
man is a master physician. I am sure that he will relieve 
you of your cruel disease, if he is so-minded'. Thus she 
played upon his intense selfishness and unconsciously per- 
suaded him to welcome the sage. She washed his scorch- 
ed feet with cool water, placed a seat for him, fanned 
his weary limbs ; and when he had rested a while, 
entertained him with the very best her humble abode 
afforded. The water that washed his feet she took to 
her husband and said " This is A very potent medicine and 
fails not " ; whereat, he eagerly drained it at a gulp. 

At last, the disease ate into his vitals and he became 
delirious with pain she procured some medicine 
and was trying to force it into his mouth, when the man 
was seized with terrible convulsions and expired biting off 
finger of poor Kantimayee. She sold her ornaments and 
jewellery, bought fragrant wood with it, placed her 
unworthy husband upon it, set fire to the same and lay by 
his side in sweet content and supreme peace of heart. She 
took her place in the House of Glory. 

But the dominating tendency of his life asserted itself 
at the last moment and of the harlot was his last thought. 
The wheel of Karma has turned and he is now a hunter 
the natural foe of the birds of the air and the beasts 
of the forests You are no other than that rene- 
gade Brahmana. Your partnei in iniquity is now born 
among the hunters and is your wife. Since you con- 
sented, unconsciously though, to welcome and entertain the 
Rishi Devala, a ray of pity, a flash of something noble 
crossed your dark heart and induced you to relieve my 


sufferings and make a gift to me of your old shoes. TJie 
holy water that washed the feet of the sage has purified 
your unclean spirit ; and you have been privileged to hear 
from me the details of your former life. In your last moments 
you bit off the finger of your faithful wife; now you live upon 
the flesh of slain beasts. You died in your bed ; and now 
the hard earth is your only bed. Nay, I will reveal to you 
what will befall you hereafter." He opened the eyes of the 
hunter to his next birth, insti ucted him in the right way of 
spending the holy month of Vaisakha. The hunter, now 
supremely repentant, gave back to his benefactor the arti- 
cles of which he had dispossessed him and saw him safely 
out of the dark woods. The unexpected turn thus given 
to his life was productive of very favourable results. 

Knnu, the sage, spent long years of severe austerities 
On the banks of a beautiful lake When it was over, his 
life essence streamed through his eyes ; a serpent swallowed 
it and the quondam hunter took birth in its womb. A 
Brahmana by birth, he was brought up by the rude hunters 
and took to their ways of living He mated with a woman 
of the lower classes and had many children through her. 
He organized a gang of foot-pads, waylaid the travellers 
and lived upon his ill-gotten gams. 

One day, the Seven Sages chanced to pass through the 
forest. Our Brahmana hunter promptly held them up. 
" Reverend Sirs! None pass this way without paying 
me toll. Nay, it is but duty that I owe my wife 
and my young ones. So I request you to make a 
transfer of everything valuable you have." The Holy Ones 
smiled in pity and said, " My good man, please yourself. 
But do us a slight favour. Go home and put to your wife 
and children the following question ' You share with me 
the gains of my calling, do you not ? Well ; doubtless you 
will take a share of the retribution natural to such a 


life of lawlessness and cruelty as I lead. 1 Fear not, 
but we will remain here, even until you come back 
with their answer ; " and they bound themselves thereto 
by the most solemn oaths. The hunter could not 
clearly explain to himself what they were after. But 
such a simple request did not deserve to be refused. 
So he went home and put the question to his wife 
and children. But they laughed in his face and cried, 
"Are you gone mad? Who can deny that we have a right to 
a share of your earnings ? But, as to a share of the results 
of your crimes, why, the very idea is supremely absurd." 
The hunter was dazed with surprise at this outburst of 
frank selfishness. The holy presence of the Sages purified 
his nature and brought out its nobler instincts So, back 
he sped to where his strange visitors were. Tears of repen- 
tance and grief streamed down his rugged face as he clasped 
their feet and exclaimed in despair, (l Lords of Compassion ! 
blind have I been till now ; a life of cruelty and iniquity 
did I lead, and went back upon the noble traditions of the 
Brahmanas, to whom I belong by birth. I have run through 
the entire gamut of crime. And now I take my refuge in 
your mercy. Extend the shadow of your protection over 
me." No other helper have I. 

Then they took council among themselves. "Our poor 
friend is a Brahmana ; but he has chosen to degrade himself 
and lead a hunter's life. Yet, he seeks refuge of us ; and it 
behoves us to do something for him. Let us try upon him 
the effect of the all-potent Name of Sri Rama. He can have 
no better weapon to fight his past evil." They called him 
unto them and said, "My good man ! We instruct you in 
the mystery of a very powerful mantra. But, as you have a 
long course of purification to go through, you cannot receive 
it as it is; we shall reverse it for you. Meditate upon it with 
your heart ^ncj soul, day and night, till we come back/' 


They then whispered into his ears the syllables Mara and 
vanished from his sight. 

The hunter planted his staff where they stood a 
moment ago and sat down there in all earnestness, in all sin- 
cerity, to meditate upon the mighty spell. Many thousands of 
years passed over his head. The world and all it held slipped 
away from his consciousness. His various bodies were gra- 
dually purified of everything gross and material and shone in 
their splendour and radiance. But there rose around him 
where he sat, a large ant-hill, that in course of time concealed 
him from view. The Sages were as good as their word. They 
came back to where their hunter-disciple sat, lost in profound 
meditation. " Come out into the living world " called they ; 
and he came out from the ant-hill. The Sages laid their 
hands on his head in sweet blessing and said, " Holy One ! 
The Name of the Lord has consumed your past sins. You 
have stood face to face with the Great Mystery. You are 
our equal. A second time were you born when you came 
owt of yonder ant-hill. The world shall know you hence 
as Valmeeki (Son of the Ant-Hill). " 

Thus did Valmeeki narrate the events of his former 
birth to Him whose life he sung. A . R. Kajya Kanda. 14; 
Ad. R. II. 6 ; Bhav. P. III. 10. 

Bhngu and Valmeeki were the sons of Charsham and 
Varuna Bh. VI. 10. 

/F. The Number of Stanzas. 

The 7 cantos are divided into 500 chapters and 24,000 
stanzas. (V. R. VII. 94). Govindaraja's commentary ex- 
tends only to so many ; But, the actual number is 24,253. 
The commentator explains it thus : 

1. It is many thousands of years since the poem was 
$ung. Innumerable versions of it would naturally have 

ar^en ; the carelessness of the later copyists might have 
also contributed to this irregularity. 

2. It may be that Valmeeki set himself to sing the 
epic in 24,000 stanzas ; but, he was obliged to exceed the 
limit, more especially as it was sung and not written. 

3. We ought to take it that 24,000 is the lowest 
limit. The work would not fall short of it. 

4. The Day of Brahma comprises 1,000 Mahayugas. 
A Manvantara is 1/14 of it; but Amara Simha, in his Lexicon 
has it that it comprises 71 Mahayugas, ignoring the fractional 
portion. Even so, 24 is the nearest total number in thou- 
sands, the odd stanzas being ignored. But, as it stands, the 
South Indian edition in Grantha characters commented 
upon by Govmdaraja contains; 







Ayodhyakanda ... 



Aranyakanda ... 

















V When was it sitng $ 

Valmeeki composed this epic before Sri Rama celebra- 
ted his horse-sacrifice. Ravana and his brood had been 
wiped out. V. R. I. 4. 

Satrughna went to Mathura, killed Lavana m fair fi&ht 

and ruled for over twelve years in his town. Returning to 

Ayodhya, he spent a night at the hermitage of 



when he heard the grand epic sung by Kusa and Lava* 
V. R. VII. 71. 

" Whom shall I give it to " thought Valmeeki ; and it so 
chanced that the royal twins Kusa and Lava touched his 
feet and begged to be taught the sacred song. V. R. I. 4. 

So Valmeeki must have composed it when Rama held 
sway at Ayodhya and had put Sita away from himself. 

" When the Tretayuga draws to its close and its 
successor the Dwapara takes its place, in that Twilight of 
Ages, I come down on earth as Sri Rama, son to Dasaratha, 
and lift the load of sin and sorrow from her shoulders." 
M. B. Santi Parva III. 39 

VI. The Epic. 

" This we should do ; that we should not. This 
secures to us happiness here and hereafter ; that 
plunges us in misery now and for ever. This is good for 
us ; that is not so." Now, no one denies that such dis- 
criminative knowledge is extremely desirable and useful 
to all that make the journey of life. The Holy Writ 
(Vedas), the World-histories (Puranas), and the sacred Epics 
(Kavyas) give us such knowledge, if we but get at their 
Heart-Doctrine. Every one of these go to develop 
in us the same faculty of Right Discrimination ; but, 
there is a difference in the process. 

Now, the Holy Writ is almost kingly in its authority. 
There is no questioning it, no altering it. It must be taken 
as it is and must be obeyed to the very letter. You may 
not take out the word Agm in a Mantra and replace it by 
its synonym, say Fan/n. Why ? The results predicated 
would not come about ; nay, evil, and that of no light kind 
will come out of it. " If a Mantra be not rendered aright 
in rhythm, intonation or accent, if the letters are misplaced 
or onjitted, the results fail to appear ; ^nd the fool woulc) 


have drawn down death upon himself. Behold ! Thwashta 
sought to create one who could slay Indra, But, a 
slight change of accent and intonation made it to bring 
into existence one who was killed by Indra." Sruti. 
We may not at present understand the results of each 
and every commandment ; but we dare not disobev them ; 
for it will bring forth evil. No one sits down to argue the 
orders of a general on the battle field or of a king on his 
throne ; he does not analyse it, examine its legality, morali- 
ty or philosophic fitness. Even so, study the Holy Writ 
with care , learn from it what to do and what to avoid. 
Follow the Right and keep away from the Path of Un- 
righteousness But, all this is primarily based on an unrea- 
soned desire for happiness and fear of evil. 

Now, the World- histories adopt a milder tone. They 
command not, but offer friendly advice. " This one did 
right and lived in happiness here and hereafter. This 
another chose the path of wickedness and came to grief 
and misery now and beyond." Thus we are led to con- 
clude that Rama should be our ideal and not Ravana. This 
is the more pleasant way ot learning the Rules of Life. 

The Epic deals with the question in a different way. It 
is not the nature of women to wear their hearts on their 
lips ; but, none the less, they obtain what they want and 
very often more. Even so, the epics carry a meaning on 
their surface ; but, there runs an under current of deep 
thought and instruction. Loveis of literature seek to pierce 
through the veil ot words into that which lies beneath 
the heart of the poet; and once found, it is a perennial 
source of joy. Hence, the epic is the best teacher of the 

A perfect Epic is flawless in every way ; it abounds in 
all excellences ; it has a beauty all its own. Rightly has 
it been named "The child of the poet's heart." 


There are three varieties of it. The Gadya Kavya (narra- 
tive prose) of which Kadamban is the type; the Padya Kavya 
(narrative poetry), represented by Raghuvamsa ; the 
Champu (narrative prose and poetry), like the Bhojachampu. 

Man has to hand countless materials that go to build 
up his Palace of Happiness; even so the Epic. The words 
and their connotations, these form its body ; the Heart 
Doctrine is its breath of life ; Metaphor, Simile, Hyperbole 
and the other Figures of Speech serve to adorn it gaily ; 
puns, innuendos and the other inferred hints make up its 
list of personal excellences, bravery, fortitude, valour and the 
like. Vaidarbhi and the other varieties of diction are its 
generic attributes and ennoble it. Kaisiki and the other 
modes of style are its graceful motions. The harmonious 
arrangement of words is known as the Sayya, the soft bed on 
which it reclines at ease. Fire brings out the sweetness of 
objects and distil for us their essences ; even so the Pakas, 
the various Modes of composition. These are the ingre- 
dients that heighten the beauty of the Epic. 

Words fall into three clsses 

Vachaka, Lakshaka and Vyanjaka; likewise their 
meanings. The Vachya represents the connotation as laid 
down in authoritative lexicons. The philosophers hold 
that the primal words were assigned their respective sig- 
nificance by the Divine Being. The Lakshya seeks an allied 
and derivative signification where the first fails to be 
appropriate. The Vyangya comes to light when the words 
have been arranged in their grammatical order and 
have expressed their natural meaning ; it is apart 
from the above and renders it more graceful and charming. 
Dhvani is another name for it. 

There are numerous Figures of Speech, chief amongst 
.which arc a hundred. These do not belie the name given 
them of Alanrkara (ornamentation). From 'Slesha (the 


pun), to Gathi (the way), there are 24 Gunas (attributes) 
that go to make up the character of the Epic. These are 
to be found in the arrangement of the words themselves, 

Reeh (Diction): this excellent choice of words is 
divided into, 

Vaidarbhi difficult word-joinings, harsh letters and 
long compounds, find no place in it. 

Gaudt long and tedious compounds characterise it 
and harsh letter.s 

Panchali a happy combination of the above. 

Vntti (Style)- the words and the sense aptly render 
the varying emotions. This is of four kinds. 

KaiMki reflecting the higher emotions of Love and 

A rabhati .painting the Wonderful, the Humourous 
and the Serene 

Satvati picturing to us the Heroic and the Dreadful. 

Bharati wherein the Terrible and the Repulsive find 
a voice, 

Sayya the words must be so arranged that their rela- 
tions might not be far-fetched. 

Paka: unripe fruits are wrapped up m straw or other- 
wise subjected to the influence of heat to make them soft 
and mellow. 

The nobility and grandeur of composition gives a 
beauty and charm to the emotions of the heart. 

Draksha Paka (the Grape) The grape requires not 
much effort to make it yield its sweet juice ; so, the 
piece charms us with its manifold graces even while we 
read it. 

Nahkera Paka (the Cocoanut) You have to painfully 
remove its hard rind, break through the shell, get at the 
nut and even then, you have to chew it soft before you 
enjoy its refreshing juice. Even so, the Epic does not 


easily surrender itself to you in all its beauty, but puts f you 
through the veritable Labours of Hercules before it rewards 

The grape melts in your mouth ; the cocoanut is hard 
to crack Between these are found the Madhu (the Honey) 
the Ksheera (the Milk),the Kadali (the Plantain), and the like. 

The Epic Inferior has no Dhvani to boast of, but the 
superficial graces of words and their natural meanings. 
1 Chitra'is another name for it. 

The Epic Middling the natural mesfmng preponder- 
ates while the Dhvani peeps in now and then. 

The Epic Superior the Dhvani is essentially conspi- 
cuous and graces the words and their natural significance. 
Towns, the ocean, mountains, seasons, moonlight, sunrise* 
pleasant recreations m charming groves, aquatic sports, 
carousals, love-making, pangs of separation, wedding, birth 
of a son, councils of state, gambling, military expeditions, 
battles and the happy times of the hero have each a 
chapter or more devoted to them. Various feelings and 
emotions that sway the human heart find perfect expression. 
The chapters are not long and tedious. The metres used 
in them are sweet to the ear. Each chapter vanes the 
metre at its close. 

This is the Epic Perfect ; and the Ramayana of 
Valmeeki is its best exponent. 

Such a work is a source of joy to us in this world and 
in the other. "An Epic brings us fame, wealth and worldly 
wisdom ; it keeps our feet from the Path of Evil ; it needs 
but be studied to charm ; it ever counsels us aright like a 
true love." Kavya Prakasa. 

"Who will say that the study of noble Epics destroys 
not the dark brood of sin and evil in us ? Whom does it not 


char t m ? Whom does it not save from the wiles of wrong?'' 

The Maha Kavya 9 the Grand Epic. 

The Hero ennobles the Epic. His very name drives 
away from us the Things of Darkness, and gathers round 
us the sweet Angels of good. Such a one must be sung of 
by it. Bhamahacharya 

11 The Mount Mem towers aloft in gredtness and 
grandeur ; but the Tree of Plenty (Kalpaka) makes it more 
charming and graceful Figures of Speech, Style, Diction, 
and Modes do beautify the Epic. ut the perfect Hero is its 
crest-jewel.'' Udbhatatharya 

(t An Epic owes its life and fame to its noble Hero." 
Rudra Bhatta. 

11 The Hero's noble attributes hold together the poet's 
word-gems that shine for all tune around the necks of the 
lovers of literature." Sahitya Meemamsa. 

The poet may be modest of speech and his attain- 
ments of no very high order ; but his choice of a Hero 
compels the attention of the most fastidious King Bhoja. 

Else, the wise pay no great heed to them. 

The Maha Bharata lives for ever in the hearts of men, 
only because the Lord Sree Krishna forms its central figure 
and hero. 

The Science of Reasoning finds a place in the life of 
the Great One, since it affords analogical evidence and in- 
ference that the Lord is the instrumental and material 
cause of the universe. 

The Science of Ritual is also useful in this way. One 
should learn the Holy Writ first and then alone proceed 
to inquire into the nature of the various Rules of Life laid 
down therein ; so begins the teaching. It sets itself to 
bring home to our hearts the Divine attributes and excel- 
lences. It is the hand-maiden of the Royal Science of Self, 


The Vedanta, the Science of the Absolute,' leads ijs to 
the feet of the Supreme One by holding up for our venera- 
tion and ideal His countless perfections. 

Q. The Monistshold that the Absolute has no attri- 
butes. How then can the Science deal with the same ? 
How then can Vedanta profess to expound to us the nature 
and attributes of Brahman ? 

A . Though some passages deny any attributes to It, 
we can yet postulate that the absence of imperfection is 
perfection. Or, we predicate attributes of It in Its condi- 
tioned and manifested aspect. Hence, Sciences and World- 
histories find a place in the estimation of the Wise and 
attain deathless fame, in so far as they contribute to unfold 
to human minds the glory of the Great One. 

The Ramayana of Valmeeki is the oldest Epic in the 
world ; and it bids fair to rule the hearts of men to the 
very end of Time. 

He who sung it is throned aloft in the Temple of Fame. 
And why ? Sree Rama, the Supreme One, is the Hero of his 
immortal poem. He is the noblest of the noble. His Name 
dispels the Things of Gloom and Darkness and Evil. All 
excellences find their perfect expression in him. "He who 
hath not drunk of the beauty of Rama's presence, he upon 
whom the benign glances of Rama have not rested, even 
for a while, the world throws him out as a thing peculiarly 
vile ; nay, his very self scorns him." V. R. II. 17. 

Of a truth, it is but a waste of time and labour to study 
poems that come not up to the above level. 

The Hero 

Fame and valour are his ; the Aims of Life he next 
his heart ; round him centre the chief events ; in him shine 
forth all heroic qualities; and he alone enjoys the supreme 
good that the poem holds out- 


t The Hero must exemplify in himself the following : 

1. High birth (V. R. II. 1). 

2. His natural beauty, though unadorned, should 
captivate the hearts of the beholders, even as though it was 
adorned to perfection. 

3. He must hold his head higher than any other 
ruler of men and should bow to no other. 

4. His munificence and generosity must quite over- 
whelm those that seek him. 

5. The grandeur of his presence must illuminate the 
world, even like the noon-day sun. 

6. A right adaptation of means to ends, a marvel- 
lous perception, almost intuitive, of the when, the where, 
and the how, of human actions. t ] 

7. A heart ever wedded to the Great Law (I^R.IL 2). 

8. Divine origin (V. R. II. 1). I 

9. A perfect knowledge and mastery of' all me know- 
ledge of his time (V. R. II. 2). j 

10. Supreme simplicity and unassumingnesi. 

The Hero is of four kinds j 

1. Dhirodatta. Joy and sorrow, anger and grief have 
power to move him not. Deep is his heart! beyond 
ken, even when ovei whelming emotions would 
lay bare its profundity. He would not see any one, 
man or beast, in pain or grief, but would at once devote 
himself to relieve it. He is remarkable by the almost 
utter absence of self. He sees through the Eye of Wisdom 
and listens through the Ear of Experience. The Heroic 
emotions dominate in him. 

(2) Dhiroddhata. Proud and jealous, he is a man of 
impulses. Of fierce deeds, he boasts of them and of him- 
self, whenever the mood is on him. His knowledge of 
things enable him to make others see and hear and feel 

R 31 


what he likes. Quick to feel and ready to revenge, Jhe 
Terrible characterises him. 

(3) Dhira Santa, Of infinite patience, all griefs touch 
him and vanish. He has ever a smile and a gentle word 
for all. The Serene finds its expression in him ; and he is 
a Brahmana as a rule. 

(4) Dhira Lalita* He leaves the cares of state and its 
control to his sons or his ministers. The gentler and finer 
arts of life occupy his time and attention. A happy life 
and a quiet is what he aims after. The emotion of Love is 
the key-stone of his character. 

The Rasas (Emotions). 

A modification of mental consciousness brought into 
existenqf through 

(1) Vibhava Youth, beauty, intelligence, the moon- 
light, the southern zephyr, the spring, the flowers, the joyous 
notes of birds and the like (V. R. IV. 1.) 

(2) Anubtliava The witching glances of women, the 
play of their /eye-brows, and the like. 

(3) ^atvika Utter sympathy with others, even to the 
extent of experiencing in himself their joys and sorrows; and 

(4) Sanchan : The minor emotions, 32 in number, 
from Dispassion to Anxiety. 

Nine are the Rasas, the flashes that play over the 
dark waters of the human heart Love, Humour, Pathos, 
the Terrible, the Heroic, Fear, the Repulsive, Wonder and 
Serenity. Man and woman are moved strangely by each 
other ; and this is known as Sthayi Bhava, varying with 
everyone of the above emotions. But, till it developes into 
any one of these, the others should not dominate it ; the 
modifying causes, mentioned above, Vibhava and the like, 
should nourish it and give it an independent existence 
as a Rasa. Man loses himself in the experience of 


it. ^ (The above is a very superficial mention of the chief 
varieties ; but, the reader may profitably consult Dasa 
Rupaka and other works on Rhetoric). 

Love, Valour, the Terrible, the Wonderful and the 
Serene ought to find a place in any narration of the life of 
the Hero. 

If the above are in any way unsuited to the Hero-type 
selected ; or if the Hero and the Heroine are wanting in 
mutual and perfect love ; or if the love of the Heroine 
stands higher than that of the Hero , or it animals, birds 
and savages form the subject of narration or description, 
it is a Perversion of Emotion. 

In the Ramayana, Love and the other Emotions find 
apt and perfect expression. Rama takes Seeta to wife and lives 
happily with her m his father's capital for many years. The 
course of true love runs smooth here. Ravana kidnaps her, 
and then we have a fine description of the miseries of sepa- 
rated lovers. The episode of Surpanakha is a fine touch of 
humour, Dasaratha pines away of sorrow, having lost, 
through his own folly, the son of his heart, Pathos, supreme 
and touching, characterises the entire scene, Lakshmana's 
deeds of valour illustrate the Heroic m man. Ravana and 
his impious brood, with their cruelties, their savage grandeur 
and their unbounded might, voice forth the Terrible. The 
incident of Mareecha and his km is a fine picture of the 
Fearful. Kabandha, Viradha and their fellow-monsters, ap- 
propriate to themselves the Repulsive. Wonderful past 
belief are the deeds of battle and might of Ravana, Indrajit, 
Kumbhakarna and the like ; and Saban, the woman -saint, 
embodies the Serene in her noble life. But, Love in its 
myriad aspects dominates the epic throughout ; the other 
emotions are but auxiliary. Some hold that the epic is titled 
1 The Fall of Ravana ; and that the Heroic is the master- 
emotion, while the others are but secondary. Others contend 


that Valmeeki named his grand- work the Seetacharitra and 
Grief forms the key-note of the whole, while the others are its 


The Heroine. 

She partakes to a very great extent of the excellent 
characteristics of the Hero, in so far as they are applicable 
to women. Her very name must be a Word of 
Power to keep away evil and attract the Angels of Light. 
(For a fuller description of the heroine and her innumer- 
able varieties, Dasa Rupaka and other standard works on the 
Poetics may be consulted). 

VI. The Aims of Life. 

"An Ithihasa should take as its subject some famous 
episode of the Past ; it should lead us to the realisation of 
Virtue, Wealth, Love and Beatitude" says the Sabda- 
sthoma. The only World-records that come up to the mark 
are the Ramayana of Valmeeki, the Mahabharata of Veda- 
vyasa and the Samhita of Gargacharya. 

Valmeeki divides his grand epic into the Purvakanda, 
narrating the life and adventures of Sree Rama, the Divine 
Incarnation ; and the Uttarakanda, where Vasishtha ini- 
tiates Sree Rama into the Science of Brahman. The former 
inculcates virtue, wealth and love , the latter forms the Light 
on the Path of Perfection. 

Virtue consists m the proper discharge of duties that 
are consonant to the Holy Books, that do not militate 
against the Right, and that mark the stage of, Evolution the 
Jeeva has reached. 

Wealth is the acquisition and the enjoyment of the 
goods of this world, power, place, fame, authority, influence 
and the like. 

Love is the master-passion that draws man and woman 
to one another. 


s Now, Valmeeki has utilised the various incidents in his 
epic to exemplify the workings of the above. A father's 
word is a law to the son; to discharge it to his very best is his 
duty ; right or wrong, pregnant with weal or woe, he may 
not stop to consider ; and Rama renounced, with a glad 
heart, the mighty empire that \\as his by right and exiled 
himself to the lonely woods. 

Brotherly love, almost ideal, and the attitude of the 
youngers towards the eldest, no where finds more touching 
expression than in the relations of Rama/tLakshmana, 
Bharata, and Satrughna to one another. 

A wife's place is ever by the side of her [husband. 
Sunshine or ram, joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, she should 
ever share it with him; and Seeta is the ideal wife for all time. 

Sages, hermits, and holy men form the life and soul 
of a people ; and a king's highest duty consists in seeing 
that they want for nothing and are protected against every- 
thing that might mterfeie with the proper discharge of their 
noble trust. Rama passed his word to the saints of Dandaka 
and laid low Viradha, Kabandha, Ravana and the other 
workers of evil. 

Kings and Emperors in the pride of their power and 
might, are as nothing before the spiritual glory of a 
Brahmana; the superhuman efforts of Visvamithra and the 
humble reverence paid by Sree Rama, the Divine king, to 
the pure and the holy Ones are a lesson for all mankind. 

Strength and power, wealth and valour far above the 
human, and fierce embattled hosts countless as the sands of 
the ocean, are as nothing, if the possessor thereof turns 
away from the Path of Right to work evil upon the good 
and the wise and uproot the foundations of Law and 
Justice ; and the dreadful fate that overtook Ravana and the 
millions that owned his sway, is a warning not to be 


Virtue ever outweighs wealth in the estimatiop of 
the good ; Rama gave up, with a joyful heart, the king- 
dom of the Ikshvakus and the wealth of the earth. 

Any service rendered to us, be it the slightest, should ever 
bear fruit in us, even like the seed of the spreading banyan. 
Jatayu, the Vulture-King, defended Seeta with his life; and 
Rama, the incarnation of the Divine, rendered unto him the 
last offices and passed him on to the Worlds of Light. 

Sugreeva offered him his friendship, consolation and 
help, when Rama wandered, heavy of heart and sore of 
foot, in the frightful solitudes of Dandaka ; he preserved 
for him the ornaments that Seeta threw down to him when 
she was spirited away by Ravana , in return, Rama gave 
him back his wife and a kingdom along with her. 

Vibheeshana, sore afflicted and pierced to the heart by 
the cruel words of his brother, sought refuge with Rama ; 
length of life beyond that of mortals and unbounded sway 
over the Rakshasas of the world were his reward. 

Love should be ever in consonance with Virtue and 
Law ; else, it is sweet poison. Dasaratha laid his manhood 
at the feet of the imperious Kaikeyi, exiled his noble son 
to the dreadful forests even in the prime of his youth ; and 
the slave of Love paid for it with his life. Rama yielded to 
the importunities of Seeta to chase the"golden deer and lost 
her. Vah deprived his brother of his wife, all unjustly and 
in hasty wrath, and his life was the forfeit. Ravana laid 
violent hands on Seeta anddoomed himself to destruction, 
root and branch. 

True it is there are only some episodes in it that place our 
feet on the Path of Liberation ; but, the mystery of Man, the 
Universe and the Absolute, the various Paths that lead to It 
do not find a prominent place in it. The Uttarakanda or 
as it is better known, the Vasishtha Ramayana, deals with it 
in its entirety. The Poorvakanda was taught to the royal 


youths Kusa and Lava ; and the Science of Self may not be 
properly expounded therein. It is divided into six cantos 
of 24,000 stanzas; the sixth is further divided into the Poorva 
(Yuddha) and the Uttarakandas. The spnitual teachings 
in the Ramayana are given by Valmeeki to Bharadwaja. It 
is a monumental work by itself. It is arranged into six 
Kandas of 32,000 stanzas, the last canto being divided into 
the Poorva arid the Uttara. It is more popularly known as 
Gnana Vasishtha Ramayana and the Yoga Vasishtha Rama- 
yana. There are no grounds to class this among the minor 
Puranas, as some have done. 

VII. Its divine origin. 

The Almighty Father sat on His Throne of Glory in the 
highest heavens. His consorts Sree, Boomi and Neela 
(Divine Energies) graced His side. The Angels of Light and 
the Emancipated Souls thronged the Divine Presence, sing- 
ing His glories. But, the Lord's look was far away, to where 
His children groped in darkness on this mortal earth. "Ah me, 
the pity of it! they are as well entitled to be in my presence as 
any of these , but, they will not. As the grains of gold in 
the ball of wax, they are swirled among the waves of Matter 
and are lost" And out of the depths of His infinite compas- 
sion towards those poor souls ever bound to the Wheel of 
Time, He provided vehicles of manifestation to them, that 
might dedicate them to A is service and thereby reach His 
feet. Yet, they would not be saved. A poor wretch was 
wringing his hands in despair on the banks of a torrent 
roaring in its flood. A kind soul took pity on him 
and gave him a boat well-furnished, saying, " My good man ! 
weep not. Take tins boat of mine, and cross over to yonder 
bank swiftly and in safety." The poor wretch was profuse 
in his thanks ; he jumped into the boat and set her head 
against the current, But, alas ! when he was on the safe 


side of the stream, his evil genius put it into his head to go 
along with the current, to where the river shattered itself to 
pieces over a sheer wall of rock and lost itself in the abyss be- 
low. Even so, the children for whom His heart bled misused 
the means of salvation so mercifully furnished them and 
were engulfed in the Quicksands of Pleasure. Then the 
Lord said to Himself, " Poor things ! they have no means 
of following the Right and keeping away from the Wrong"; 
and He gave them His commandments The Vedas. 

Yet, his children would not be saved. They failed to 
construe the Holy Books aright ; they misunderstood it ; 
they perverted its purpose. Then, like a king who sets out to 
reclaim his rebellious subjects by the might of his presence, 
He chose to come down from his Worlds of Light down to 
this dark dull Earth and resolved to take birth as Rama, 
Lakshmana, Bharata, and Satrughna; for, Example is better 
than Precept. The king sets the pace and his subjects do 
but follow him. Meanwhile, Brahma and the bright Gods had 
sought his protection from the terrible Rakshasas that 
hung like a pall of darkness over the worlds. Dasaratha 
had gone through untold austerities to have the privilege 
of being His earthly father. Further, has he not promised 
to all beings, " I come down among you in every cycle to 
lay low the wicked, exalt the righteous and to restore the 
Great Law.' As Rama, he rid the worlds of Ravana and was a 
type of filial duty. As Lakshmana, he killed Indra jit and 
lived out a life of sweet service to the Lord. As Bharata, he 
destroyed the wicked Gandharvas and made his life a touch- 
ing lesson of supreme surrender to the Lord; and as Satrugh- 
na, he rid the earth of Lavana and illustrated in his life the 
noble doctrine of absolute service to the Lord's Elect. 

Brahma, the Fashioner of the Worlds, ever intent 
upon the welfare of all beings, thought it a duty and a privi- 
lege to preserve for all time the grand Truths so taught 


and so lived. He sung the Life of Sree Rama, in 100 crores 
of stanzas ; Narada and the other sages of the Brahmaloka 
learnt it from him. Meanwhile, Brahma cast about for 
some pure and devoted soul through whom the message 
could be conveyed to the sons of men. Valmeeki, purified 
by centuries of devout meditation upon Sree Rama, and of 
recitation of his Holy Name, shone brightest among the 
mortals. And to him so nobly qualified for the task, he 
sent his son Narada. " Valmeeki received from Narada the 
life of Rama sung at great length by Brahma." (Matsya Pu- 
rana). It dispelled for ever the doubts and questionings 
under which Valmeeki 's soul had been labouring. The 
veil was lifted from the face of the Great Mystery. Brah- 
ma gave him the Open Eye of the Seer ; and the result 
was the grandest and the best epic poem in the world- 
even Ramayana, that forms the key to the heart-doctrine of 
the Vedas (Go.'s Preface to his commentary upon the Rama- 

VIII. // is an Exposition of the Gayathn. 

Parabrahman tne Absolute, is the Alpha and the Ome- 
ga. The Pranava or the Word of Power, tries to convey 
to the universe the Triple Mystery, the Three in One and 
the One in Three. The Gayathn is an amplification, though 
faint, of the Word. It is the quintessence of the Vedas, the 
germ out of which they evolved. Of the 7 crores of Words 
of Power, it is the mightiest. The twice-born Brahmanas, 
Kshathriyas and Vaisyas meditate upon its countless 
mysteries when the Sun, the symbol of Life and Light, 
rises, when he stands high in the heavens and when he kisses 
his bride on the threshold of the west. It is the only means 
to secure the Aims of Life. 

Now, wonderful to behold ! every thousand stanzas in 

K 33 


the Ramayana begin with one of the letters of the Gayathri. 
Hence, the Ramayana is something more than an epic 
poem ; something higher than a work of art. 




































































































IX. ' The Inner Meaning.' 

" The Puranas and the Ithihasas unlock the mysteries of 
the Vedas" say the wise. Ramayana should, in conse- 
quence, deal with the problems of Life and Being. 

" From whom does this universe derive its existence ? 
In whom does it live and have its being ? To whom does it 


go back when its purpose has been served ? It it 
Parabrahman " (Taiththareeya Upamshad). " But what is Is 
to us, Brahma, the Ancient ot Days ? Vishnu, the Presever ? 
Rudra, the Destroyer ?" Valmeeki's opening lines voice 
forth the same query. " Who is he that embodies in him- 
self all these manifold excellences?" " Sree Rama" replies 
Narada. And at the end of the Poem, Brahma reiterates 
the same Truth. "In the beginning Thou wert ; later on I was 
begotten of Thee. The whole universe was latent in Thee. 
Over the Great Waters Thou didst brood. The lotus came out 
of Thy navel ; and on it I was. Thou didst ordain me as 
the Fashioner of Forms. V. R. VII. 104. 

The poet touches upon this point more than once in 
the course of the poem. " Meanwhile Maha Vishnu, the 
Lord of the Universe, manifested himself unto them, in His 
supreme glory. The Conch, the Wheel and the Mace 
graced His hands. The graceful folds of His vesture flash- 
ed as lightning through a storm-cloud" do. I. 15. He 
is the Refuge of all , " Lord of Might, Terror of Foes ! Thou 
art our sole Refuge" do. 

All creation lifts its voice on high, in praise of Him 
and Him alone ; " Then the Gods, the Sages, the Rudras, 
the Gandharvas and the Apsarasas sang high the praises of 
the Lord in strains of noble melody." do. 

He is the Great One. Tapas alone can open our eye 
to His glory ; " I know the mystery of Rama, the Great 
One whose will is omnipotent. Vasishtha and the other 
sages here know it too, for, illimitable is their knowledge 
and power " (I. 19), "This Great Being shines resplend- 
ant beyond Darkness" (Purusha Sooktha). "The Brahmanas 
know Him through the teachings of the Vedas, through 
renunciation, through immortal Tapas.' 1 (Sruthi). 

He is the Causeless Cause ; "Brahma, the Fashioner, 
came out of the Unmamfested." (I. 70). 

He is higher than the highest : <4 Then the Gods 
and the Sages knew that He was the mightier/' (I. 75). 

He is Time and Boundless Duration ; * The Gods pray- 
ed to Him for deliverance from Ravana, whose hand lay 
heavy upon the worlds ; and the Lord of Time, Maha 
Vishnu, came down unto the Earth" (II. 1), 

He is the Eternal Light and pervades all ; " From the 
Unmanifested came Brahma, Eternal, all-knowing and all- 
powerful. (II. 110). 

Inconceivable is His might; " No limit do I see to the 
power of Him, whom Seetha, the child of Janaka, owns as 
her Lord." (III. 38). 

All excellences attain their perfect expression in 
Him. Being, Consciousness and Bliss. " Thou art the 
goal of the good; Thou art the sole refuge of the miserable ; 
Thou art the balm that healeth the wounds of sorrow ; 
Thou art fame ; Thou knowest all things great and small ; 
Thou art the model of filial duty ; Thou art the Unknow- 
able, the Unattainable ; Thou dost transcend the senses ; 
Thou teachest by example the highest Law ; Thy Name is 
engraved on the face of Eternity ; Thou art the head and 
foundation of knowledge and wisdom ; Thou art gentle 
and patient, even as Mother Earth ; Thy eyes are 
lovely as the fresh-blown petals of the red-lotus." 
(IV. 15-22). 

He is the Great Destroyer. " The self -born One, the 
Ancient of Days, the four-faced Brahma ; the Destroyer of 
the Asuras of the Three Cities, the three-eyed Rudra ; and 
the lord of the Celestials, Indra, dare not come between 
Rama and the object of his righteous wrath. (V. 51). 

The source of Form and Name, countless are His 
manifestations ; " I have heard it say that Maha Vishnu is 
higher thaa the highest, is the One, the Unmanifested, 


endtess and beyond thought and speech. Has He taken 
form as this monkey and come down among us to work^our 
destruction ?" (V. 54). 

Q* "In the beginning was Hiranyagarbha " ; " Dark- 
ness was not, nor day, nor night ; Being was not, nor Non- 
being. It alone was." " Indra took countless forms through 
his power of illusion." Such Vedic texts lead us to conclude 
that Brahma, Rudra, Indra and such like may well be the 
cause of the universe. 

A. " This great Yogi (Adept) is the Supreme Self, 
eternal, without beginning, middle or end. He is beyond 
Darkness, beyond the Mahat (the Great Element). There 
is none higher than He. He is the slay of the universe and 
its support. The divine weapons grace His hands. On His 
broad breast shines Sreevathsa, the mole. Mahalakshmi is 
his inseparable partner. He is invincible, immortal and 
eternal. " 

The above passage teaches us that He is the 
Supreme and no other. Be-ness, Self and similar expressions 
do but denote Him ; and Brahma, Siva, Indra and every 
other name is His. He is the highest Self. He is the Lord 
of matter and wisdom. He is Narayana ; " Thou art 
Narayana ; Thou art the eternal consort of the Divine 
Mother ; Thou art omnipresent ; Thou art the Great Boar 
with a single horn ; Thou art the slayer of the wicked, past, 
present and future. " (VI. 120). 

Q. " The Gods regarded Vishnu as the higher. " 
But we need not take that it was his natural position ; but 
one acquired by Thapas from Siva. 

A. Then, Rudra had no reason to be angry ; but, we 
read that he was consumed with wrath when he handed 
over his bow. Besides, we read that he had no place of 
worship in Agasthya's House of Gods ; nor was. he regarded 


asan object of worship. " Brahma, Vishnu, Agni, Indra, 
Soorya, Chandra, Baga, Kubera and others had their altars 
of worship." (HI. 13). 

Q. Why not take it that the above Beings came down 
to render worship to him ? Rudra, as the highest, does not 
naturally find mention along with them ; for, we read " Here 
do Gods, Gandharvas, Siddhas and Sages repair to offer their 
respects to Agasthya." (do. 11.) 

A. Not so ; the passage refers to the Celestials of the 
heavenly world, and not to Brahma or Vishnu. Besides, we 
erect places of worship to enshrine the Gods we bow to ; 
not that the Gods come down there to pay reverence to 
us. Moreover, Paramasiva was not invited to partake of 
the offerings during the sacrifice of Daksha. He is not an 
object of worship to be placed on the same level as the 
Lord Vishnu ; else, he would have found a place in Agas- 
thya's temple* Salvation is in the hands of the Supreme 
One ; and who is it but Sree Rama, whose grace lifted Jata- 
yu to the Worlds of Light ? Hence, the Ramayana teaches 
us that Maha Vishnu is the supreme Brahman, whom we 
perceive through his Holy Writ. " Listen to me, while I 
speak to the thousands assembled here, This poem that 
sings of your life and deeds, is the best and the grandest of 
all. This epic that unfolds your countless excellences 
to the hearts of all, is the first of its kind. None do I know 
that better deserves to be the hero of any epic, now and for 
ever ; for, you are the rest and support of all " (do. VII. 98.) 
That is how Brahma speaks of the Lord ; and he stands 
nearest to Him. It is but a waste of time and labour to apply 
the Ramayana and its incidents to Rudra. 

Q. If Rama be the Supreme One, how is it that we 
hear of his worshipping the sun to strengthen himselt 
against Ravana? 


A. "When you are in Rome do as the Romans do/ 1 
He was in the world of men, and should behave as such. 
This explains his discipleship under Visvamithra. 

So, the Balakanda teaches us that the Lord Vishnu 
is the Cause of the universe ; in the Ayodhyakanda, He 
appears as the Protector ; m the Aranyakanda, He leads 
his children unto his House ; in the Kishkindhakanda, His 
manifold excellences are brought home to us ; in the 
Sundarakanda, He appears m his irresistible might ; and 
in the Yuddhakanda, He is declared to be the goal of all 
knowledge, human and divine. 

Q. This Supreme One, how is he realised ? 

A. "He who brought into manifestation Brahma before 
the rest, He who imparted unto him the beginning and the 
end of all wisdom, He who illuminates our intellect and 
our soul, as supreme Deity thereof, Him do I take refuge 
in, desirous of Liberation." This Vedic text is the key-note 
of Valmeeki's poem. Supreme surrender to the Lord is the 
best means to accomplish our desires. 

(a) " Meanwhile, the Lord of the Worlds, Maha Vishnu 
manifested himself unto them m his infinite glory. The 
Divine Weapons graced his hands, while his bright garments 
flashed as lightning from the heart of storm-clouds" 
(VR.I. 15). The Supreme Lord was anxiously awaiting the 
moment when the Gods would appeal to him for help and 
protection. His glory was heightened as it were by the joy 
that the time had come for him to do good to them. 
He was ever armed and ever ready. " Smite Ravana 
sore ; burn him up" cried the Gods one and all. This is 
the first example we have of Surrender. 

(b) The episodes of Sunassepha and Thrisanku teach 
that the highest duty lies m protecting those that seek 


refuge with us. Ever seek the feet of Him who is ableand 
willing, out of the mercy of his heart, to save you ; and you 
will not have asked in vain. 

(c) " Lakshmana clasped the feet of his brother and 
took refuge with him, praying Seetha to intercede for 
him, (II. 31). So, an efficient Intercessor is a necessary 
element in Surrender. 

" Until Rama grants my prayer, I quit not this hermit- 
age, but shall ever call upon him in fasting and penance 

en. in). 

Bharatha took refuge with Rama, as he desired to bring 
about his restoration to the throne of Ayodhya. But, the 
Lord had come out of it to fulfil his promise to the Devas ; 
so, he entrusted to Bharatha his sandals. He annihilated 
Ravana and his brood, redeemed his promise to the Gods, 
and later on, fulfilled the object which Bharatha sought at 
his hands. So, Surrender is never in vain. 

(d) The holy hermits of Dandaka took refuge with 
Rama saying, " We live within your dominions and are 
entitled to your care and protection. We care not whether 
you are a crowned king at Ayodhya or a religious recluse 
in these lonely forests. You are our king everywhere and 
for ever." (III. 1). Residence within the domi- nionsof 
the Lord forms a claim upon his mercy and amounts to 
seeking refuge with him. 

(e) " The Crow of black heart sought shelter with his 
father, the king of the Gods, with the Celestials and with the 
Sages. But, they turned him away. The three worlds held 
none that dared to take him in. Back he came to where 
Rama sat and threw himself at his feet. The Lord of 
Compassion, the refuge of all, looked down in pity at the 
suppliant. His offence deserved cruel death and worse j 
yet, the Lord spared him." (V. ,18). This is another mode 
of taking refuge clasping the feet of the deliverer. 


tf) " You have offended Sree Rama ; I see no other 
means of saving yourself ; lift your hands to Lakshmana and 
appeal to his mercy." (V. R. IV. 32) This advice of 
Thara reveals to us yet another mode of it clasping our 
hands in humility and reverence. 

(g) " Ravana ! Have you a mind to live in peace and 
prosperity P Would you save yourself from a terrible death ? 
Then, make a friend of Sree Rama, the Ideal man ; for, know 
you not that he embodies in himself the Law ? They that 
seek refuge of him, for ever leave behind sorrow and pam,fear 
and grief " (Ib. V. 21). So said Seetha, Verily, the turn- 
ing of the heart to the Lord amounts to taking refuge in him. 

(k) " Ravana treated me as a vile slave and put me to 
shame before all. His sharp words pierced my heart 
through and through. So, I have cast behind me wife and 
child, wealth and luxury, and sought refuge with Rama." 
(Ib. VI. 17). Vibheeshana, who spoke the above, teaches 
us that we should rid ourselves of such obstacles as would 
stand in the way of our seeking refuge with Him. Further 
on, we read that " Rama spread the sacred grass on the 
sands of the ocean and lay upon them with folded hands 
and face turned towards the East (Ib. id. 22). 

Q. But, his efforts were in vain ? 

A. Our would-be saviour must have the heart and 
and the arm to free us from our sorrow and fear ; but, the 
Ruler of the Waters was not one such. 

(i) "A terrible doom hangs over the heads of the Raksha- 
sas and through Rama. So, let us lift our hands in humble 
entreaty to Seetha to intercede for us." (Ib. V. 27). Thus 
spoke Thnjata; and the other Rakshasi-guards signified their 
assent thereto by their silence. Later on, this bore wonder- 
ful fruit, in that Seetha saved them from the vengeance of 
Hanuman. So, it appears that one can take refuge and 
extend the benefits to others, 

i 93 


(j) Vibheeshana sought shelter of Rama ; but, the*four 
ministers that accompanied him were saved along with him. 
So, the Lord's protection extends even to those that accom- 
pany the suppliant. 

Enough has been said to prove that Valmeeki regards 
the Doctrine of Refuge as the sole path that leads to Libera- 
tion, and realises for us our utmost wishes here and here- 


Service to the Lord is the first fruits of our efforts 
in this direction ; and then, the delight of His presence. 
This is another Truth underlying the epic. 

(a) The Gods sought refuge with the Lord from the 
cruelties of Ravana. But, they took birth of Yakshas, Gan- 
dharvas, Apsarasas and Sages to render homage and sweet 
service to Him ; the death of Ravana came later on. 

(b) " Brother mine ! waking or sleeping, day or night, 
your humble servant am I, in the lordly capital or in the lonely 
woods." (Ib II. 31). Lakshmana spoke so in the 
height of his joy. Rendering humble service to the Lord 
and out best, at all times, in all places, in all conditions of 
life is the supreme reward of Surrender. 

(c) Bharatha prayed that Rama should come back to 
Ayodhya as its king, only that he may be allowed to render 
him service. But> he was made to offer them to the 
sandals of Rama before he realised his wishes. 

(d) The saints and sages that abode in the forest of 
Dandaka claimed the protection of Rama from the cruel 
Rakshasas. But, they were rewarded first by his sweet pre- 
sence and sweeter speech. He dawned upon their vision 
like the radiant moon, and they poured out their hearts in 
fervent blessings. 

(e) " Sugreeva, the child of the Sun, gave this signal 
proof of his valour and humbled the pride of Ravana ; after 


which, he flew back to the side of Rama." (Ib. VI. 40). 
Said Vibheeshana "I have put behind me Lanka, my friends 
in it and my wealth. My life, my kingdom, my friends, my 
all is centred in you.' \Ib.tdA 9)Both looked upon the humble 
service that they offered to Rama as the prime reward of 
seeking his protection. 

(f) The Crow besought him to spare his life ; and it 
was done. His cry was not in vain. But, he must he taught 
to turn his feet for ever from the way of the wicked ; and 
his eye was the forfeit. 

fg) Rama of the Axe came with a heart tall with pride ; 
and Sree Rama drew his shaft to his ear to destroy for ever 
the hopes of the proud warrior. But, when the scales fell 
from the eyes of Parasurama, he recognised His Lord and 
Master ; and prayed that the shaft may destroy what stood 
in the way of his attaining Emancipation. 

(h) The Ruler of the Waters heeded not the command 
of Rama ; but, when he found that Rama's shaft was consu- 
ming him, he prayed to be saved. Rama, out of his infinite 
compassion, spared him ; nay, the shaft was directed 
against the wicked Asuras that harassed the ocean-king. 

He who seeks refuge must be conscious of his utter 
inability to save himself. He should be denied shelter by 
every one. Now, Rama possessed not these essentials. 
Further, the Saviour must be omniscient, must be 
omnipotent, which the ocean-king was not. But, Vibheeshana, 
proud in the fulfilment of his prayers, requested Sree Rama 
to imitate him. But Sree Rama was not Vibheeshana ; nor 
the ocean-king Sree Rama. 

There are no stringent conditions about this Doctrine 
of Refuge time, place, qualifications and the like. 

Hence, the Ramayana is an Exposition of the Doctrine 
of Surrender (Saranagathi Grantha). 

The Lord's might and his wisdom were made manifest 


in his breaking of the bow of Rudra ; in the humbling of 
Parasurama; in the piercing of the seven Sala trees ; and 
in the bridge that he cast over the rebellious ocean. 
His behaviour when he was separated from Seetha, brings 
out the supreme compassion of his heart and its pathos. 
His friendship towards Guha, Sabari and Sugreeva 
reflects his goodness. He protected Visvamithra's sacrifice 
from the Rakshasas that threatened to destroy it. He 
saved the sages of the Dandakaranya from the night- 
rangers that afflicted them sore. He gave refuge to the 
Devas who groaned under the iron heel of Ravana, 
Indrajith, Kumbhakarna and their followers. Those that 
had the good fortune to be born in his kingdom enjoyed 
the delight of his presence, and were privileged to have 
before their eyes a living ideal of everything good and 
great. And when He went back to his abode on high, 
he took them along with him and gave them a place near 
his throne. These are proofs enough of the Lord's protec- 
tive power. We can best realize our heart's fondest 
hopes only by taking refuge in the Lord, who shows forth 
in perfection such excellences as power, compassion 
and goodness. But yet, service to the Lord comes 
before the attainment of a place near his Throne of 
Glory. That is our chief reward ; the others are but 
incidental, and by the way. 


The Glorious life of Seetha is how Valmeeki has named 
'is great work. Thrice was she separated from her lord 
and husband ; supreme compassion is the key-note of 
her character ; she is after the Lord's own heart. Now 
these attributes are essential to the One who is to be our, 
Intercessor when we take refuge in the Lord. 

(a) The black-hearted crow owed his life to Seetha's 
intercession. Ravana had it not and lost his life. 


(6) Vibheeshana took refuge with Rama through an 
Intercessor. " The world knows me as Vibheeshana. I take 
my refuge in Rama. Let him know it" (76. VI. 17.) 
Likewise, Rama accepted the suppliant thiough Sugreeva, 
the Intercessor and said, " Lord of the Monkeys ! Bring 
him unto me. " (Ib. id. 18.) 

(c) Sugreeva himself sought refuge with Rama through 
Hanuman, who interceded for him. 

The above teaches us to know that we should seek the 
Lord's mercy only through an Intercessor ; or, we lose the 
benefit of it. 

We are the servants of the Lord. Lakshmana exempli- 
fied this grand truth throughout his long life of devotion. 
" We are the sons of Dasarathha; and I come next to Rama. 
His excellences drew me on to serve him " ; (Ib. IV. 4). 
" Accept me as your humble servitor. It is perfectly conso- 
nant with Law and Justice. Service rendered to you will 
realize for me the utmost hopes of my heart and it will go 
far to aid your work among men." (76. II. 31), said he, 
to emphasize the relations between himself and Rama. 


Bharatha could not contain himself and wept aloud 
before the assembled audience. He condemned Vasishtha 
for giving such pernicious advice. " I and this kingdom 
do belong to Rama. I pray you to advise me what is just 
and proper in this contingency." (Ib. id. 82). " Laksh- 
mana would not hear of it, and Rama but wasted his words 
upon him. So he was obliged to install Bharatha as heir-appa- 
rent". (76. VI. 131). The above illustrates the truth that 
Bharatha, of all, regarded himself as the property of the 
Lord, body and soul, to do as he liked. 



Bharatha started from Ayodhya to pay a visit to his 
mother's brother and took with him Sathrughna, the fault- 
less. The insidious foes that work our ruin Love and 
Hate and their kin were kept by him under his foot ; 
and joyfully did he follow his master. (/&. II. 1). He 
was the living exponent of the sublime Truth, that the 
best that a man can do is to be at the absolute disposal 
of the Lord's Elect. 


The Supreme, the Individual Self, the Means, the 
Goal and the Barriers these are the five Basic Truths of 
Divine Wisdom. The Ramayana is an authoritative ex- 
position of these, in that the deeds of Rama illuminate the 
nature of Brahman. The life of Lakshmana typifies the 
ideal Jeevathma (Individual Self). The various instances of 
the Doctrine of Surrender illustrate the nature of the 
Means. The episodes of Bharatha, Vibheeshana and others 
bring out in definiteness the Goal as embodied in the 
service rendered to the Lord, And Ravana and his km 
represent the Barriers 


(a) The very Gods are no good to save us. Ravana 
secured marvellous boons and powers from Brahma and 
Siva ; but, they failed him against Rama. 

(b) He that gives us birth can lift no hand to save us 
from grief. Dasarathha had to be an impotent spectator of 
his son's misfortunes. 

(c) The crow insulted Seetha past forgiveness ; and 
neither its parents, the king and the queen of the Immortals, 
nor its kith and kin could stand between it and its fate. 

(d) Sons and brothers cannot ward off the danger or 
the difficulty that overhangs us ; else, Vibheeshana and 


Kiunbhakarna could have saved Havana, their brother, from 
the wrath of Rama ; or for the matter of that, Indrajith, his 
son, mightier than all. 

So, it is brought home to us that the Lord is our only 

Hanuman and his doings in the capital of the Rakshasas 
is a hint to us, that we should seek to know of the nature of 
the Lord only through the Teacher. 


l( Rama, the terror of his foes, will shatter this 
town to pieces with his fiery arrows, and lead pie forth 
hence in triumph ; no other course befits his greatness and 
valour" said Seetha (Ib. V. 68.) Even when one is qualified 
to receive the Lord's Grace, he should patiently wait until 
the hour strikes for him to throw off his mortal coil, and stand 
before the Lord. For, Lanka, the capital of Ravana, is but the 
group of vehicles that the Self uses. Ravana, is the sense of 
I and Kumbhakarna is the sense of Mine. Indrajith and all 
the fierce-hearted Rakshasas do but typify Desire, Anger, 
Greed, etc. Vibheeshana, the bright exception, personifies 
Discriminative Knowledge. Seetha, the Individual Self, is 
confined by past Karma within the material vehicles. 
Hanuman, the Teacher, opens its eye to the mysteries of 
the Lord. It rests with Him to dissolve this fleshly tabernacle 
and lead out the imprisoned self into the light of Liberation. 


Such noble Beings as Rama are to be our ideals 
of conduct now and for ever ; while Ravana and the like, 
are the rocks upon which we would wreck and which we 


xiii , 

From the account of the inhabitants of the thrice- 
blessed Kosala, we learn that we should ever seek to dwell 
only where the Lord deigns to be. 


The Ramayana must of necessity form the subject 
of daily study and meditation, in that it expounds the 
mysteries underlying the Two Truths. 

The Balakanda treats of the marriage of Rama with 
Seetha ; in other words, it describes the Absolute, of which 
Matter and Consciousness are the two poles. This 
unmamfested aspect of Father Mother, Purusha Prakrithi 
or Parabhrahman Moolapraknthi is expressed by the 
syllable Sreemath. 

The Ayodhyakanda narrates at great length, the per- 
fections of Rama, and his ideal observance of all duties. It 
represents for us the Supreme one as Narayana, in his mani- 
fested aspect, 'He who broods over the waters. ' This is 
the connotation of the next word Narayanasya. 

The Aranyakanda gives us a vivid and entrancing 
picture of the Lord's divine form and beauty. This is how 
He shines forth in his Garment of the universe. 

11 In the roaring loom of Time I play, 

And weave for God the garment thou seest Him by " Goethe. 

This is the inner sense of the next word Charanam. 

The Kishkindha and Sundara kandas are object-les- 
sons of the doctrine of Supreme Surrender to the Lord. 
This is the next and the natural step that one should take, 
when he has grasped, through his mind and spirit, by in- 
tense thought and meditation, the mystery of the Absolute, 
the Unmanifested and the Manifested. The next syllable 
Saranam expresses for us the quintessence of this teaching. 

The Yuddhakan da tells us how Vibheeshana, born and 
brought up in the most adverse surroundings, yet, turned 


away from the path of the ungodly, took refuge in the Lord 
and received his reward. The next syllable Prapadye 
lays down the how of it, the actual Process, the practical 
realization of it. 

So far the Poorvakandas of the Ramayana. The 
Uttarakanda gives us the key to the apparent contradic- 
tions in the nature of Ravana, his intense piety, his wide, 
knowledge, his deep erudition and his terrible acts ; the 
ultimate motive of his life is laid bare for us why he 
abducted Seetha. Those that rendered humble service 
to the Lord, those that were labourers in His vine- 
gard Hanuman, Vibheeshana, Jambavan, Sugreeva and his 
monkey hosts and the happy dwellers in the domi- 
nions of Rama, were taken by him even unto where he 
abode in his Worlds of Light, while some of them remained 
on earth, faithfully to discharge the trust placed in them by 
the Lord and work for the regeneration of that great 
orphan Humanity. The other part of the Manthra or the 
Second Truth, voices forth the supreme mystery of Mukthi 
Liberation, Emancipation, Beatitude, Consummation, 
Nirvana, call it what you like. 


What Manthra shall we meditate upon all through 
our life? What is the Word of Power, that will make us Lords 
of Time and Wisdom ? The Gayathri ; and the Ramayana is 
but its exoteric exposition. The Lord Almighty, the Veda 
Purusha, is the Causeless Cause of the Universe. This is the 
basic truth that underlies the Balakanda. His countless 
perfections and excellences form the theme of the Ayodhya 
and the Kishkindhakandas. The divine form, the Robes 
of Splendour in which He manifests himself, is described 
to us in the Aranyakanda, as the ravishing beauty of Rama, 
that attracted unto him the sages, the saints, the ascetics 



and the hermits of the wild woods of Dandaka, men of 
stern self-control and iron discipline. The glory of the 
Lord, in so far as it shines through his Garments of Matter, 
the Universe, is symbolised in the episodes that form the sub- 
ject of the Sun'darakanda, The Beautiful, aptly so named. 

The Yuddhakanda imparts to us the means of reaching 
His Feet. The Uttarakanda takes us to the Goal Mukthi. 
Now, the six parts of the Gayathn mantra set themselves to 
teach the same Truths. 


Shun those that would seek to destroy your faith and 
devotion to the Lord. 

Turn thy heart away trom the atheist, the materialist, 
the ungodly, who would have no god but himself and no 
law but his will. The arguments put into the mouths of 
Jabah (V. R. II. 109) and Lakshmana (V. R. VI. 83.) are 
refuted most effectively and conclusively by Rama. It is 
a warning to all right-thinking men to keep away from the 
teach ings of the Charvakas (Materialists), the Madhyamikas 
(Buddhist Nihilists) and the like. 


Great men are often beset with troubles and difficulties. 
So, we should gradually wean ourselves away from the joys 
and sonows of worldly life and centre ourselves in the 
Eternal. Rama and Lakshmana were bound by the divine 
weapons, the Nagasthra and the Brahmasthra. The Divine 
One had to renounce his kingdom, power, friends and 
relation, and exile himself to the frightful solitudes of 
Dandaka. The wife of his heart was taken away from him 
by force by a Rakshasa. Hence, we are exhorted not to place 
our trust on things transient and vain. Govindara^eeya, 

, The Inner Meaning. II 

Mahavishnu, who is Beness (Sat), Consciousness (Chith), 
and Bliss (Ananda), is the shoreless ocean. The desire that 
sprang in Him to relieve the Earth of her burden of woe 
and misery, is the first wave in the still calm waters 
of it. The Individual Self is the first spray thrown 
out of it. The city of Ayodhya is the Akasa with- 
in the heart. Dasarathha, its ruler, is the pure Anthah- 
karana (Composed of Manas Mind, Buddhi Reason, Chiththa 
Feeling and Ahatnkara Egoism) dominated by the quality 
of Sathva, Harmony. His queen Kausalya is Buddhi Reason 
in its Sathvika aspect. Rama, the son born to them, is the 
Self in its Thnrecya state (beyond Jagrath, waking conscious- 
ness, Swapna, dreaming consciousness and Sushupthi con- 
sciousness in dreamless slumber). Lakshmana is the same 
Self in the Jagrath, Bharatha in the Swapna, and Sathrughna 
in the Sushupthi. These are the various manifestations of 
the Self. Rama followed Visvamithra from Ayodhya to 
guard his sacrificial rite; the Thureeya Athma is attracted by 
the mind. Rama slays Thataka the Rakshasee ; the Self des- 
troys the evil tendencies of the mind. He broke the bow of 
Siva ; the Self curbs the fleeting course of the mind. He 
marries Seetha ; the Self is enveloped in Maya. Rama puts 
down Rama of the Axe ; the Self obtains mastery over the 
Karmic Vasanas (affinities geneiated in previous births). 
He exiles himself to the forests of Dandaka at the word of 
Kaikeyee ; Buddhi in its Thamasic (dark) aspect, leads the 
Self into Samsara (material existence). He kills the monster 
Viradha the rooting out of Pride. Rama, Lakshmana and 
Seetha reside in a lowly cottage at Panchavati ; the Self des- 
cends at last into the house of fiesh, built up of the five ele- 
ments and rests there after his long journey. Soorpanakha 
assails him, and loses her nose and ears ; Desire is deprived 
of its sting. Khara, Dooshana and Thrisiras fall in battle with 


Rama ; Lust, Anger and Greed are destroyed. Mareecha 
lures Rama from his abode, and is laid low ; the Self shakes 
itself off from the trammels of Delusion. He is parted from 
Seetha ; the Self is freed from the bonds of Maya in its pure 
aspect. Havana carries her off ; Egoism overpowers Maya- 
Kabandha, the deformed, falls beneath the sword of Rama ; 
Grief and Sorrow are annihilated. He comes across Hanu- 
man ; the Self has an overflow of pure devotion. He seeks 
the friendship of Sugreeva ; the Self is endowed with 
Right Discrimination, Vali is shot down by him ; the Self 
destroys Ignorance. Later on, he secures the aid and 
alliance of Vibheeshana ; the Self develops its will so 
as to render itself invincible. He causes a bridge to be 
thrown over the wide ocean ; the Self finds a means to 
cross the waves of Nescience. Lanka on the top of Thnkoota, 
is the Linga Deha (the subtle body), characterised by the 
three Gunas (Rhythm, Mobility, and Inertia). Rama slays 
in battle dire Kumbhakarna, Indrajith and Ravana ; the Self 
triumphs over Conceit, Envy and Egoism. Seetha passes 
through fire to vindicate her purity; Maya, rendered 
impure through its association with Egoism, passes 
through the fire of Purification. They leave Lanka 
and travel back to Ayodhya ; from the consiousness in the 
subtle body back to the Akasa m the heart. Rama is 
crowned king over the dominions of his ancestors; the 
Self experiences Supreme Bliss. Sometime after, Seetha 
is sent away to the hermitage of Valmeeki ; the Self parts 
with Maya. He takes her back to himself ; Maya in its 
Sathvika aspect is eternally wedded to the Self. At last, 
Rama descends into the waters of Sarayu ; the 
Akasa in the heart is unified with the Boundless Akasa. 
And this is the realization of the Self as Beness, Conscious- 
ness and Bliss. This is Mukthi, the Consummation 
A. R. Vilasakanda III. 


The Inner Meaning. Ill 

The sea that separated Lanka from the mainland, 100 
Yojanas across, is the shoreless sea of Samsara, charac- 
terised by the consciousness of I and Mine. Lanka is but 
the Upadhi or Vehicle of the Jeevathma. Everything but the 
Supreme Self is dependent upon it like a woman. Nesci- 
ence (Avidya) is the Asoka garden. The pure Buddhic 
aspect of the consciousness of the Jeevathma is Hanuman. 
Kumbhakarna, Ravana and Vibheeshana stand for the 
three Gunas, Sathva (Rhythm), Rajas (Mobility), and 
Thamas (Inertia). Hanuman gives Seetha the ring of 
her Lord as a token , initiates Buddhi the Individual 
Self, in the Tharaka Manthra (the word of liberation). The 
Jeeva must do away with the notion that he is dependent 
upon any other thing but the Lord ; Hanuman sets Lanka 
on fire. The griefs and tribulations of the Jeeva are laid 
before the Lord by the compassionate Buddhi (Pure Rea- 
son) ; Hanuman takes back to Rama the news of Seetha's 
miserable state. Rama crosses over to Lanka in the might 
of his power ; the Jeeva within the Upadhi is blessed with a 
vision of the Lord. The fall of the Rakshasa brothers is 
but the annihilation of the Rajasaand Thamasa Gunas. The 
ministers and followers of Ravana are the modifications of 
the Rajasic and Thamasic Consciousness. Vibheeshana is 
installed as monarch of Lanka ; the pure Sathvicguna is en- 
throned in the Upadhis. Rama causes Seetha to be brought 
unto him ; the Jeeva realises the Higher Consciousness. 
She passes through fire , the Self bathes in the cleansing 
waters of the Viraja and casts off the Karmic affinities latent 
in the Sookshma Sareera. The God of Fire renders back 
Janaki to Rama ; Self puts on its Robes of Light, in which 
it can stand before the Throne. Seetha travels back to Ayo- 
dhya with Rama in the aerial car Pushpaka; the Individual 


Self sits by the right hand of the Lord. Sree Rama 
is enthroned at the capital of the Ikshvakus and Seetha by 
his side ; the Jeevathma becomes one with the Brahman. 
Sugreeva, Angada, and the leaders of the monkey host 
stand for Manas (Mind), Chitta (Feeling), and the other 
Emotions. The monkeys themselves are the mental func- 
tions. Hanuman and his fellows break down the honey- 
grove, the royal preserves of Sugreeva ; the various modifi- 
cations of the Mind are controlled and stilled Rama and his 
forces cross the Ocean of Egoistic conciousncss (Anony- 

The Inner Mcmvug. IV 

The Pranava, the Word, is the Beginning and the End 
of every thing. From its first letter A, arose Lakshmana, 
the Visva; he is the Jeeva in his Sthoola Sareera (Gross body). 
From the second letter U, arose Sathrughna, the Thaijasa ; 
he is the Jeeva in the Sookshm.i Sareera (Subtle body). 
From the third letter M, arose Bharatha, the Pragna , he is 
the Jeeva in the Karana Sareera (the Causal body) The 
Ardhamathta (the prolongation of the sound), is Srce Kama, 
the Supreme Brahman. Seetha is the Moolapiaknthi (Primal 
Matter). Through the force of the presence of Sree Rama, 
she carries on the functions of Evolution, Preservation and 
Involution of the Kosrnos. As Pranava, she is also styled 

Yagnavalkya, the great yogm, approached Athn, the 
mind-born son of Brahma, and saidi u Mahadeva medi- 
tated for countless ages upon the holy name of Sree Rama 
and sought after him with a devout heart. The Lord 
manifested himself unto him and said ' Brother f Ask what 
thou wilt ; and it is thine.' Mahadeva spake unto Sree Rama, 
the Supreme One, ' Lord ! Grant thou this boon, that 
the souls that quit their fleshly vehicles on the 


banks of the Ganga and especially at Manikarnika, so dear to 
me, may be freed for ever from the trammels of 
material existence.' And unto him replied the Lord, 'Brother! 
Those that quit their mortal coil in the spot sanctified by 
thy presence, be they men, be they beasts of the field, 
be they birds of the air, be they the worms that painfully 
crawl on the earth, all without exception, shall verily come 
unto me. And as a visible guarantee of the promise I 
make to you, I do abide for all time in the Holy Kasi. 
Those that meditate upon me and my Name of Power in 
that holy spot, are freed from all their sins, even the dead- 
liest ; and this I do solemnly declare unto you Those that 
receive from thee and from Brahma my Six-lettered Manthra, 
are invested with every power that they may desire ; they 
cross the ocean of Samsara (material existence), and 
come unto me. They in whose right ears thou whisperest 
my Manthra when they depart from this life, do sit by me 
for ever. " 

Yagnavalkya called unto him Bharadwaja, and said, 
"The first letter of the mantra of Rama connotes Sree Rama 
himself, who is Absolute Consciousness, Unbounded Glory 
and Supreme Splendour. The very Gods ever meditate 
upon him to secure Emancipation. He who daily 
recites this holy Manthra is washed pure of all sins. He 
lays in the accumulated merit of countless sacrificial rites ; 
the merit of having recited a hundred thousand times, the 
whole body of the Ithihasas, the Puranas and the Rudra ; 
the merit of reciting the sacred Gayathn a hundred thousand 
times ; and the merit of reciting the Pranava millions 
of times. He exalts ten generations that go before him 
and ten that come after him. He purifies those whom he 
comes across. He is a great soul. He realises Beatitude " 

The following texts from the far-off Past do reveal the 
same Truths. " Many are the manthr^s Associated with such 


Beings are Ganapathi, Mahadeva, Sakthi, Soorya, Vighnu, 
and the like; but the manthra of Sree Rama is their Crown. 
Alone it has power this Six-lettered Manthra to confer 
upon us the highest good and that most easily. There are 
no sins it cannot destroy. Hence, the wise know it as 
1 the Royal Manthra.' As a spark of fire in a mountain of 
cotton, it consumes to nothing all sins, conscious or un- 
conscious, that one may commit during the year, during the 
month, during the fortnight, during the day. The five 
Deadly Sins and the millions of lesser ones vanish before 
the might of this Manthra. Bhoothas, Prethas, Pisachas, 
Koosmandas, Rakshasas and other Beings that inhabit the 
Bhuvarloka (the Middle world), dare not approach where 
the holy Manthra is recited. Happiness here, the delights 
of the world of Gods, and final Emancipation are the meed 
of him who clings to it. The slaughter of animals wild 
and tame ; the sins of our accumulated past lives ; the 
sins of tasting what is forbidden ; the sin of robbing a 
holy Brahmana of his gold or gems ; the sm of slaying 
a Brahmana, a Kshathnya or a Vaisya ; the sm of foul 
incest or adultery ; the sin of associating with the wicked, 
of eating with them, of sleeping with them ; the sin of 
parricide, matricide and regicide ; the sin of wantonly 
defiling our vows and observances ; the sins that we 
consciously commit, waking, sleeping or in dreamless 
slumber ; the sins consciously committed in such holy 
places as Kurukshethra, Kasi, and the like ; the sins that 
countless pilgrimages to the sacred spots of the earth can- 
not wash away ; the sins that the hardest penances and 
the severest mortifications cannot wipe off; the sins that a 
gift of one's own weight in gold cannot condone all these 
and much more does the holy Manthra annihilate. 

Those lands in which Sree Rama is revered, worshipped 
meditated upon, know not famine, plague, pestilence 


or sorrow. It has not its equal. It is the easiest passport 
to the grace of Sree Rama. The Lord grants his devotee 
length of years and happiness here ; and at the end of his 
life, He takes him even unto Himself; yea, even unto Him- 
self " Ramathapim Upamshad. 

The Inner Meaning. V. 

Once upon a time, Sanaka and the other Eternal 
Virgins approached Hanuman and requested to be initiated 
in the mysteries of the holy Rama Manthra. And unto them 
said Hanuman, " Sree Rama is the Supreme Brahman, the 
Supreme Truth, the Path of Emancipation. The Lord 
Mahadeva, and he alone, knows in its entirety the grand 
mystery of the Holy Manthra ; for, it forms the subject of 
his deep meditation ever. The eight-lettered Narayana 
Manthra, and the five-lettered Siva Manthra are the highest 
in their line. But, the most potent letters of either, the 
very heart of them, are drawn out and go to make up the 
Holy Name. The former, devoid of the single letter, means 
' Not towards the securing of the highest heavens,' ; and 
the latter, shorn of its letter of power, means ( Not towards 
the realisation of Absolute Goodness.' Hence, the Rama 
Manthra combines in itself, the essence of all the Manthras 
dedicated to Siva or Vishnu, 

The first letter R is the Germ of Fire ; it denotes the 
Supreme Self, the Sachchidananda, the Self-radiant. The 
same consonant without the vowel, denotes the Brahman 
beyond all limitations. The next letter A stands for 
Maya. The union of the two making Ra, signifies 
the descent of the Self-radiant One into Matter. The next 
letter Ma is the Germ of Eternity, and Immortality and 
denotes Supreme Bliss and Goodness. 

As in a tiny seed of the banyan is contained the wide- 
spreading tree, so in the germ of the Rama Manthra is 

R 36 


contained the whole Universe, animate and inanimate, as the > 
Effect in the Cause. The Supreme Brahman is beyond 
Maya. The letter Ra corresponds to the syllable Thath 
in the Mahavakya (the Great Sentence) ; Ma stands for 
Thwam ; the union between the two is rendered by Asi. 
But, the Mahavakya is capable of conferring only Eman- 
cipation, while the Rama Manthra secures to us Happiness 
here and Emancipation hereafter. Besides, it is not al- 
lowed to all to recite or to meditate upon the Mahavakya ; 
while the Rama Manthra is the common property of all. As 
the expression of Pranava, the aspirant for Emancipation or 
the man of dispassion, or he that has renounced the world 
to work for it, may with profit to meditate upon it. Hence, 
it is higher than the Mahavakya and more practically 
useful. He who grasps and assimilates the manifold 
mysteries embodied in this Sree Rama Manthra, attains 
Emancipation even here. Doubt it not, yea, doubt it not." 

The Inner Meaning. VI. 

From the letter A arose Brahma, known on earth as 
Jambavan. From the letter U arose Upendra, known on 
earth as Sugreeva. From the letter M arose Siva, known 
on earth as Hanuman. From the Bmdu arose the Discus 
of the Lord, known on earth as Sathrughna. From the Nada 
arose the Conch, known on earth as Bharatha. Frojn the Kala 
rose Sesha, known on earth as Lakshmana. The Chit (Con- 
sciousness) beyond it, is Seetha. And beyond all, is the 
Supreme One, Sree Rama. He is Eternal, Pure, Conscious- 
ness, Truth, Immortality, Absolute, Perfect the Supreme 
Brahman Tharasaropanishad. 

Tht Inner Meaning. VII. 

Seetha is Moolapraknthi. The letters forming her name 
connote Maya. Unmamfested by nature, she sometimes 


manifests herself. During the chant of the Holy Writ, she 
is sensed as the Sabda Brahman (the Logos, the Word) ; 
this is her first manifestation. King Janaka found her 
at the point of his plough while he was furrowing the 
sacnficiat ground, and made her his daughter, known on 
earth as Seetha ; this is her second manifestation. Her 
third is the primal Unmamfested form. 

Though she is dependent upon the Lord, yet she sheds 
her light on the universe, through the might of his 
presence. She is the energy that lies behind Evolution, 
Preservation and Involution. Seetha in her eight-fold 
manifestation of power is Moolapraknthi. 

As Pranava is her visible symbol, she is also titled 
Prakrithi Saunakeeya. 

She is Prakrithi ; She is the Vedas ; She is the Divine 
Hierarchy ; She is Fame ; She is the Universe ; She is all ; 
she is the Law; she is the Cause and the Effect. She exists 
apart from Mahavishnu ; and She is identical with him. As 
the animate and the inanimate; as gods, sages, men, Asuras, 
(fallen Angels), Rakshasas (giants), Bhoothas (Elementals) 
Prethas (shades), and Pisachas (Nature spirits), through infi- 
nite modifications of attributes and actions ; as the five 
Elements, the senses, the mind, the Prana (Vital current), 
She underlies all the manifested universe. 

Ichcha Sakthi, Knyasakthi and Sakshath Sakthi (Will, 
Activity and Wisdom) are her prime aspects. 

Ichcha Sakthi is again varied as Sree Devi, Bhoo Devi 
and Neela Devi. 

Sree Devi manifests herself as the energy that lies be, 
hind Goodness, Power, the Moon, the Sun and the Fire. 

Through the Moon she presides force over plants 
and herbs of occult virtues. As the Kalpa tree, as 
flowers ahd fruits, creepers, herbs, medicinal leaves and 
the Waters of Immortality, she nourishes the Gods. 

'Through the Sun she supports the Shining Ones by 
ever increasing the Food ; the cattle, by ever producing 
grass and fodder ; and all beings, by shedding light and life 
upon them. She is Time, from its minutest point to the 
life-period of Brahma seconds, minutes, hours, day, night, 
weeks, fortnights, months, seasons, half-years, years, Yugas, 
manvantaras, kalpas and parardhas. She turns the Wheel 
of Time. 

Through the Fire she makes herselt felt as hunger and 
thirst in all Beings , she is the face of the Gods into which 
are thrown the sacrificial offerings to them. She is heat and 
cold in the plants and the trees of the forest ; she is the 
fire latent in the wood and transitory on its surface. Thus, 
Sree Devi works out the Lord's will and comes forth as 
Sree and Lakshmi to sustain the universe. 

Bhoo Devi is the stay and the support of the fourteen 
spheres, including the seven islands and the seven oceans 
around them. She is the Pranava, the symbol visible of 
the Invisible Presence. 

Ncela Devi is visible in the thousand and one forces 
that go to sustain all beings, animate and inanimate the 
wind, the air, the fire, the water and the like. She is the 
Great Waters upon which all worlds rest. She is the Frog, 
one of her mystic symbols. 

From the mouth of Mahavishnu arises Nada (Sound). 
From Nada arises Bindu (the Point). Fromj Bindu 
comes forth the Pranava. From the Pranava springs forth 
the Tree of Knowledge (the Vedas), with its branches of 
Action and Wisdom. 

Brahman, whose nature they illuminate, is Kriya 

Sakshath Sakthi (the Direct Ewrgy) of the Lord 

is inseparate from him. It lies behind Evolution, 


Preservation, Disintegration and Involution, and the 
other world-processes. It brings about the infinite 
variety of Form. It is the Differentiated and the Undiffer- 
entiated. It is Self-radiance. It is the Power that showers 
good. It is the inexhorable Law that rights Wrong. It is 
the spiritual splendour of men, of sages and of Gods. It 
is the heart of Serenity, 

The dark mole on the left breast of Mahavishnu, known 
as Sree Vathsa, symbolises the Ichcha Sakthi as it rests in 
Him during Pralaya (Involution). It is also known as Yoga 
Sakthi (spiritual powers). The Kalpa tree, the Cow of 
Plenty, Chinthamam, Sankha, Padma and the other 
treasures of the Lord of Wealth, nine in number, are the 
visible results of Bhoga Sakthi (psychic powers). This 
is extremely useful to those that seek the Lord interestedly 
or out of unalloyed devotion ; and also to those that render 
service unto him in the shape of raising temples and en- 
shrining his images therein, so that the devout might 
meditate upon him through the eight-fold path of Yoga. 

Veera Sakthi, the Goddess of Valour, is described thus. 
Under the spreading fragrance of the Kalpaka tree shines the 
gem-encrusted throne. The Lotus spreads its graceful petals 
over it ; and on it sits enthroned the four-armed Goddess of 
Valour. On all sides stand elephants, bathing her with 
the Waters of Immortality from the gemmed vessels in 
their tusks. The eight Yoga-Siddhis (occult powers), 
Amma t and the rest, are ranged on either side of her. 
Jaya and her sister Apsarasas wait upon her. The Sun 
and the Moon illuminate the Hall of Audience. The full 
moon, the new moon and the half moon hold snow-white 
umbrellas over her head. Hladini and Maya fan her with 
chamaras (chowries). Swaha, that nourishes the Gods, 
and Swadha, that feeds the Fathers, wave fans on either 
side. In front of her stand the Gods, the Vedas and 


the Sciences. And from her seat of power She rules the 
the universe. Seethopantshad. 

The Inner meaning. VIII. 

The Gayathri Manthra is the seed of the Tree of Rama- 
yana; the Rama Raksha is the sprout ; the Vedas are the 
roots ; and Emancipation is the fruit of it. 

Gayathri, the mother of the Vedas, is the root of all. 
It has three Padas (feet). They that strive after Liberation 
should meditate upon the Germ, from which the Tree of 
the Universe sprang, as the material cause of the universe 
in his Matter aspect, and as the instrumental cause of the 
same in his Brahman aspect. This is, in brief, the Truth 
that underlies the first foot. The universe, as the effect, is 
superimposed by Nescience upon the Supreme Self ; He 
is the Cause. Hence, we are asked to banish His matter 
aspect and try to realise His ultimate Brahman aspect 

The Vedic text " The Golden Person who is visible 
in the heart of the Solar Orb/' denotes the Primal Being, 
Narayana. We should meditate upon the Supreme Self in 
this aspect of Unbounded Light ; this is His Mayaviroopa 
(Form of Illusion). " I meditate upon the Ineffable Glory 
whom men know as Rama and Krishna ; who came down 
on Earth, time and oft, for the uplifting of the world." This 
is what the second foot conveys to us. This is his second 
manifestation, in which man might more easily meditate 
upon him. This is the Means to reach the Brahman, whom 
the first Foot sets out to describe. 

" He that directs and controls our Self and its ener- 
gies" is what the third foot teaches. He can, out of his 
grace, curb the fleeting mind and turn it inward towards his 
feet. This the epitome of the Path of Action, longer and 
more tortuous. ... 


The three feet of the Gayathri Manthra are the germs out 
of which springs the Tree of Knowledge with its branches 
of Wisdom, Meditation and Action. Maithrayana Sruthi 


The syllables of the Ramaraksha express the same 
truths as the Gayathn Manthra; and in them are condensed 
the incidents of the Ramayana. 

1. May Raghava protect my head. He who presides 
over the universe, He who presides over the Annamayakosa 
(Food-Sheath ), may He protect my head that symbolises 
the universe. 

2. May ihe so;/ of Dasaratha protect my forehead, The 
Pranamayakosa (Prana-Sheath) is drawn by ten horses 
(organs of sense and action) and is the effect of the 
Manomayakosa (Mind- Sheath). May he, who presides over 
it, protect my forehead,' the tablet upon which writes my 
destiny Brahma, who was evolved after the universe. 
(The Self, as manifested in each of the above sheaths, has 
a wider consciousness and powers than in the preceding 

3. May the son of Kausalya protect my eyes. He who 
presides in theVignanamayakosa (Intution-Sheath)is endow- 
ed with the faculty of cognising all impressions. May he 
protect my eyes, the channel of all knowledge and wisdom. 

4. May he ivho is dear to Visvamithra protect my ears. 
The Self as manifested in the Anandamayakosa (Bliss 
Sheath) is filled with infinite compassion towards the 
universe innate, unselfish and disinterested. It is he that 
in the state of Sushupthi does away with all grief and 
sorrow. He is the embodiment of Bliss and Consciousness. 
May he protect my ears through which I reach him. 

[The first three Manthras superimpose the universe up- 
on Sree Rama, the Parabrahman and the next three help to 


remove the illusion. Thus far the nature of the Supreme 
Brahman, the Absolute, that forms the subject of the first 
foot of the Gayathri]. 

5. May he who protected the sacrifice of Visvamithra 
guard my nose. The delights of the heavenly world form 
the reward of sacrifices. May he, that brings about the result 
of sacrifices, protect my organs of smell and taste, where- 
with divine fragrance and taste are experienced. 

6. My he whose heart goes out to the sou of Sumithra 
protect mv face. The Lord's heart goes out towards Hiran- 
yagarbha, that evolved from Himself and is the best friend of 
the Jeeva. Those that attain Emancipation in the ordinary 
way reach the world of Brahma ; there they are initiated 
into the mysteries of the Absolute; and when Brahma goes 
back to the Lord, they go along with him, 

7. May he who is the fountain o] all knowledge protect 
my organ of speech. Knowledge is the only means of reach- 
ing him. May he protect my organ of speech through 
which I acquire knowledge. 

8. May he whom Bharatha reverences perfect my neck. 
Those that follow the Path of Action worship him with 
sacrificial rites, " The Brahmanas seek to know It by 
sacrifices" Srutlu. Manthras, Sthotliras andSasthras form 
the component parts of sacrificial rites. They should ever 
find a place in the throat, the channel through which they 
pass from the heart. Hence, the prayer to protect that 
portion of the body. The Jeeva lays by much merit by 
such holy acts as sacrifices ; that directs him to the Path 
of Meditation ; whereby reaches the Soothrathma (He on 
whom the worlds are strung). 

9. May be who wields the Divine Weapons protect my 
shoulders. In his divine incarnation, the Bow, the Sword 
and the other weapons, symbolising Power, Time and 


the Ijke attributes, graced his arms. May he protect the 
corresponding portions of my body. 

10. May he who broke the Bow of Siva protect my arms. 
When he walked on earth as a man among men, with 
the might of his arms he broke the bow of Siva that was no 
other than the mount Meru (the Axis of the world). Plain- 
ly, this places him above Siva. " When Mahadeva went 
against the Asuras of the Three Cities, the Earth was his 
car, Brahma his driver, mount Meru his bow, and Maha- 
vishnu the point of his arrow. " Sruthi. 

11. May the Lord ofSeetha protect my hands. These two 
Manthras show us that Bala, one of the two Vidyas (occult 
sciences) imparted to him by Visvamithra, gave him unlimi- 
ted physical strength. 

12. May he who put down Parasurama protect 
my heart Parasurama stored in himself the spiritual 
splendour of the Brahmana and of the Lord Vishnu. 
Rama put him down and destroyed the worlds won by his 
Thapas. This evidences what a mighty heart he had. 
Here is manifest the power of Athibala, the other Vidya, 
in that Rama was able to accomplish superhuman acts at 
once. (Manthras 9, 10, 11, and 12 teach that the third 
manifestation of the Lord is higher than Brahma, Vishnu 
and Siva). 

13. May he who slew Khara protect my trunk. Khara 
and the other Rakshasas constantly meditated upon the 
Lord, though as their mortal enemy ; hence, they stand 
higher than many who have never bestowed a thought upon 
him. The Lord fails not to reward each as he deserves. 
He slew Khara and his Rakshasas ; and that was a blessing 
in disguise gave them a place in his world. 

14. May he, upon whom Jambavan leant as his stay 
and support, protect my navel. Jambavan sought the feet of 
the Lord to save himself from his dire distress ; his 

R se 


was one of love, and not of enmity. Hence, he stands on 
a higher level than Khara. 

15. May the Lord of Sugreeva protect my loins. * One 
good turn deserves another'. Sugreeva's relations with 
Rama savoured more of barter than of genuine disinteres- 
ted friendship. Rama served his ends first ; and Sugreeva 
and his monkey hosts were of use to Rama long after. 
Hence, he does not come up to Jambavan's altitude. 

16. May Hanumaris master protect my thighs. 
Hanuman's devotion to Rama was unselfish to the ex- 
treme ; humble service to his master and to the best of his 
might, was the only thing he prayed for. He stood nearest 
to the Lord's heart. As his favourite child, he sat upon his 
lap. He is the ideal Bhaktha (devotee). [The last four 
Manthras depict the four types of those that seek the Lord 
during his divine incarnations], 

17. May he, who threw the bridge over the sea, protect 
my knees. The Lord is the shores of the ocean of Samsara 
(material existence), in that he keeps back its rolling waves 
and is the haven of those who toil in it. May he guard 
my knees that form, as it were, the feet of children when 
they crawl about. (This teaches us that the Lord is be- 
yond the material vehicles. He who meditates upon him 
thus, is freed for ever from his vehicles). 

18. May he who destroyed the ten-headed Ravana 
guard my ankles. The Lord is beyond the Sookshmasareera 
that works through the ten organs of sense and action. To 
the grown-up child the ankles form the chief help in 
locomotion; may He guard them. (He who thus meditates 
upon the lord is freed for ever from the Sookshmasareera 
and rests in the bosom of Praknthi). 

19. May he who conferred all good and prosperity 
upon Vibheeshana protect my feet. He opens the gates 
of Joy to him who escapes the jaws of Avidya 


(Nesgience). May He guard my feet, the instruments of 
rapid locomotion. "This is the highest good. This 
is the highest wealth " Srutht. (This is the state of 
Emancipation, wherein all evil is annihilated and where 
supreme bliss is experienced). 

20. May Rama protect all my body. The Lord, as the 
Almighty Ruler, is the monarch that shines on his Throne 
of Glory in the Audience Hall of the Universe. I earnestly 
seek to stand in his presence. May he purify my three 
vehicles. May he remove all obstacles and dangers on the 
eight-fold Path. May he, out of his grace, qualify me to find 
a place among the Elect. 

The expression, 'Raghava,' in the first Manthra, symbo- 
lises the Universe as superimposed by Ignorance upon 
Brahman. The later Manthras remove this misconception. 
His collective and individual form is then described for 
purpose of meditation and Manthras 13,18 lay down the 
process ; while Manthras 19 and 20 describe the destruc- 
tion of evil and the realization of supreme bliss. 

Hence, the Gayathn forms the germ of the Ramayana. 
Its 24 letters begin the 24,000 stanzas of the poem. 

The Vedas form the basis of the Ramayana. 
Valmeeki's epic is but an amplification of the Truths 
taught in the Vedas ; and like the Vedas, it blesseth him 
that reads and him that listens to it. " The Supreme One 
whom the Vedas try to reach, came down on earth as Sree 
Rama, the son of Dasaratha ; so, the Vedas came down to 
where he was, as Ramayana, the child of Valmeeki's heart. 
So, my beloved, Ramayana is the Veda ; doubt it not, 
Parvathi." Agasthya SamJntha. 

"Valmeeki, the sage, chose the two royal youths Kusa anc| 
Lava out of many ; they were endowed with considerable 


intelligence, had studied the Vedas, and their mysteries ; 
Ramayana, the record of Seetha's life, their mother, could 
not have a fitter exponent'' V. R. I. 4. 

So, the Ramayana and the Vedic passages which it 
amplifies have a double aspect. The exoteric narrates the 
incidents in the life of Rama and Seetha. The esoteric 
unfolds the mystery of the Self. Let the mtutive student 
ponder over it. The Vedic Manthras are the deep pool, full 
to the brim with the Waters of Immortality. They flow 
through the channels of episodes on to the broad fields of 
Vidya, the Science of Self ; they that walk along the Path of 
Action, also drink of it by the way. 

Now, let us take, for example, the following 
Manthra, to be recited in that sacrificial rite where 
the two Aswins are invoked. " As a dead man leaves 
behind him the wealth he accumulated in his life, King 
Thugra cast his son into the roaring deep. But, you 
were there, Aswins ! ; and with numerous boats saved 
him and his troops." This is how the man of action would 
like to have it interpreted, "All the Gods and all the hymns 
of the Rigveda are in Him, the Supreme Self, who shines 
by his own light and who ever remains. He, who cannot 
pierce to him through these garments of sound, has very little 
to do with them, even in their exoteric dead letter aspect." 
The above vedic text affirms that the Manthras do but seek 
to lift somewhat of the veil that is thrown over the Name- 
less, whose manifestations come down to us as the presiding 
deities of the senses. He that has no eye for the deeper 
meaning has no call to study the Holy Writ. Hence, it is 
but just that the above Manthra should have an inner mean- 
ing. " The Self, on whom bear the burden of the past, is 
thrown into the ocean of Samsara (embodied existence) by 
the Personality that clings to material objects. Inner 
Ruler ! Soothrathman (Thread-Soul) ! You extend your 


grace unto it ; and in the guise of the Teacher save 
it through the Great Sentences (Mahavakyas), that sail 
through the Akasa in the heart and dispel the clouds 
of Ignorance. 

Q. It seems that the Aswinee Devas are praised in 
the above Manthra. Transitoiy objects are spoken of 
and as such, give no colour to the view, that the Vedas in 
which they are found are not composed by man. 

A. Grain and the other cereals are regarded as 
eternal, not individually but in the type ; so, every Kalpa 
(life-period of Brahma), sees the divine incarnation of 
Rama; and as a type symbolising a kosmic event, it is eter- 
nal ; the Devathadhikarana takes this view of it. 
The Chamasadhikarana holds that such Manthras, though 
narrating past episodes, do really aim at teaching 
the Science of Brahman. Take the Manthra "Aja who 
is red, white, and black " ; here, if we give the 
words their natural meaning, the passage simply expresses 
facts of previous knowledge and forms no evidence of 
superphysical truths. Hence, the Teachers understand that 
Aja denotes Praknthi (differentiated matter) to whom 
are given such names as Splendour, the Waters and 
Food. Similar instances would naturally suggest them- 
selves, of Manthras with an esoteric narrative aspect and an 
esoteric spiritual one underlying. 

The Vedic text "All names do but point to him. All 
Vedas do but describe the Supreme State " makes it plain 
that Sree Ramachandra is the subject ot all knowledge, 
Vedic or otherwise. Indra and like expressions are but 
His names ; in fact, all words do but express His infinite 
qualities. But, the passages yield a narrative meaning too, 
as suited to the context. 

Q. How can we understand expressions that denote 


other gods as pointing to Rama ? If the aforesaid interpreta- 
tion is made to serve our purpose, the words have no mean- 
ing of their own. 

A. The various lines or dots that stand for the 
numerals 1, 2, .'5, 4, are similar in form ; but, a difference 
of place makes them denote a unit or tens or hundreds or 
or thousands. Similarly, a word or a sentence can, by 
association with others or by difference of context, 
yield many meanings. The word Amntha denotes natur- 
ally the Waters of Immortality obtained during the churn- 
ing of the ocean. But, in the following Vedic texts 
* When this mortal man has his mind washed pure 
of all desire, even the least, then he becomes Amntha ; 
he attains Brahman even here ; " " May we drink 
of Soma ; May we become Amntha ; " " That is man's 
Amntha; That is yours." It stands for Emancipation, 
Godship, and offspring respectively. Or, take the text, 
" The Devas worship Yagna with Yagna ." Here, 
Yagna, the object of worship is the Supreme One ; the 
Jeeva is to be viewed by us as the Supreme Brahman. But, 
in the passage " They sprinkle the Yagna," it means Indra, 
Agni and the other Devas. Again, the word denotes the 
sacrificial fire when it occurs in a passage about the churn- 
ing of the fire. The Adhyathmika, the Adhi-Daivika and the 
Adhi-Bhouthika meanings stand in the relative order of their 
importance. The word Indra means literally "One who is 
endowed with superhuman powers " Usage too lends its 
support to this interpretation. But, the passage that 
treats of the replacing of the Garhapathya fire uses the 
very same expression to denote the Garhapathya fire. 
Again, the expression Akasa can but denote naturally the 
material Akasa ; but in the passage " Whatever is seen 
springs from the Akasa" it denotes the Supreme One; the 
natural meaning is subservient to the conventional. So, we 


conclude that narratives do often yield a spiritual meaning, 
and expressions denoting other deities do really stand for 
the Supreme Soul. 

Q. There is a show of justice in interpreting such 
Manthras as do not lay down rules of sacrifice, to mean the 
Supreme Self, that they may not st nd useless. But, what of 
the other Manthras that are connected with sacrificial rites? 
Do you contend that they too point to Rama ? 

A. Even so. Since the entire Vedas are devoted to that 
purpose alone, we have no right to except any portion of it. 

p. It is not reasonable to give such an interpretation 
to Manthras that are not found in sections treating of the 
Science of Self. Then, the passages about chopping off the 
branches of trees must also be interpreted to denote the 
Supreme Self. Then, the Karmakanda loses its value in the 
eyes of those who tread the Path of Action. 

A. Not so. The same fact is understood variously by 
various grades of intelligence. A rope lying on the road is 
taken for a serpent by one, for a stick by another and for a 
rope by a third. Brahma gave out that " The person who is 
seen in the eye is the Athman, is Fearlessness, is Brahman/' 
Now, Virochana, one of his auditors, understood it that the 
embodied self was characterised by immortality and the 
other attributes; but, Indra, another of them, took it that the 
Self transcending the vehicles was meant. Difference of 
intelligence sometimes accounts for difference of inter- 
pretations. Now, we read in the Maha Bharatha that Indra 
slew Vnthram the body with the invisible weapon Vajra 
(Aswamedha Parva). " When the universe was enveloped in 
ignorance, the Jeeva dispelled it by Divine Knowledge that 
transcends the senses " this is how the most advanced 
will interpret it, The Vedic text describing the Wheel of 
is interpreted ^s follows, to suit the intellects of a low 


order. The women mentioned there stand for the deities 
Dhatha and Vidhatha ; the black and white threads mean 
day and night ; the fortnight, the month, the seasons, 
and the year are similarly interpreted. Now, the more 
advanced would see that the six seasons stand for the six 
senses. Each of these is made up of two months ; each 
sense has Desire and Aversion as its poles. A month is 
made up of two fortnights ; Desire and Aversion have a 
double aspect, according as they are directed in the direc- 
tion of Dharma (the Law) or against it. Each fortnight is 
made up of fifteen days through the movements of the Sun 
and the Moon. The sun is the Self ; the moon is Manas with 
her sixteen rays (Prana, Sraddha, Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Water, 
Earth, Senses, Mind, Food, Energy, Thapas, Manthra, Kar- 
ma, Worlds and Name). During sleep, the mind withdraws 
into itself all the rays except the last, and is absorbed in the 
Self. It is Avidya (Nescience), whose very nature is abso- 
lute Thamas (Inertia). The New-moon day, on which the sun 
and the moon are in conjunction, symbolises this truth. 
Later on, the rays emerge from the Self, one after another, 
through the agency of Viveka (Discrimination) ; this is the 
waxing of the Moon of Wisdom. The Self and the mind 
are opposite to one another, when wisdom has dawned 
the full moon typifies the disjunction of the sun and the 
moon. This is the Wheel of Time, the result of Action. 
Thus, the Manthras yield a spiritual meaning to the wise, 
and but the traditional one to the less advanced. 

Q. If such an interpretation is the right one, how is 
it that Sayana and the other commentators on the Vedas 
have never revealed it ? Further, the incidents of the 
Ramayana are nowhere mentioned in the Vedic texts, like 
the episode of the death of Vnthra. It is hard to believe that 
the Ramayana is based upon the Vedas, and that all 
Manthras have a spiritual significance, 


t A. But, it is even so. The Vedic commentators set them- 
selves to interpret the texts that bear upon the Path of Action 
and that sing forth the praises of the gods, in such a way 
as to draw the hearts of the less advanced to Action, fully 
aware that in course of time it will lead them on to Wisdom. 
The deeper meaning is not called for, and finds no place. 
Now, it is simply unreasonable to declare that the Ramayana 
incidents find no mention in the Vedas. If a blind man 
knocks himself against a post, is it the fault of the latter ? 
If you care not to delve deep into the hidden mines of 
Vedic lore, how is Ramayana to blame for it ? It is not 
in vain that the Maha Bharatha exclaims, ' The Ithihasas 
and the Puranas amplify the Vedas ; they reveal the inner 
mysteries thereof. The Vedas shun the man of little wis- 
dom, and cry out 'Lo ! this one may more likely mis- 
represent me. ' " A room and its furniture are reflected 
in each mirror in it ; even so, the Universe with all its 
ruling Powers are reflected in each God. Everyone of 
them forms the cause of the world ; every one of them is 
the effect of the others. Worship of them is worship of 
Rama. The Vedic commentator interprets the texts to 
suit the purposes desired. But, it does not prevent us 
from reading into them the episodes of the Ramayana, by 
the force of context and by other traditional methods. 
We cannot accept the exoteric interpretations as ulti- 
mate, since they but plunge one deeper into the mire of 
Ignorance. So, we can well conclude that the Manthras 
bear only the traditional meaning to the uninitiated, while 
the initiated see in them a direct reference to Sree Rama 
and the mysteries connected with him. 

Q. The Manthras found in connexion with religious 
acts do but mention the Gods, the materials, the method, 
the objects, and the results. How then, can you twist them 
to yield an interpretation in support of the Ramayana ? 


A. The Manthras are even so ; but, in addition, ^they 
are invariably based upon spiritual truths. Let us take the 
Manthra "You entered the great trees in the form of 
Krishna. Hence, I gather you in two ways. " Now, this 
reveals the fact that the Brahman evolved the Universe 
and pervaded it ; and the sacrificial fuel is to be regarded 
as one of Its manifestations. This episode we find in the 
Brahmanas and is but repeated in the above text. "You, as 
Krishna the Supreme Brahman, evolve the universe, animate 
and inanimate ; and later on, pervade it through and 
through. You are one with it ; hence, you are even this 
sacrificial fuel. I now gather you thrice seven times." 
Again the Manthra " We gather the earth thrown 
up by him, who dived into the Waters after this 
Earth, that lay hidden therein." The incarnation of the 
Lord as the Boar is referred to , the Earth that he 
dug up is very sacred and should be gathered by us. 
Again the Manthra " For the essence of Food and Stren- 
gth," is used when we chop the branches of trees. The 
Initiate understand it to mean " Lord of the universe ! you 
shine forth even in this branch you have made. I 
chop you off to attain supreme bliss and the level of Virat 
Brahman as pervading the universe ; and I have attained 
to you/' Texts that relate to inanimate objects should be 
similarly interpreted; for, food symbolises Viratj and the 
Essence of food denotes the Supreme One. ("Verily he is the 
Rasa, the Essence; having attained that essence, one enjoys 
bliss." Sruthi). Besides, such vedic texts as " All this is 
Purusha;" "All this is the form of Brahman;" 'That state 
which is hinted at by all the Vedas;" "That whom all these 
attain;" "The hymns of the Rigveda in the splendour of 
the changeless " are our authorities for so interpreting 
the Vedas. And this is possible only in the case of a care- 
ful student of th$ Ithihasas and the Puranas, who has 


mastered their inner meaning; while the less advanced 
sees no other meaning than the praise accorded to the gather- 
ing of the material earth and the sacrificial fuel. He who 
worships the physical Boar is not very spiritual nor bright; 
but, he who sees Sree Krishna through the veil and tries 
to reach him is the Initiate. However, the Vedic com- 
mentator has given an exoteric interpretation to the pas- 
sage as referring to the physical food and its essence ; that 
is meant to attract those whose temperament fits them for 
the Path of Action. But, nothing prevents the Initiate 
from understanding it according to his own light. 

Q. We should explain the Manthras in conso- 
nance with the religious rites in which they are to be used. 
But, if that meaning does not ht in with the particular act, 
is it not better to abandon it ? 

A. No. The Manthra " Mahavishnu crossed the 
three worlds in three paces" is used in the silent recitation 
laid down as a penance for breaking the vow of silence, 
as also in the oblation of ghee as a general penance. The 
greatness of the Lord is the only meaning we can see 
here ; but, nothing authorises us to interpret it in conso- 
nance with the subject in hand. He who does not ac- 
quaint himself with the Boar and the Dwarf incarnations of 
Vishnu cannot explain the texts solely by their context and 
use. Since the Vedic commentaries aim only at attracting 
to the Path ot Action men whose temperament lies that 
way, we cannot expect the episodes of the Ramayana 
to find a place therein But, there is not the least shadow 
of doubt that the epic of Valmeeki is based upon the Vedas, 
since it but amplifies the truths taught in them. Men 
of little knowledge may find it difficult to pierce 
through the veil , but to the Open Eye of the Initiate it is 
transparent The Ramayana and its original, the hymns 
of the Rigveda, narrate the incidents in the life of Sree 

Rama ; but, there runs an under-current of spiritual mean- 
ing all through. Each Manthra should be explained in 
relation to the sacrificial rite, to the incidents in the Rama- 
yana and to the Science of Self. ( Manthra Ramayana). 

XI L How to read the Ramayana ? 

There is current a quaint saying of the wise. " You 
cannot spend the day better than by studying the records 
of the gamblers in the forenoon; the stories of women and 
their doings form a fit theme to while away the afternoon ; 
and the early hours of the night form a lovely background 
to the adventures of the thief," Now, no one takes the 
above literally ; but, understands it to mean that the Bhara- 
tha, that narrates the gambling of the eldest of the Panda- 
vas and the evils that resulted therefrom, should occupy 
the forenoon. The Ramayana of Valmeeki, whose theme is 
Seetha, the ideal woman, and her sorrows, is to be recited 
and listened to when the day draws to a close ; while, the 
Bhagavatha, that records in symbols the incarnation of 
the Supreme Purusha, Sree Krishna, the thief who steals 
away our hearts and his work among men is the best 
prelude one could desire to a peaceful and calm dream- 

Valmeeki has enjoined the royal youths, Kusa and 
Lava, to recite just twenty chapters a day, neither more 
nor less. (V. R. VII. 93). It gives extreme pleasure to 
the Fathers to hear it recited, when the anniversary rites are 
performed in their name. Gifts of cloths cattle and gold 
should be made to him that reads it (Ib. id. III). The 
Coming of the Lord, the marriage of Seetha, the Installa- 
tion of the Sandals, the coronation of Sugreeva, the Surren- 
der of Vibheeshana and the coronation of Sree Rama are 
fitting occasions when the reciter and the expounder 
should be honored with liberal gifts. 


XIIL How does it benifit us ? 

"This record of Rama's life punfieb the heart of men, 
destroys their sins, and confers supreme merit. Hence the 
wise hold it in equal reverence with the Holy Writ ; and he 
who reads it with a devout heart, is freed from sin of every 
kind. A long and happy life is his portion in the world of 
men ; and when he goes away from it, he is a welcome 
guest in the world of Gods and is held in high honour 
among them, yea, his kith and km. 

Should 3 Brahmana read it, gift of speech is his 
meed, and wisdom equalled by none. Should one of the 
warrior race read it, the wide Earth and all it contains 
owns his sway. Should a Vaisya read it, merchant princes 
pay homage to him , nay, should a Soodra happen to hear it 
read, he shall win honor and glory among his kind. " 

Later on, we find (76. id, 2) that Brahma conferred 
upon Valmeeki the Open Eye of the Seer and said, " Nothing 
that relates to any of the actors in that great world-drama 
shall escape thy all-seeing eye Rama, Lakshmana, Seetha, 
men and monkeys, Gods and Rakshasas, their acts, their 
words, nay, their very thoughts, known or secret. Nothing 
that comes out of your mouth, consciously or otherwise, 
shall prove other than true. Sing you a poem that shall 
charm away the hearts of men, perfect in its rhythm and 
melodious in its flow. The cloud-cappe.l mountains, the 
swift-coursing rivers, and all created things shall pass away 
and be has naught But, your noble song shall outlive 
them and never fade from the hearts of men And as long 
as the record of Rama's life holds sway over the hearts of 
men, so long shall you sit by me in my highest heaven. " 

U A rare and noble epic this, the Ramayana of 
honeyed verses and faultless diction, beautifully adapted 


to music, vocal or instrumental and charming to hear ; 
begun and finished according to the best canons of the art, 
the most exacting critic cannot praise it too highly; the first 
of its kind and an unapproachable ideal for all tune to come ; 
the best model for all future poets ; the thrice-distilled 
essence of the Holy Scriptures ; the surest giver of health 
and happiness, length of years and prosperity, to ail who 
read or listen to it." (Ib. id. 4.) 

11 Tins epic confers on kings long life, fame, victory and 
every other blessing desired. Do you desire offspring from 
your loins? You fail not to get it. Is wealth your object ? 
You have it as much as you wish. The king triumphs over 
his enemies and rules the lord of the Earth. The woman 
that listen to this holy narrative with a heart full of devotion^ 
rejoices m her length of days and wealth of children and 
grand-children, even to the seventh remove, like unto the 
queens ot Dasaratha, who saw the Lord himself come down 
unto the earth as children of their loins and rejoiced in 
everything that this world can give and the next. Anger 
and her sister passions find not a place in the heart of 
him who listens to the words of Valmeeki. He puts away 
all misery behind him for ever. The wanderer in strange 
lands is restored to the bosom of those that love him. Sree 
Rama is ever ready to gratify his requests. The Shining Ones 
are delighted beyond measure. The evil Powers that may 
infest his house become his very inends and benefactors. 
Young women do bring forth excellent sons to gladden 
their hearts. Those ot the royal race that listen to it with a 
devout heart from some good Brahmana, are ever blessed 
with wealth unbounded and offspring numerous. In short, 
an evergrowing circle of kinsmen, abundance of wealth and 
corn, faithful and devoted wives, perfect health, long life, 
fame and upright heart, spiritual splendour, good brothers 
and every thing that the human heart can wish for all this 


and much more form the meed of him who studies, with a 
pure heart and devout, the noble epic of Valmeeki,* (/&. 
VI. 131). 

' The sages that frequent the world of Brahma re- 
quested permission of him to go back to the audience-hall 
of Rama and listen to the remaining chapters of the 
Ramayana." (Ib. VII, 98). 

" The Omnipresent Lord and his glory form the sub- 
ject of the Ramayana. Hence, the Gods, the Gandharvas, 
the Siddhas and the Sages ever listen to it with hearts over- 
flowing with joy. A single chapter of the poem confers 
the merit accumulated by thousands of Aswamedhas, 
Vajapeyas and other holy sacrifices. Pilgrimages to 
Prayaga, Naimisa, Kurushethra and other holy spots, Ganga 
and the other sacred rivers all the merit accumulated 
thereby is his, who listens whole-hearted to the recital 
of the Ramayana. The gift of untold wealth to deserving 
Brahmanas at Kurushethra during sacrifices confers no 
greater merit. The Divine Hero fails not to lift his devotee 
even unto his world , nay, he becomes one with the 
Lord." ( 111). 

XIV. Other Ramayanas 

We have reason to believe that the life of Rama was 
sung by many others besides Valmeeki, even during the life 
time of the Divine One. "Chyavana, the sage, sang the Life 
of Rama. But, Valmeeki, who came after him, obtained im- 
mortal fame" (Aswaghosha's Buddha Charithra VII. 48.) 
The Ramayanas of Bodhayana, Bharadwaja and many other 
Rishis are not now extant. 

Ananda Ramayana 

The Lord Mahadeva narrated the life of Rama unto 
his beloved, Parvathi. It forms a portion of the Original 
in 100 crones of stajizas. Jt is divided into 9 


cantos of 109 chapters and 12,252 stanzas. The Sarakanda 
goes over the same ground as the Ramayana of Valmeeki. 
The Yathrakanda gives an account of the pilgrimage under- 
taken by Rama. The Yagakanda describes the horse 
sacrifice conducted by Rama, as also his 108 sacred names. 

The Vilasakanda depicts Rama's government, the 
prayer known as Ramasthavaraja and the Deha Ramayana 
(the inner meaning of it). The Janmakanda tells us about 
the putting away of Seetha, the birth of Kusa and Lava, 
their fight with the army of Rama and the coming 
back of Seetha to her lord ; as also the Ramaraksha. 
The Vivahakanda is an account of the marriages of the 
scions of the house of Ikshvakhu. The Rajyakanda 
recounts the 1000 holy names of Rama, the bringing 
down of the trees from the heaven of Indra, the destruc- 
tion of the Asura Moolaka, the conquest of the 
seven Dweepas and the past births of Valmeeki. The 
Manoharakanda contains the Laghu Ramayana (the Sum- 
mary given to Valmeeki by Narada) and the Kavachas (protec- 
tive manthras) of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha, Sathrughna, 
Seetha and Hanuman. The Poornakanda relates the genea- 
logy of the Lunar Race, the battle between the kings of the 
Soorya and Chandravamsas and the Passing of Rama. 

Adhyathma Ramayana 

It is generally held that this forms a part of the Brah- 
manda Purana and the printed editions confirm it. But, 
internal evidence shows that it was related by Visvamithra. 
Bhavishya Purana (III, 19) tells us that " The Lord Sanka- 
ra, having thus gratified the wishes of Ramananda, vanished 
from the place. Later on, the holy man sought out Sree 
Krishna Chaitanya and served him faithfully for twelve 
years, subsisting solely upon milk. The Master enjoined 
him to compose the work known later on as the Adhyathma 


Ramayana". Hence, neither Valmeeki nor Vyasa can be 
claimed to be its author. 

As usual, Mahadeva recounts it to Parvathi. The inci- 
dents of the life of Rama are described at length, with many l 
ethical and spiritual episodes illuminating the exoteric 

Adbhutha Ramayana 

Valmeeki narrates it to his disciple Bharadwaja. It is 
in 27 chapters and forms a portion of the Original Rama- 
yana. The greatness of Seetha, the events that brought 
about the human incarnations of Rama and Seetha, and the 
episode of the thousand-headed Ravana are described at 
great length. 

Agnivesya Ramayana 

I have come across only some stanzas giving the 
chronology of the incidents of the Ramayana. 

Sangraha Ramayana 

A modern work by Narayana Panditha, a follower of 
Sree Madhwacharya. 

Yogavasishtha Ramayana 

Valmeeki narrates to Bharadwaja what took place in 
the audience-hall of King Dasaratha when Vasishtha initi- 
ated Rama into the Science of Brahman. The teachings 
lean more towards the Adwaitha philosophy of Sree 

Manthra Rainayana 
By Lakshmanarya a rare and unic 
156 hymns of the Rigveda are 
as the basis of the incidents of t 
taught these very same texts 
verted them later on into stanzas i 


it is a summary of the epic, and forms its first chapter 
the Samkshepa Ramayana. The author interprets each 
Manthra narratively and spiritually, while he refers the 
Dreader to Sayana, the standard commentator, for the current 

The Puranas 

Every one of them narrates at some length the in- 
cidents in the life of Rama ; while the Padmapurana gives 
a comparative account of the same in a previous kalpa. 


By the famous poet Kalidasa. In 19 chapters he 
relates the prominent incidents in the lives of the Solar 
Kings from Dileepa down to Agnivarna 

Bliattt Kavya 

By the poet Bhatti, who lived about the time of King 
Dharasena, of ruler Balabln. Evey one of the 22 Chapters 
of the work is built of words which illustrate some one 
important peculiarity m Sanskrit grammar. 

Kamba Ramaycwa 

By Kamban, the inspired Tamil poet. Night after 
night he, listened to the various Ramayanas and the 
Puranas expounded by the ablest men of his time ; and 
the next day he sang them in melodious stanzas. He is 
the Milton of Tamil literature and his Ramayana is the 
Indian Paradise Lost. 


By Tulasidas, the famous saint of Northern India. 
He was the son of Athma Rama, and was born at Delhi. 
in" 1575 A. D. He was warmly patronised by Shah 
Jahan, the Magnificent, and spent his life at Benares. In 
1&24 A. D. he went back unto Sree Rama, whose Life he 


sang. He divides his work into 7 cantos like the Ramayana 
of Valmeeki, but the Balakanda is the longest of them. The 
Uttarakanda deals at length with the episode of the Crow- 
sage Bhusunda, and of Devotion in its manifold aspect. 

It was thus the Ramachanthra came down to him. In 
a former kalpa, in a dark age of ijt, there lived a Soodra in 
the kingdom of Kosala. He was a bigoted worshipper of 
Siva and a bitter hater of other sects. A cruel famine 
drove him from his place to Ujjain, where a philanthropic 
Saivite took him in, relieved his wants and revealed to him 
the inner nature of Saivaism and the fundamental 
unity of all religions. But, the past karma of the 
unfortunate man drove him on with irresistable 
force to the deeper depths of mtolerent bigotry. Blinded 
with fanatism, he came to regard his broad-hearted teacher 
as a heretic, and thought it his bounden duty to hold him 
up to criticism and ridicule. One day his master chanced 
to come into the temple where the misguided man was 
seated in devout meditation upon his God. Big with conceit, 
he rose not to salute him ; but, sat on with a look of pity 
and contempt upon his face. His teacher minded it not, so 
great was his heart and so full of pity for the erring one. 
But, the Lord Mahadeva could not pass over the open 
insult to his servant "A serpent thou shall become" said he 
" and ot unwieldy bulk." The Teacher, pained to the heart 
at this unlooked-for doom of dread, besought of the 
Loid to mitigate the severity of the sentence. "Nay" 
replied Siva " it can't be undone. But, your intercession 
shall preserve him from the bhndrng force of births and 
deaths. His course shall be unimpeded on earth, and he 
shall remember his past." Thus, the fanatic Saivite became 
an ardent devotee of Sree Rama ; and many were the 
houses of flesh he abode in. In one of them he was a 
Brahmana; and sought the lonely retreats of Mount Ateru, 


where he came upon the Rishi Lomasa. Our friend clasped 
his feet in reverence and prayed to be instructed in' the 
Science of Brahman. Lomasa tried to draw his heart to- 
wards the Absolute, beyond all attributes, beyond all Name 
and Form, But, he felt himself out his death in it and prayed 
oft to be initiated into the worship of Sree Rama. Again and 
again he crossed the sage, who, out of patience with him, 
cried out, " A croaking crow thou shalt become/' 
(We should not jump to the conclusion that Lomasa, the sage 
of restrained self, could not keep his temper. Far from it. He 
was but the mouthpiece of the karma of the man, that came 
to a head at that moment). But, the Brahmana had now a cle- 
arer intellect and a calmer heart. He accepted with gladness 
the apparent cuise as one more debt paid, as one more stone 
removed from the Path of Progress. Lomasa thereupon 
instructed him in the mysteries connected with Sree Rama 
and narrated unto him the Life-record of the Divine One, 
known as Ramachanthra Manasa. The crow passed be- 
yond the portals of Death ; Time had no power over him. 
His vision was unclouded and saw far into the heart of 
things. Rama had not a more ardent devotee. He was the 
great Yogi, Bhusunda. 

When Rama was bound by the magic weapons of 
Indrajith, Narada despatched Garuda, the Divine Bird, to 
destory them. Now, the messenger was seized with a 
cruel doubt "If Rama be the Supreme Brahman, how 
could Indrajith or any other prevail over him ? " He prayed 
Narada to enlighten him on the point. Narada sent him to 
his Father Brahma who passed him on to Mahadeva, the 
supreme hierophant of the mysteries connected with Rama. 
^But, Sankara transferred him to Bhusunda, the latest addition 
to the fold; and Garuda heard from the crow the Rama- 
charithramanasa, as also the deeper truths connected with 
the Lord's Illusion and doings. 


One day Mahadeva happened to visit Agasthya ; and 
Parvathi went along with him. There they had the plea- 
sure of listening to the life and adventures of Sree Rama 
as narrated by the sage. Mahadeva, struck with his extreme 
devotion to Rama, instructed Agasthya in the deeper mys- 
teries of the Divine Incarnation. In the course of time, 
Mahavishnu came down on earth as Raghava, exiled him- 
self to Dandaka, lost Seetha, and went in search of her 
with a breaking heart and woe-begone countenance. 
Sankara failed to meet him then, try as he would. Later on, 
his wishes were gratified. Bhavani, who was with him, 
could not refrain from exclaiming to herself, " And so this 
is Sree Rama who bewails the loss of his wife like any 
countryman ? And this is what Sankara would persist 
in regarding as the supreme Brahman and the object of 
his worship ? Verily, Agasthya was a little too enthusiastic 
over his hero." Sankara warned her of her grievous mis- 
take, and let her into the truth about Rama's incarnation. 
" How is it, my dear, you fail to see that all this is his 
delightful illusion ? He is a man now and a forlorn 
lover ; he cannot but play the part to perfection." 
But, Parvathi would not yield her point. Then, Sankara 
advised her to go by herself and subject Rama to any test 
she liked ; for, that is the only means of convincing an 
obstinate sceptic. Accordingly, Rudrani repaired to 
where Rama was and stood before him as Seetha. Laksh- 
mana could not pierce through the illusion ; but, Rama 
quietly called out, " Greeting to you, sister mine ! Where 
have you left Sankara and what would you in these fright* 
ful solitudes ? " Parvathi was dumb-founded. Wonder, a 
smarting sense of defeat, shame at being found out and 
fear ior the consequences overcame her. She went -back 
to Paramasiva ; and Rama took the opportunity to mystify 
her still more. Wherever she turned, there sh& saw 

Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha, adored by countless hosts of 
Gods, sages and Thrimoorthis (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva). 
But, when she looked back, lo ! it vanished. Sankara asked 
her with a smile, *' Well, I hope you are satisfied. I am 
curious to know how you tested him/' But, her evil hour 
,was upon her still and she blurted out, "Nay, I thought 
better of it and tested him not. Your arguments were enough 
to convince me. " Now, Mahadeva's heart was heavy with 
grief ; Parvathi could not withstand the illusion cast 
upon her by Rama ; and she could not keep her lips , from 
a lie. Then, he bethought himself that she had, though 
for a time, assumed the guise of Seetha the Divine Mother. 
" No more in this incarnation shall I regard this woman 
as my wife ; she is a mother to me and sacred, " The 
Gods sang his praises high, who testified his devotion to 
Rama by such a terrible vow. Sometime after, Parvathi 
came to know of it and prayed hard to be forgiven ; but 
Siva was in deep meditation and could not reply ; and she 
dragged on a miserable existence in that body of hers for 
about 87,000 years. At last Sankara arose from his Samadhi 
and the first thing he did was to recite the holy Names of 
Sree Rama. < 

Daksha's sacrificial rite, his insult to Siva, Par- 
vathi's abandonment of her body, her re-birth as the 
daughter of Himavan, her prolonged austentes to become 
the wife of Sankara, her marriage to him, the blasting of 
Manmatha, and the birth of Karthikeya followed in due 
course. One day Parvathi reverted to the old topic and 
begged her husband to clear her doubt. And Sankara, out 
of the supreme compassion of his heart, narrated to her 
the Ramachanthramanasa, even as Bhusunda gave it to 
Garuda, The sage Yagnavalkya got it from the crow, 
Bharadwaja from Yagnavalkya and Thulasidas from one of 
his pupils. 


The Jaina Ramayana 

This forms the tenth chapter of the Vllth canto of 
the work, Thnshashti-elakapurusha-chantra, a work 
Written in the Prakrith dialect by Hemachandracharya, the 
Jaina. There is very little in common between the 
Ramayana of Valmeeki and the Jaina Ramayana. And 
that is excuse enough for my giving the readers a brief 
summary of it. 

Bharathakhanda forms one of the nine portions of 
Jamboodweepa, the first of the seven globes that go to make 
up this Earth-chain. And at Vineetha, a lovely town in 
it, held sway King Sagara, of the royal line of Ikshvaku. 
Hunting was a passion with him, to which he sacrificed his 
kingdom and its cares. One day he chased a deer far, 
far into the woods, when his horse got out of hand and 
took him into a strange wood that he had never before 
been in. Suddenly it fell dead from exhaustion ; and 
Sagara, faint with hunger and fatigue, trudged on wearily 
for a long time, until he came upon a lovely lake hidden 
Within a thick grove. He threw himself down on its banks 
to rest, too tired to quench his burning thirst at the cool 
waters that lay to his hand. Soon he was conscious of some 
other presence near him, and casting his eyes in that direc- 
tion, a vision of beauty dawned upon him. 

A young maiden, in the prime of youth and loveli- 
ness, stood at a distance, gazing with curious eyes of fear 
and shyness upon the strange visitor. The grace that 
pervaded her form and her every movement, the dazzling 
radiance that enveloped her like a halo, and the stamp of 
nobility about her deprived him of every bit of self-* 
control he claimed to possess ; and there he stood 
starwg at her, like any greenhorn fresh from his 
fifelds, But> the maideji was as much at a loss to 
account for the strange emotions that played over 


her heart and rooted her feet to the spot, perforce 
to gaze upon the intruder with wonder-waiting eyes. It 
was a case of mutual love at first sight. All at once, a call 
from some one near broke into the lovely dream and like a 
flash, the girl vanished back into the grove. Sagara, who 
by that time had fairly lost all consciousness of where he 
was, or what he was doing, was rudely awakened to a sense 
of reality and closed his eyes to see if he was not the vic- 
tim of some strange optic illusion. When he opened his 
eyes, there stood before him an aged man who wore the 
livery of a king upon him. He bowed to Sagara with the 
deepest reverence and said, " Lord ! I am entrusted with 
a message to you which I beg to lay at your feet. It 
might not be unknown to you that Sulochana, of the 
race, ruled at Gaganavallabha, hard by the Vidyadhara 
Mount Vaithathya. He had two children, a boy Sahasra- 
nethra and a girl Sukesi. Poornamegha, of the same 
race and lord of Rathanapura, was a suitor for the 
hand of the princess ; and as Sulochana would not 
favour his suit, the lover made war upon him, slew him in 
battle and annexed his kingdom. But, the God Chakrapani 
saved the lives of the children, and led them onto this forest, 
where they have lived ever since m disguise. If seems 
that Sukesi, the princess, saw you here. Her heart has gone 
out to you and she would give you her hand in marriage. 
Her brother (to whom you are not unknown by fame) 
looks upon it with supreme satisfaction and has sent me 
here to request you to repair to their lowly abode." 

Sagara was overjoyed at this unexpected turn of events 
that promised to gratify the wildest hopes of his heart, and 
gladly followed his guide. He married Sukesi, and lost no 
time in leading an army against the usurper, whom he defea- 
ted with dreadful loss. Sahasranethra ruled over his father's 
dominions, and the lands of his foe. 


Some^fcie after, the friends made a pilgrimage to a 
famous shrine of Lord Jina, in a grove near the town of 
Saketha. As Fate would have it, Sahasranethra came upon 
Poornamegha, the murderer of his father and his son 
Ghanavahana. Blind with rage, he slew the father out of 
hand and was at the point of sending the son after him, when 
Lord Jina stayed his arm. Then, Sagara prayed of the 
Lord to lift the veil from the past. " What causes brought 
about such a deadly hatred between Poornamegha and 
Sulochana, between Ghanavahana and Sahasranethra ? Why 
should myself and Sahasranethra be drawn towards each 
other by feelings of strongest affection ? " Then, the Lord 
opened their eyes to the past, and said : " There 
dwelt, of yore, at Adithyapura, a merchant by name Bhavana. 
He was away in other lands trading for a long time ; when, 
he was seized with a fit of home sickness, and travelled 
back as fast as he could. He left his friends and fellow- 
travellers far behind, and came back to his home some 
time after midnight. In the anxiety of his heart, he knock- 
ed loud and vehemently for admittance. But, wonderful 
are the ways of Fate. His son Handasa, thus rudely roused 
from his deep slumbers, mistook his father for some daring 
dacoit, least expecting his parent's arrival at that time. He 
rushed out in anger, and alas! struck him dead, his poor father 
at his own threshold, when his heart was beating high with 
the anticipated delight of meeting, after so long a period of 
separation, those whom he loved most. But, inexhorable 
karma could not be stayed in its course; and they were born 
later on as Poornamegha and Sulochana, with the old fierce 
animosity still ablaze in their hearts. 

" A devout ascetic you were in your last birth ; and- two 
disciples you had, Sasi and Avali. One day, they chanced 
to quarrel over something, and Sasi killed his friend in a fit 
of fury. They are no other than Ghanavahana 

B 39 

Sahasranethra ; and their last thoughts still dominate their 
hearts. Avali was your favourite and is now your friend 
and kinsman." 

This marvellous story, this page from the past, 
was listened to with deep wonder and surprise by 
every one present. But, none drank in the words of 
the Lord with greater avidity than Bheema, one of the door- 
keepers and a Rakshasa by descent. All at once he 
rushed from his place to where Ghanavahana stood, 
fell upon his neck with tears of joy, and cried, " In my 
last birth I was Vidytithnethra, the king of Kanchana- 
pura, and you were Rathivallabha, the son of my 
heart. The great gods have restored you to my arms 
after so long a time. But, full well do I know that my 
days are over, and I must quit this body. So, receive 
from me this diamond necklace and the arts of illusion of 
which I am a master. I crown you king of Lanka in the 
Rakshasadweepa, as also of the Pathala Lanka, six Yojanas 
deep below the Earth. May you live long and happily to 
perpetuate on earth the line of Rakshasas." 

Accordingly, Ghanavahana became the ruler of the 
Rakshasadweepa. His son was Maharakshasa, who begat 
Devarakshasa. His son Keerthidhavala took to wife Devi, 
the daughter of Sreekantha, who ruled over Vaithathya. 
Thatithkesa succeeded him in the sovereignty of the Rak- 

Meanwhile, Pushpoththara of the Vidyadhara race, and 
ruler of Rathanapura, had long contemplated an alliance 
between Devi and his son Padmoththara; but, as her father 
would not hear of it, he resolved to revenge himself upon 
him. Now, Padma his daughter, had long loved 
in secret Sreekantha ; who, coming to know of it, carried 
her away in his aerial car. Pushpoththara was be- 
side himself with rage and was at the heels of his foe, 


vowing dire vengeance upon him. But, Keerthidhavala 
interferred, and reconciled them ; whereafter, they became 
fast friends. Pushpoththara installed Sreekantha as the 
ruler of Vanaradweepa, where the latter made Kishkmdha 
his capital. His son was Vajrakantha, who begat Dadhiratha. 

Once, Sreechandra the wife of Thatithkesa, requested 
her husband to take her out for a pleasure trip in the 
aerial car. They went to Vanaradweepa, and had a very 
pleasant time of it ; when, a monkey tore at Sreechandra 
with his claws. Thatithkesa was so much enraged that he 
struck him dead on the spot. A devout follower of Ji- 
neswara the Lord of Compassion, he felt supreme remorse 
for having taken the life of a living thing. An ascetic 
happened to pass by, and the king questioned him as to his 
unwitting crime. The holy man's exhortations were so 
powerful as to arouse in his heart supreme indifference to 
the things of the world. He installed his son Sukesa on 
the throne and donned the orange-robes of the Sanyasi. 
Dadhiratha, the ruler of Vanaradweepa, had a similar turn 
of mind and entrusting his kingdom to his son Kishkindha, 
renounced the world. 

Meanwhile, a great Swayamvara was announced at 
Adithyapura, ruled over by Manthramah. On that occa- 
sion, his daughter Sreemala threw the garland of flowers 
around the neck of Kishkindha of the Vanaradweepa and 
thereby choose him out as her partner in life. Asanivega 
of Rathanapura resented it as an insult to himself, fought 
with the successful lover and drove him out of his kingdom. 
Sometime after, Sukesa underwent a similar fate at his 
hands, when the two companions in misfortune retired to 
Pathalalanka with their followers, and lived a happy life 
there and fearless. There Indrani, the wife of Sukesa, gave 
birth to Mali, Sumali and Malyavan ; while Sreemala begat 
Adithyarajas and Riksharajas. 


Mali somehow came to know that his ancestral Lanka 
was in the hands of the ruler of Rathanapura ; he repaired 
thither, drove him out of his new conquests and regained 
his kindom. Later on, he marched upon Rathanapura and 
its ruler. Indra was then the king. His mother 
Chithrasundan was possessed of an evil spirit, that filled her 
with a strong passion for Indra, the Lord of the Celestials. 
Her husband came to know of it, and gladdened her heart 
by assuming the form of the object of her love. A son was 
born unto her, whom she named Indra. But, the boy did 
not Stop there; he imitated his great name-sake in his 
weapons, retinue, vehicles and other signs of royalty and 
ruled long and well. Mali, the Rakshasa, fell in battle with 
him* Thereupon, the conqueror made over Lanka to 
Vaisravana, the son of Visravas and his wife Samseka. Then 
Sumali and Malyavan hid themselves in the Pathalalanka 
and led the life of ascetics. But, Sumali never despaired 
of restoring the fortunes of his house; so, he took to wife 
Kekasi, the daughter of Vyomabindu, by whom he had 
three sons Rathnasravas Bhanukarna (Kumbhakarna), Vi- 
bheeshana and a daughter Soorpanakha. The boys were 
endowed with extraordinary strength and might and stood 
over sixteen and a half bows-length in height. Rathnasravas, 
the eldest, one day came upon a necklace of gems that 
belonged to his father and lightly placed it round his 
shoulders. Now, its might was such that none could so much 
as move it an inch ; thousand deadly serpents guarded it 
day and night. Sumali watched that wonderful feat of his 
son and, struck with the reflection of the face of the boy 
in the nine gems, named him Dasamukha (ten-headed). 

Sometime after, the young man came to hear from his 
mother how their house had. been rulers of Lanka and 
the Rakshasadweepa, how they were dispossessed of it, 
and were leading a hole-and-corner existence down there 

as sanyasins. The spirit of his ancestors was upon him ; 
and he retired to the depths of Bheemaranya, from 
which he returned master of a thousand magical arts. 
He married Mandodan, the daughter of Maya of the 
Vidyadhara race, and had by her a son Indrajith. Six 
thousand Gandharva women became his wives later on. He 
attacked Vaisravana, drove him out of Lanka and 
held sway over the Rakshasadweepa with great pomp, 
One day, he came to know through Pavanavega that the 
sons of Kishkindha, the old friend of his house, was thrown 
into hell by Yama, a descendant of Indra of Rathanapura. 
He proceeded to where they were, relieved them from their 
misery, drove Indra from his kingdom and made Adithya- 
rajas the ruler of Kishkmda's dominions, while Riksharajas 
was placed over Rikshapura in the Vanaradweepa. 
Adithayarajas took to wife Indumathi, by whom he had 
two sons Vali and Sugreeva. Riksharajas married Hari- 
kantha, who bore him Nala and Neela. 

Reports of the mighty strength and prowess of Vali 
reached Dasamukha's ears ; and he proceeded forthwith 
to Kishkindha and his army with him. But, Vali could not 
understand this unprovoked attack ; so, he simply caught 
up the Rakshasa and placed him in durance vile. Dasa- 
mukha had ample time for reflection and repentance ; he 
frankly confessed to Vali that he had miscalculated and 
had caught a Tartar ; he prayed hard to be set free, and 
vowed deathless friendship and gratitude. Vali, for all his 
strength and valour, seems to be a good soul and soft-hearted; 
and he allowed Rayana to go back in peace. Some time 
after, Vali installed his brother Sugreeva in his place and 
retired to the charming solitudes of Mount Meru to lead a 
We of quit meditation. Sugreeva gave his daughter 
Sreeprabha in marriage to Dasamukha and celebrated it 
with extraordinary pomp and splendour. 


Long afterwards, the Rakshasa monarch fell in love 
with Rathnavah, a goddess of Nithyaloka and went thither 
in his aerial car. All at once its course was checked; and 
looking down, he saw that it was Mount Meru and Vali 
seated there plunged in profound meditation. Fired with 
wrath at this insult to his majesty, he attempted to root out 
the mountain and Vali along with it* The monkey smiled in 
pity and, not disposed to be too hard upon the fool, pressed 
down the mount ever so much with his toe. Dasamukha 
could not free his hands from between the mountain and 
the earth. Long did he howl in his agony ; and heart- 
rending were his prayers and protestations to Vali, who, 
tired of it ill, let him go. This incident gave the Rakshasa 
a fresh epithet the Howler (Ravana). 

Sometime after, he won the grace of Jmeswara and 
was allowed to obtain from Dharna, the serpent, the magi- 
cal art known as Sakthi Now, the ambition to rule 
over the broad earth and the kings on it caught 
him in its grip ; and, with Sugreeva to aid him, he 
started on a campaign of conquest. On his way, he broke 
his journey at the banks of the river Narmada to bathe 
and rest a while. He was engaged m devout worship of 
Jineswara on the pleasant sands of the river, when Sahas- 
ramsa, king of Mahishmathi, kicked away the dam that kept 
back its waters. The rolling torrent came upon Ravana 
all too soon and washed away his image and the articles of 
worship. Ravana, beside himself with rage, attacked 
Sahasramsa and took him prisoner ; but, set him free at the 
earnest request of his father Sathabahu. Sahasramsa never 
recovered from the blow ; he made over his kingdom 
to his friend Anaranya, and took holy orders. But, 
the contagion spread to the new ruler, who placed 
his son Dasaratharaya on the throne and became a 


During his travels, Ravana came upon king Maruth- 
tharaya, who was engaged in a grand sacrifice. Countless 
sheep and cattle were tied to the sacrificial posts, patiently 
awaiting the hour of their death and deliverance. 
Ravana, as a true follower of Jmeswara, could not bear to see 
this wanton cruelty, this hecatomb of innocent animals, with 
no words to voice their misery but a cry. In a fit of fury, he 
made sad havoc of the sacrifice. Narada, who set on 
Ravana to this act of mercy, came there, praised the Rak- 
shasa and his piety, and said to the assembled crowd, 
" There lived of yore a great teacher by name Ksheeraka- 
damba. His son Parvathaka, the prince Vasuraya, son of 
Abhichandra of Sukthimathi and myself the third, 
were disciples unde r the holy man. One day, he gave 
us each a bird made of flour and told us to kill it 
where there were none present. We took different 
directions. The others came back after a time and 
described how they killed their birds and where ; but, I 
came back to the teacher and said, ( Reverend Sir ! Try 
as I would, I failed to find a place where there is none ; 
and further, I hold that harmlessness to all sentient beings 
is the highest virtue. The master was mightily pleased with 
me and condemned the others to long periods of life in 
hell. But, Parvathaka his son, wanted to know the why 
of it and argued the point with me. " The Vedas enjoin 
on us the sacrifice of Aja. Now, the word has no other 
meaning in good honest Sanskrit than a sheep or a goat.' 
' But ' cried I ' the same word has been understood to 
denote that which is not born. Now, what can it mean, in 
the name of common sense, but grain that has been kept over 
three years ; for, then, it is useless as seed. The Vedas, 
ever intent upon putting down every tendency to harm any 
sentient being, declare that all sacrifice should be made 
with such gram ; that is how Aja should be mterperted, 


Grain having the power of reproduction in it is, in 
a way, a sentient being ; and it must not receive harm at 
our hands. How absurd to apply the passages to authorise 
sacrifice of animals, so much higher in the scale of evolu- 
tion than grain!' But, Parvathaka was hard to convince ; 
so, I referred the matter to Vasuraya as the umpire. He 
too decided it in favour of my opponent. But, the 
Gods, who are ever by us, were incensed at his unjust 
decision and condemned him to hell." The assembled 
multitude were loud in their praises of Narada for the 
masterly and lucid manner in which he had solved a very 
vexed question and let light upon it. Maruththaraya paid no 
heed to the ruin of his sacrifice ; he placed to heart the 
words of Narada and bestowed his daughter Kanakaprabha 
in marriage upon Ravana. 

The Rakshasa king next proceeded to Mathura and 
was the guest of Madhu, who was the envied possessor of a 
trident given him by God Chamarendra. A warm friendship 
grew up between the two, and Ravana cemented it by giving 
his daughter Manorama as a wife to Madhu. News reached 
him through his spies that Nalacoobara was ruling his 
subjects with a rod of iron ; and Ravana proceeded there 
in all haste to punish the tyrant as he deserved. But, his 
wife Uparambha, a good woman and virtuous, interceded 
for him and promised that he would turn over a new leaf ; 
whereupon, Ravana left him in peace and turned his arms 
against Indra of Rathanapura. Now, Indra had for long 
years kept his name untarnished, and had jealously guarded 
his title of 'the Invincible/ But Fate fought against him 
in the shape of Ravana ; and he drank of the bitter cup of 
defeat. Nirvanasangama, his teacher, reminded him of a 
past evil deed of his, when he insulted Ahalya, the wife of 
a holy man Anandamali ; his defeat might be, in a way, an 
expiation of the sin, Indra was consoled somewhat, 


Thus, Havana ranged over the earth, now winning hard 
victories over some and anon suffering shameful defeat at 
the hands of others. On his way back to Lanka, he was 
met by Ananthaveerya, the sage, who said to him, " Dasa- 
mukha, my son ! you have incurred much sin by violating 
the wives of others. A heavy punishment is in store for 
you through the Lord Vasudeva. You will lay violent 
hands on his wife, and he will be your Fate. " Now, 
Havana's heart sank within him, at these words of evil omen. 
"Well " he said to himself, "let the dead past bury itself. 
No use of crying over spilt milk. Henceforth at least, I 
shall keep my heart away from those who place not their 
affections on me." 

There was a king, by name Mahendra, who held sway 
at Mahendrapura, near mount Vaithathya. He had a wife 
Hridayasundan and a daughter Anjanasundari. Countless 
were the princes that sought her hand in marriage, and 
sent their horoscopes and portraits to her father. Mahen- 
dra consulted with his ministers, and chose Vidyuthprabha 
and Pavananjaya as the best of the lot. Now, Vidyuth- 
prabha was the master of unbounded wealth, was extremely 
proficient in all the arts and sciences of the time, and was 
gifted with marvellous beauty; but, the stars promised him 
a very short life. Pavananjaya, the son of Prahladaraya, who 
reignfed at Adithyapura, was not endowed with such excel- 
lences as his rival ; but, the astrologers guaranteed him a 
very long life. 

Naturally, the father chose the latter as a meet husband 
for his girl, fixed the day of marriage and sent word to his 
friends and kin that he would celebrate it at a town near the 
holy spot Manasatheerththa, Well, they assembled there in 
due course, and the preliminary rites were conducted with 
magnificent pomp. Pavananjaya was no fool. He knew 
very well that the choice fell upon him not because he was 



a more eligible party than his rival, but because his life was 
an unusually long one. He could not repress the natural 
curiosity to know how his affianced took it, how the 
king and his people viewed it. He managed to cenceal 
himself in the apartments of the princess, with a view to 
hear for himself what they thought of the match. Anjana- 
sundan and her two friends touched upon various 
current topics for a time; when, one of the girls turned to 
the other and said, " I cannot, for the life of me, make out 
why our master should pass over Vidyuthprabha, the most 
beautiful and wealthy of all the princes we know, and pitch 
upon Pavananjaya as a husband for our princess. May be 
you are in the secret." " Nay, nay " replied the other 
" there is nothing in it to make a secret of. Vidyuthprabha 
has but a short life before him ; and Pavananjaya has an 
unusually long one. At least that is what the astro- 
logers give out. That is all." "What a pity ! " rejoined the 
first " Better a short life and sweet than a long one and 
dreary. A cup of nectar and death the next moment, is 
what I would prefer to unending draughts of poison anda 
lease of life, longer if possible than that of Father Time.'' 
But, Anjanasundan quietly listened to it as became a duti- 
ful daughter. Her face was as inscrutable as a sphinx ; nor 
did she chide her maids for taking that extraordinary liberty 
with her and the object of her father's choice. Pavananjaya 
unfortunately jumped to the conclusion that the princess 
accepted him not for his own sake ; his only recommenda- 
tion was that the astrologers guaranteed him a very long life. 
He was the last man to make a scene. His friends, 
his kin and the guests shall never come to know the 
great sacrifice he made for their sake. He would go through 
the affair as if he were the most ardent of lovers; but, Anja- 
nasundan must be a stranger to him for the rest of his life. 
| *b? marriage came off as grandly as any one could, \yislv 


Pavananjaya took his bride home to his capital, gave her a 
splendid suite of apartments, numerous retinue and every 
comfort that heart could desire ; but, he never set his 
eyes upon her. 

Ravana the Rakshasa, sustained shameful defeat at the 
hands of Varuna and sent word to his friend Prahladaraya 
to come and lead his troops against the foe. Pavananjaya 
caught at the opportunity to escape from a cheerless home. 
His parents and wife did their very best to detain 
him ; but he heeded them not. He travelled far 
during the day and encamped at night on the shores 
of Lake Manasarovara. It was insufferably hot 
and sultry. Nature seemed to hold her breath in 
pain. Pavananjaya rolled on an uneasy bed, listless and 
too tired to sleep. A swan sent up from somewhere near 
a doleful wail, calling upon her mate that came not. It arous- 
ed in the prince a train of thought, that unconsciously led 
him to reflect upon the life of happy couples,of love-matches, 
and of the course o\ true love that did run smooth. His mind 
had been under a cloud, and his heart warped and un- 
naturally perverted. What a brute he had been 1 And what an 
angel of goodness and patience his wife had proved herself! 
His unbounded self-conceit had certainly misconstrued her 
maiden modesty and silence, into a loveless heart and utter 
apathy. Well, he was glad that he had found out his mis- 
take before it was too late. Not a moment should be lost in 
making ample reparation, even to the fullest. So, he took 
horse it once, and, before midnight, was at the 
gates of his palace unknown to any. He sought 
the presence of his wife ; and, to her great surprise 
-and bewilderment, confessed everything frankly and 
honestly, and besought her to pardon him and forget 
the past if possible* They had a very happy time of 
it that tiight ; and in the small hours of the morning 


Pavananjaya took leave of his wife, promising to be back as 
early as possible. As a sign of his visit to her that night, 
and to silence any scandal in case she conceived and bore 
him a child, he gave her his signet ring and rode back in 
all speed to the camp. 

Anjanasundan did conceive and it came to the 
ears of the king and queen. They would not listen 
to any explanations. They would not bestow a glance 
at the signet ring she produced. They would not heed 
the advice of their prudent minister to take no action until 
their son should corne home. The unfortunate girl was 
made to leave the capital the very next day. Her parents 
were, if possible, more stupid and pig-headed. " You 
do not want us to believe that they are fools enough to 
punish an innocent girl. Here is no place for you." 

Now, the princess had a very dear friend of hers, 
by name Vasanthathilaka. She sought her out and 
requested shelter and help from her when her hour 
of pain and misery should come upon her. For once, 
the tie of friendship was stronger than the tie of blood. 
A loving heart saw more clearly than Age and crabbed Pre- 
judice She consoled the heart-broken girl and assured 
her that she would see her through at any cost. They left 
the abodes of men far behind and repaired to the wild 
woods, travelling by easy stages, and subsisting 
on the kindly charity of those they came across. 
At last they reached Hanupura, a sort of oasis in the midst 
of a dense forest, and put up for themselves a sort of 
cottage near the hermitage of Amithagathi, a holy man. 
One morning Vasanthathilaka approached him and asked, 
"Holy sir! What will become of my poor friend? The child in 
her wornb has it happy days before it ? " And to her 
replied the sage, " In her last birth this lady was Laksh- 
meevathi, one of the two queens of Kanakaratha. She 

hated her rival, and in sheer spite, stole the image of Jines- 
wara that she worshipped, and threw it on a heap of rub- 
bish. But, repentence came upon her soon. She brought 
back the image and prayed to the Lord to pardon her sacri- 
lege. That is why she was hounded out by her kith and 
km. Her timely repentance will bear ample fruit, in that 
a son would be born unto her ; and great will be his fame 
in all the worlds. The cloud that now darkens her fair 
name will soon pass away and she will be taken back with 
joy and honor by the very people who have discarded her." 

Shortly after, Anjanasundan gave birth to a son. I* 
was a Sunday in the month of Chaithra and the constella- 
tion Sravana ruled the day. Hanumantha they called him, 
from Hanupura, where he was born. Mighty were his 
feats and marvellous his deeds even as a child ; and the 
fame of his strength and prowess flew far and fast. 
One morning he saw the rising Sun and mistaking it for a 
nice plaything, sprang into the air to bring it down. But, 
he found out his mistake and alighted on mount Sreesaila, 
which was shattered to pieces through the shock. 

Meanwhile, his father Pavananjaya made war upon 
Varuna, routed his army and delivered from captivity Khara 
and Dooshana, the brothers of Havana Thereafter, he 
returned to his kingdom, covered with glory and loaded 
with honors and presents by the Rakshasa king. A terri- 
ble shock awaited him at home. His wife, his new-found 
love, was mercilessly driven from the town by his own 
parents, who ought to have known better and all because 
she had born in her womb the happy pledge of their re- 
union after long years of desolate misery. They might 
have at least waited for him to come back ; he had a voice 
in the affair ; he had more vital interests at stake. He 
called the people together and related to them how he had 
cruelly misunderstood his innocent wife, how happy Fate 


brought them together, how he provided against that 
very contingency and how his parents were obstinately 
blind to the truth and had perpetrated an unheard-of cruelty. 
His house was left unto him desolate. His heart 
was far away and with his wife. He had no call to remain 
where the persecutors of his wife abode. He would go out 
into the world and search even to the remotest corners of it, 
even if the search should end with his life. Long did he 
wander and far did he roam, until at last one happy day 
he came upon them at the outskirts of Hanupura, living 
all humbly. He clasped his dear wife and dearer child 
to his breast. Vasanthathilaka, a mother to the 
poor girl when her own flesh and blood cast her out with 
scorn he could not thank her enough nor think of any re- 
turn of gratitude, except humbly praying her to live with 
him all her days and continue to be a mother to himself 
and his wife. They came back to his kingdom and lived 
there long and happily. 

Hanumantha rendered signal service to Havana the Rak- 
shasa, who, out of a heart full of gratitude and delight, gave 
him to wife his daughter Sathyavathi. His sister Soorpanakha 
was not less grateful and bestowed her daughter Anantha- 
kusuma upon him. On his way back, Sugreeva and Nala 
invited him to stay with them, and coming to know of the 
great service rendered by him to their old friend Ravana, 
gave him their daughters Padmaraga and Harimahni to 

King Vijaya ruled at Ayodhya. Himachooda was his 
wife and he had two sons Vajrabhahu and Purandara. 
The elder took Manorama to wife ; but, after a time, they 
entered the order of the monks. The younger came to 
the throne, and after him, father and son, Keerthi- 
ratha, Kosala, Hiranyagarbha, Nahusha, Saudana, 
Simharatha, Brahmaratha, Chathurmukha, Hemaratha, 


Satharatha, Vathayapritha, Vandhara, Indudhara, Adithya- 
ratha, Mandhatha, Vetrasena, Prathimanya ; Prathibandhu, 
Ravimanyu, Vasanthalethaka, Kuberadaththa Kumku, 
Sarabha, Dwiratha, Simhadasava, Hiranyakasipu, Punja- 
sthala, Kakuthstha, Raghuraya and Anaranya. His son Dasa- 
ratha reigned at Ayodhya long and happily. King Janaka of 
Mithila was his contemporary and faithful friend. 

One day Havana met Narada, and asked him in a spirit of 
of banter, "Now, tell me when I am to die and by whom ?" 
To whom Narada replied, " The son of Dasaratha, King 
of Ayodhya and the daughter of Janaka of Mithila are your 
Fate." Havana was dumb-founded at this unexpected turn 
of the conversation. Narada had taken him all too seriously 
and had spoken out a very unpleasant prophesy. But, he 
would cheat Destiny and give the he to Narada ; he would 
make it utterly impossible for Dasaratha and Janaka to have 
any children at all ; he would lay them out as corpses and 
there was an end of it. So, he sent his brother Vibhee- 
shana to make away with them ; but, they had word of it 
before hand and were far away by the time their enemy 
was upon their city. Vibheeshana executed the orders 
of Havana upon the life-like images that the kings had 
left on their throne and reported to his brother that the 
objects of his apprehension were no more. 

Meanwhile, Dasaratha travelled a long way and 
settled in the Magadha country with his wives Apara- 
jitha, Sumithra, Kaikeyee and Suprabha. In a battle 
with an enemy who attacked him wantonly, Kaikeyee 
rendered him signal service and in return got from 
the king two boons, which she reserved for some future 
occasion to ask. Dasaratha had four sons. One night 
Aparajitha, his eldest wife, saw in her dreams a lion, an 
elephant, the sun and the moon. The astrologers interpre- 
ted it that she would give birth to a son whose fame would 


spread over the whole world. Shortly after, a son was born 
to her, as beautiful as the Goddess Lakshmi who dwells in 
Brahmaloka. He was an incarnation of one of the gods. 
They named him Padma, from the lotus on which Lakshmi 
sits; Rama was another of his names. The second wife like- 
wise dreamt of a lion, an elephant, the sun, the moon, the 
fire, the ocean God and Lakshmi. A son was born to her, 
blue in hue, overshadowed by Mahavishnu. They called 
him Narayana and also Lakshmana. The third wife, 
Kaikeyee, begat Bharatha, and Suprabha was the mother of 
Sathrughna. About the same time, Janaka married Vaidehi 
and had a daughter, Seetha by name. 

Later on, Atharangama, the Mlechcha king over 
Mayuramala, the capital of Barbaradesa, north of mount 
Kailas, attached Janaka, who requested his friend to assist 
him. Rama obtained permission to go instead of his father 
and defeated the enemy. This induced Janaka to give him 
his daughter Seetha to wife. Now, Narada came to hear 
of the extraordinary beauty of the princess and re- 
paired to the house of Janaka to have a sight of her. But, 
Seetha was horribly frightened at his monstrous ugliness 
and would not come forth. Stung to the quick, Narada 
induced King Bhamandala to abduct Seetha. But, his 
father Chandragathi stopped it and sent word to Janaka to 
give Seetha in marriage to his son. " What a pity!" ex- 
claimed Janaka " I have already promised her hand to 
Rama." But, Chandragathi would not drop the matter 
there. 'Such a gem of a woman shall never be the prize 
of pure luck ; worth, merit and valour must have a 
voice in it too I will send you a famous bow, Vajravar- 
tha. Should Rama succeed in so much as bending it, 
Seetha shall be his.' Janaka acceeded to the proposal and 
and invited Rama to fulfil the conditions. It was but 
play for the hero ; and Seetha became his wife, 


Lakshmana married eighteen maidens of the Vidyadhara 
race ; and Bharatha married the daughter of Janaka's 

Thereafter, Dasaratha was enabled to regain, through 
the grace of Jineswara, his lost kingdom of Ayodhya. But, 
the snows of age chilled his heart and he resolved to 
install Rama in his place. It was then that Kaikayee came 
forward and requested him to fulfil his promise unto her. 
"With the greatest pleasure" replied Dasaratha "Then," said 
Kaikayee " send away Kama to the distant forests and 
place my son Bharatha on the throne." Dasaratha, whose 
heart knew no deceit, whose lips were never soiled by an 
untruth, bowed his head in sorrow and consented to con- 
demn to long exile the darling of his heart. Bharatha 
went on his knees to Rama and besought him to remain at 
Ayodhya and accept the throne as his lawful right. But, 
Rama took an example from his father and was bent upon 
going away from the kingdom. The old monarch had, 
without a moment's hesitation, sacrificed his life and every 
thing that it could offer him on the altar of Truth and 
Duty. Would he, the son of such a noble father, tarnish 
by his weakness for power the bright fame of his ancestors 
that shone far far into the illimitable past ? His father's pro- 
mise, of which the price was his life, should be kept in full. 

Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana travelled long 
and far, and at last entered the dense forests of 
Panyathra. They passed by mount Chittrakoota and 
many days' journey from it, came upon a town where they 
found no living soul. Rama called unto him a hunter that 
stood by, and asked him the reason of it " Lord 1 " said 
the man "this is or this was the famous town of 
Dasanga. Vajrakarm, a petty ruler, governed here with 
great fame and justice. He was a devout follower 
of Jineswara; he cut his image on his signet and vpwed 


that he would never bow his head to any other,, 
god or man. This reached the ears of Simhadasa, his lord 
and master, who came down upon him with a large army, 
drove him and his subjects from the town and reduced it 
to the state you now see it in. " Rama was extremely 
pained to hear it. He directed Lakshmana to punish 
Simhadasa for his wanton injustice and brought about a 
better understanding between him and Vajrakarni. This 
enabled the latter to devote himself heart and soul to the 
worship of Lord Jina. 

Thereafter, they dived deeper and deeper into the dark 
woods and one day came upon a lovely princess wandering 
about in man's attire. They consoled her and came to 
know that her father king Valakhilya was defeated and kept 
in prison by Kaka, a hunter-king. Rama sent Lakshmana to 
slay Kaka and free Valakhilya from bondage 

Another day, they travelled far and suffered much from 
heat, hunger and fatigue. A large banyan offered them a 
welcome refuge under its pillared shade A Yaksha, who 
had made the tree his home, came down and offered reve- 
rent worship to Rama and through his magic, a beautiful 
town arose on the spot, where the exiles lived for a time. 

One day, Rama reached the town of Vijayapura 
and was sauntering through the lovely gardens on 
the outskirts, when he saw a beautiful girl about 
to put an end to her life He ran to her and suc- 
ceeded in thwarting her purpose. '' My good sister ! How 
could you ever think of going into the presence of your 
Maker unbid and before your time '" " Lord 1 " replied the 
maiden, in accents of bitter despair, "doubtless you rejoice 
in having saved my life and regard it as a great benefit 
done to me ; but, if you knew what misery I was trying to 
escape from, you would have been the first to kill me out of 
sheer pity"; and she burst into a flood of tears, 


blamed himselt for having caused her useless grief and 
resolved to lighten her load of sorrow, if that were in his 
power. " Grieve not, my child ! Tell me what your heart 
yearns after ; and you shall have it." Then she took heart 
and said, ''He who stands by your side, your brother Laksh- 
mana, is the cause of all my woe. Mine is a hopeless love 
unreturned. Better dark death than a life of dire misery, a 
living hell. Now, see you not that your promise 
is beautifully fulfilled?" and she laughed out of very 
bitterness. Rama turned to Lakshmana and 
said, " My dear, you see that this lady is endowed 
with no ordinary attractions of mind and body ; she 
has set her heart upon you ; and I have passed my word 
to see her happy which you never knew me to break. So, 
it would give me infinite pleasure to see you take this 
worthy maiden to wife." Lakshmana, to whom his 
brother's word was law, raised the poor girl from the depths 
of hopeless despondency to the highest pinnacle of joy and 
delight. She was to remain with her parents until they 
came back to take her to Ayodhya. 

On their way, they came to know that Athiveerya, king 
of Nandavartha, was working up a conspiracy against his 
master and over-lord Bharatha ; and Rama punished him 
as he deserved. 

Another lime, they stayed at a town named Kshemanjali, 
where Lakshmana married princess Jithapadma. Two 
Brahmanas that lived in the mountain valleys sought his 
feet and were raised by him to the highest heavens. 

Then, they came to the Dandakaranya, so named after 
Danda, the king, who took birth there as a bird to expiate his 
sins. Rama took pity on the poor creature and transformed 
him into Jatayus, a sacred bird. 

Sambooka, the son of Khara and Soorpanakha, was under- 
going severe austerities in a bamboo grove on the banks of 


the Krounchapa. The famous sword Chandrahasa, of magical 
ppwers, was what he wanted to get. Lakshmana decided 
that his success would considerably endanger the safety of 
the world, and slew him with the very sword he was trying 
to get. Soorpanakha was inexpressibly pained to hear of 
it and complained to Rama in no mild terms. She came 
more than once on that errand. Rama's divine beauty 
enslaved her heart and she overcame a woman's sense of 
modesty to beseech him to marry her. But, Rama spurned 
her avvay from him as a loathsome thing, whereupon, she 
set her husband upon Rama and Lakshmana, who she swore 
had offered her deadly insult. Khara, blind with jealous 
rage, came upon them with a large army. Lakshmana asked 
Rama to take care of Seetha while he went forth to fight 
the Rakshasa hosts. Then, Ravana took the opportunity to do 
his sister Soorpanakha a favour. He concealed himself 
behind the hermitage of Rama, and called upon him in the 
voice of Lakshmana to save him from death at the hands ol 
his enemies. Seetha at once concluded that Lakshmana was 
in deadly peril. She lost not a moment in sending Rama 
to his assistance Finding her alone and unprotected, the 
Rakshasa king pounced upon her and earned her to his 
island home in Lanka, where he placed her in the Asoka 
grove under the guard of fierce-visagecl Rakshasis. He tried 
all his arts of persuasion ; he threatened her with horri- 
ble tortures and a lingering death too painful to conceive; 
he offered her his untold wealth and unbounded power; 
his wife Mandodan was induced to plead for him with 
all a woman's logic. But, Seetha grew more and more bitter 
towards Ravana and openly scoffed at him, his barbarous 
splendour, his wild ways, and his unbounded wickedness. 
Vibheeshana tried his utmost to save her from his persecu- 
tions. But, Ravana turned a deaf ear to all remonstrances 
and well-meant advice. 


Rama and Lakshmana annihilated Khara and his forces 
and returned to their hermitage, intending to have a good 
laugh at Seetha for her wild fears for the safety of 
Lakshmana. But, they found their home desolate ; 
search as they would, they came not upon Seetha, nor 
could anybody thereabouts give them the least news 
about her. 

King Viratha complained to Rama and Lakshmana of 
the cruel treatment he had endured from Khara and 
Dooshana ; Lakshmana freed him for ever from his tormen- 
tors and gave him the kingdom of Pathala Lanka to rule. 
He, out of the great gratitude of his heart, sent messengers 
faithful and cunning, north and south, east and west to bring 
him news of Seetha but all in vain. 

Sugreeva, king of the Vanaradweepa, had a wife, Thara 
by name, of matchless beauty and intelligence. Sahajathi 
fell in love with her and taking advantage of the absence oi 
her husband, assumed his shape and proceeded to her apart- 
ments. But, as Fate would have it, the real Sugreeva came 
upon the scene all too unexpectedly. There was a terrible 
fight beteen Sugreerva and his counterfeit, in which the latter 
had the best of it. Sugreeva took refuge with Kama 
and laid before him his tale of wrong and suffering. Rama 
divined the truth in a moment, slew out of hand the pre- 
tender and restored Sugreeva to his kingdom and to his 
wife. The grateful king vowed nevei to rest, until he had 
discovered the whereabouts of Seetha. 

Viratha and Bhamandala sent word to their friend 
Rama, that the wife of his heart was kept in durance vile at 
Lanka by the infamous Ravana. Sugreeva sent his monkey 
hosts to Lankadweepa to search it through and through. 
Hanumantha was entrusted with Rama's signet to watch 
over Seetha in her hour of peril ; and the ring was to be his 


The valiant Hanumantha crossed over to Lanka, inter- 
viewed Vibheeshana and through his help, managed to pene- 
trate into the garden Devaramana, where Seetha was kept: 
in close confinement. She was there, seated under an 
Asoka tree, her heart sore with grief and her thoughts full 
of Rama, whom she expected every moment to come to her. 
Hanumantha declared himself unto her as a trusted mes- 
senger from her lord, produced the signet and acquainted 
her with the whereabouts of Rama and what he passed 
through on her account. Joy illumined the heart of the 
poor forlorn wife. She kissed over and over the priceless 
ring that was to her an embodiment of her beloved; blessed 
Hanumantha as her deliverer from a fate worse 
than a thousand deaths ; and gave him in return 
her own crest-jewel to be taken back to Rama, 
with an oft-repeated prayer to come on the wings of speed 
to Lanka and free her from the clutches of the vile 

Now, Hanuman would not go back without giving 
Ravana some tangible proof of his having been at Lanka, 
something to remember him by ; he managed to destroy a 
large section of the royal army and finished up with send- 
ing Aksha, the favourite son of Ravana and a very famous 
general, to where his forefathers had gone before him. 
But, something remained to be done. He must meet the 
woman-stealer face to face, and have it out with him after 
his own way. So, he allowed himself to be bound by the 
magical serpent-bonds, and was taken before the king. 
There he brake them as so many wisps of straw ; round- 
ly rated Ravana for his evil hfe and his countless iniquities ; 
and in the end, shattered to pieces the diadem of the 
proud monarch. He sprang away over the heads of those 
that stood around him, destroyed many of the fortifications 
of the town and was back to the mainland, leaving Ravana 


and his Rakshasas utterly dazed with fear and confusion. 
He laid before Rama a harrowing tale of Seetha's woe, of 
her fortitude, of her brave defiance of Ravana and hts 
might, of her oft-repeated prayer to be freed from that den 
of crime ; and produced Seetha's crest-jewel to confirm 
his statements. 

Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Hanumantha, Bhaman- 
dala and the monkey hosts marched upon Lanka in hot 
haste. Samudra and Sethu, two friends of Ravana, barred 
their way, whom Nala and Neela put to rout. Suvela and 
Hamsadhara met with no better fate when they tried to 
oppose their march. At last they approached Lanka and 
beseiged it. Meanwhile, Vibheeshana after one more hope- 
less attempt to turn Ravana's feet from the path of 
wickedness, went over to Rama with his army and 
promised signal assistance during the coming battle. 
Then, the two armies closed in deadly light. 
Ravana sent forth his magical serpent-we.ipons to bind the 
monkey host, and render Rama utterly powerless. But, 
Lakshmana thought of his conveyance, the bird Garuda, 
who speedily appeared upon the scene, and made short 
work of the serpents. Rama caused a dreadful carnage 
among the Rakshasa hosts, and victory was almost within 
his reach. Now, Ravana came upon the battlefield, and 
recognising that Lakshmana was the most powerful of his 
foes, hurled upon him a magical weapon, Sakthi by name, 
that he had reserved against his dread enemy Laksh- 
mana respected the convention that the Sakthi ought not 
to be fought against ; he quietly allowed himself to be 
bound and lay as one dead. But, Bhamandala divined his 
purpose ; and in a flash, he was off to mount Drona, from 
Where he brought the Waters of Life. Rama dashed it 
over his brother, who rose as from a deep sleep. Then, 
Lakshmana, who had all along been waiting for the moment 


that would end the life of Havana, mentally called unto 
himself his Discus. It came, and severed the head of the 
Rakshasa king from his body. Vibheeshana begged hard 
of Lakshmana to accept the sovereignty of the Lanka- 
dweepa; but, in return, he himself was crowned king of it by 
his noble benefactor. Kumbhakarna, brother to Havana, and 
Indrajith,his eldest born,were made rulers of other kingdoms. 
Sixteen days they stayed at Lanka, most hospitably 
entertained by Vibheeshana, whose joy and gratitude knew 
no bounds. Thereafter, they travelled back to Ayodhya 
in the famous aerial car Pushpaka. Bharatha and Sath- 
rughna met them some way from the capital; and a touch- 
ing sight it was to see the brothers meet again after 
so many years of separation, danger and trouble. 
Bharatha formally and with a full heart made over the 
kingdom to Rama, its lawful ruler, of whom he was, as he 
declared, but the faithful Viceroy. " He had had enough 
of worldly life " he said and passed away into the silent 
woods, there to hold communion with the Supreme. 
Kaikeyee, who had ample time for reflection and repen- 
tance, was heartily ashamed of her meanness and followed 
her son to his calm retreat. Rama was duly installed on 
the throne of Ayodhya He placed Sathrughna over 
Madhurapun ; gave the Rahshasadweepa to Vibheeshana; 
Sugreeva was to rule over the Vanaradweepa ; Hanumantha 
held sway at Sreepura , Viratha was rewarded for his faith- 
ful service with the vast dominions of Pathalalanka; 
Hanupura, where Hanuman was born, was placed in 
charge of Neela ; Vaithadya and Rathanapura fell to the 
lot of Bhamandala, the true friend. Thus, Rama remembered 
those that had befriended him in his adversity and stood 
by him through peril and danger. They were loaded 
with honors and presents, and went back to their respec* 
pective kingdoms in great joy. 


ruled over Ayodhya long and well; and Seetha, 
Prabhavathi, Rathinibha and Sreedama were his queens. 
Lakshmana divested himself of all cares of state, and lived 
a peaceful life of domestic felicity in the company of his 
wives Visalya, Rupavathi, Vanamala, Kalyanamahka, 
Rathnamahka, Jithapadma and Manorama and the two 
hundred and fifty children born unto them. 

Dasaratha Jathaka. 

It forms one of the Birth-stones of Lord Buddha 
and is written in Pali prose. It confines itself to the first 
part of Rama's adventures, and his wanderings in the 
forest and ends with his marriage to Seetha. But, the 
most curious thing about it is that Rama is represented as 
the brother of Seetha. A verse from chapter 128 of the 
Yuddhakanda is found in it. 


1. Sethu-bandha ' A poem written in the Prakntha 
dialect by Pravarasena. Dandi refers to it in his Kavyadarsa, 

The central episode is Rama's laying a bridge 
across the sea that separates Lanka from the mainland. 

2. Chainpn Ramayana : in five cantos by Bhoja 
Raja. It is a prose work interspersed with beautiful poetry. 

3. Raghava-bhyudaya 

4. Raghava-pandavceya. by Kavi Raja. It is so word- 
ed that it may apply equally well to the adventures of 
Rama or the Pandavas, being in fact an epitome of the 
Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. 

5. Raghava-vilasa : by Visvanatha, the author of 

6. Rama-vilasa: by Ramacharana. 

7. Ramavilasa: by Hannatha. It is written on the 
model of the Geetha Govinda of Jayadeva, 


8. Ramachandra-chariihra-sara : by Agnivesa. 

9. RaghunatJia-bhyudayci. 

10. Raghava-naishadliecva ' by Hara-daththa-soon. 

11. Ramayana-manjan -by Kshemendra. 

12. Ravavarjnnccya by Bhatta Bheema. 


1. Maharcera-charithraand Uttara Rama-chanthra- 
by Bhavabhoothi, dealing respectively with the incidents in 
the Poorvakanda and the Uttarakanda of the Ramayana. 

2. Hanuman-nataki or Malia-nataka- It is said to 
have been composed by Hanuman, who wrote it on 
rocks. Later on, Valmeeki sung his marvellous poem ; and 
lest // should be thrown into the shade, the faithful devotee 
of Rama cast his stanzas into the sea. Long long after, in 
the reign of Bhoja Raja, some portions of them were re- 
covered and arranged by Damodara-misra. It is written in 
fourteen acts, and some of the stanzas are veritable gems of 
Sanskrit literature. 

5. Anargha-raghava in seven acts by Muran. 
4. Prawnna-raghavci . by Jayadeva. 

o. Abhirama-mani in seven acts by Sundara- 

6. Bala-ramayana'by Rajasekhara. 

7. Udaththa-rafthava. 

8. Uiimaththa-r(ighava-by Bhaskara kavi 

9. Chalitha-rauia. 

10. Dootliangada'by Subhata. 

11. Janakee-charana-chamara:by Sreemvasacharya. 

12. Janakee-pannaya:by Ramabhadra Deekshitha. 



Valmeeki and Narada 1 

How Valmeeki came to compose the Ramayana .... 16 

How the Ramayana was composed 21 

Kusa and Lava sing the Ramayana before Rama .... 25 

Ayodhya 29 

Dasaratha 32 


Dasaratha's ministers 36 

A childless king 38 

Rishyasnnga, the innocent 40 

Rishyasnnga, the innocent (continued) 42 

s Dasaratha and Rishyasnnga 45 

The horse-sacrifice resolved upon ... 48 


The horse-sacrifice begun 50 


The horse-sacrifice (concluded) 53 

The gods take refuge with the Lord 58 

The Divine Payasa 61 

The coming down of the gods ... ... 64 

The Coming of the Lord 67 

Visvamithra asks Rama of Dasaratha 72 

Dasaratha' s reply 74 

Vasishtha advises Dasaratha to send Rama .... ... 77 

Rama and Lakshmana go with Visvamithra 80 

Kamasrama .... 83 

Thataka's lair .. &6 

Thataka *89 

The fall of Thataka 91 


The Gift of Visvamitbra 94 

The mystery of the Recall 96 

Vamana and Bah 98 

Visvamithra's sacrifice 101 

The trip to Mithila 104 

Kusanabha 106 

Brahmadaththa 109 

Visvamithra's ancestry Ill 

GangaandUma -113 

Uma's curse 115 

The birth of Karthikeya 117 

Sagara 120 

Sagara's horse-sacrifice '. 121 

The wrath of Kapila 123 



Amsurnan's quest ... ... ,., ,.. ... 1^5 

Bhageeratha's penance ............... 127 

-Descent of Ganga ............... 129 

The end of the quest ........... . .*. 132 

The churning of the Ocean ............ 134 

The birth of the Maruths ............ 137 

The birth of the Maruths (continued.) ... ' ... 139 

Ahalya ..................... 141 

Ahalya and Rama. ... ... ... , .. ... 145 

At Mithila .................. 14f 

Visvamithra's visit to Vasishtha ...... .. ... .... 140 

Vasishtha welcomes Visvamithra *.. ... ...,152 

11 Give me the Cow of Plenty " ............ 158 

Sab^lafight ............ , ..... 156 


Vasishtha and Visvamithra 158 

Brahmana versus Kshathnya 161 


Thrisanku 163 

The royal Chandala , i.. 165 

Visvamithra champions Thnsanku ... .... ... 169 

The triumph of Visvamithra 172 

Ambareesha ... .. ... ... ... ... 176 

Visvamithra saves Sunassepha 178 

Visvamithra and the Siren ISO 

Visvamithra and Rambha ... ... ... ... ls3 

Visvamithra, the Brahmarshi 185 


The Coming of Seetha 189 

The broken bow 191 

Dasaratha invited to Mithila ,, ,., ,. ... 193 


Janaka and Dasaratha 195 

The Race of the Sun 197 

The line of Janaka . ,..200 

The Godana 202 

The wedding 205 

Rama of the Axe 207 

Rama and Rama 210 

The biter bit 211 

Back to Ayodhya 216 



TfoONG, long ago, when the world was yet young, and 
X& the Tret& yuga was nearing its end, there lived a 
sage, by name V&lmiki. His knowledge of the V6das and 
the Vd&ngas was deep and profound He had trod the 
Fourfold Path that leads to Liberation and discharged 
the duties of his place in life to their utmost. He had 
the fleeting senses under perfect control and the mmd> 
their wayward Monarch. And unto him, in his holy 
hermitage, came Narada, one tine morning, Narada, the 
divine sage, Narada, the best and foremost of the mind- 
born sons of Brahma. His long life had been spent in 
unselfish prayer and devout meditation ; the bonds of 
Karma and material existence were to him a thing of the 
past ; he knew no other joy than to contemplate the 
countless perfections of the Lord of All and the deeper 
mysteries of the Holy Writ ; and from his Vln&, Mahatl, 
he drew forth such strains, as held enthralled the hearts 
of all, gods and men, to the accompaniment of which he 
sang the praises and the glory of the Great Father, as 
embodied in the hymns of the SA,m^ Vda. Very lew 
equals had he in the art of speecm ; so clever and so 
convincing was he. 

And to him who came there, impelled by the Searcher 
of Hearts, Valmlki respectfully submitted the following 
questions : 

" Lives there among men, one who is crowned with 
every excellent quality ? 


" Who has mastered the science of weapons, human 
and divine, and out of the might engendered thereby, is 
able to scatter his foes before him ? 

" Who is versed in the mysteries of J)harma, as revealed 
in the Vedas and the Smritis ? 

" Who is it that bears not in mind the grievous wrongs 
done him by others, but magnifies any single act of kind- 
ness on their part ? 

" Who is it whose thoughts, words, and deeds are ever 
in perfect harmony ? 

" Who never strays from his Dharrua, even in the face 
of direst peril and distress ? 

" Whose life is pure and spotless ? 

" Who ever seeks the highest good of Humanity and of 
himself, here and hereafter ? 

" Whose eyes see clearly and unerringly between the 
Eeal and the Unreal ? 

" Who has a profound knowledge of men and things and 
twines himself round the hearts of all ? 

"Who is a perennial source of delight to all that ap- 
proach him ? 

" Who, like a skilful driver, has his mind and senses 
under perfect control ? 

" Who is it that allows not his temper to get the upper- 
hand of him ? 

"Who is it, of presence so charming, that men can 
never have enough of beholding him ? 

" Whose heart knows not envy, spite, and calumny? 

" Who is it that men and gods dare not face, when the 
fierce joy of battle is on him ? 

" Verily, it is almost hopeless to find all these noble 
elements combined in one single individual. But, if there 
be such a one, you would know it of all men ; for, Reverend 
Sir, there is nothing, either in the heavens above, or in 
the worlds below, that escapes your all-seeing eye. And 
nothing would gladden my heart so much as to hear it 
from your lips, if^ou but deem me worthy of the honor." 


He paused for a reply ; and N&rada, rejoiced at having 
at last got an opportunity of giving out to the world what 
had all along lain next his heart and had been the subject 
of his thoughts, waking or sleeping. Lo ! here was a 
disciple after his own heart, who thirsted for the very 
knowledge he was seeking to impart. What more could 
he desire. And then, the questions ! How clear and how 
comprehensive ! So, with a glad heart, he spoke back : 

'* Well hast thou questioned and skilfully. Of a truth, 
it is not easy to find one in whom all these diverse excellences 
are united ; but, with a little thought, I believe I can find 
you a person answering to your description. Verily, no 
one has a better right to know it, for, your keen and clear 
intellect is equalled but by your powerful memory. And 
now, listen with your heart and soul. 

u There now rules the earth a king, by name B&ma, of 
the godly line of Ikshwaku; and in him will you find 
your expectations fall very short of the reality. 

" He has his self under perfect control. His prowess is 
unequalled. The splendour of his presence baffles de- 
scription. He is serene alike in weal and woe. His in- 
tellect is strong, keen, and comprehensive There is very 
little that he does not know about king-craft. His sweet 
speech charms away the hearts of men. You can never 
have enough of looking at him, so lovely a sight is he to 
see Mnemies he has none, either in the world or in 

" Broad are his shoulders and mighty ; his arms are 
stout and strong; his neck is poised on his shoulders 
with perfect grace and the three lines around it make it 
charming to behold. His massive jaws are but an index 
to the iron will of the man. His broad chest and deep 
flanks bespeak a strength that could lightly take up a bow 
and string it, that others would never dream of approach- 
ing. His joints are strong and supple and embedded 
deep in muscle. His friends and followers may well bid 
defiance to their foes, be they ever so mighty. His hands 


are long and powerful and reach down below his kn^es. 
His head is exquisitely modelled and his forehead beauti- 
fully arched like a crescent. Graceful and majestic is his 
gait, even as that of the lion or the elephant or the tiger. 

u Neither too short nor too tall, his stature becomes him 
marvellously. His limbs are clean made and beautifully 
proportioned and his rich complexion speaks of the perfect 
health of the man. It requires but a simple effort of his 
will to destroy his enemies root and branch. His eyes 
are large and lustrous, even as the petals of the lovely 
lotus. Rich in all the things of the world that make a 
man happy, he is, in shoit, the beau-ideal of a man. 

44 The weak and the oppressed find in him a ready and 
fearless champion. He never makes a resolve but it is 
accomplished to the utmost. He is ever intent upon the 
highest good of all beings. Bright is his fame as the 
refuge of the stricken and the terror of his foes, even as 
the sun in his noon-day splendour. Ever engaged in 
meditation on the Supreme Brahman, he has realised his 
oneness with IT. Untouched by Desire and by Hate, with 
his system purified by the regulation of the Vital Currents 
and other yogic practices, and with a body, which, though 
real and substantial to all purposes, is but an illusion, and 
is formed out of a film of inconceivably subtle matter, he 
is ever pure of body, pure of heart, and pure of spirit. 
He is always obedient and dutiful unto his parents, to 
his teachers, and to the Gods ; but, he forgets not, even 
for a moment, ivho lie is and why lie has come down here. 

" He looks after the welfare of his subjects, even as the 
Great Patriarch, Brahma. Of every kind of wealth he 
has enough and to spare. l In him the worlds live and 
move and have their being.' Unlike other rulers of men, 
he reads into the hearts of his subjects and realises for 
them their unspoken wishes, even beyond their wildest 
expectations. He has a watchful eye on the rights and 
duties of all grades of society and sees that they are care- 
fully preserved and properly discharged. To himself he 


is the strictest of taskmasters ; and his daily life is bat a 
silent example and an unspoken lesson to the world in 
its perfect discharge of the manifold and complicated round 
of duties. Ever the spear and the shield of his friends and 
followers, his heart seeks their highest good here and here- 
after. The Heart-Doctrine of the V6das and the V6d&nga&, 
lies open before his unclouded vision. He is a past master 
in the science and art of warfare and in the use and 
mastery of weapons, human and divine. 

"No arts nor sciences, lay or otherwise, have any 
secrets for him. His memory is something marvellous ; 
in argument he is ever clear and convincing, keen and 
thorough in his grasp of a subject, quick and ready in his 
replies, anticipating the slightest objections and difficulties 
of his opponents. One has but to come within the range 
of his benign glance, nay, to seek him in earnest thought, 
to have his heart wishes realised to their utmost, in this 
world or in the next. His manners are sweet and refined. 
The waves of adversity beat against him, but to roll back, 
baffled and broken. He is ever wise and skilful in his 
relations with the world, lay or religious. 

" As the rivers of the world, large and small, 'ever flow 
back to their heart and source, the mighty Ocean, and 
take rest aud refuge in it, so the wisest and the best of 
the land, are ever attracted to him by similarity of tastes 
and pursuits and by an irresistible charm of manner. He 
embodies in himself whatever is highest and noblest in 
the Aryan race and nation. He is just and impartial in 
his dealings with all, friends and foes ; and his heart is like 
the calm waters of the mountain-lake, unruffled by the 
least breath of joy or sorrow. You may look at him ever 
so often, but every time you find in him something that 
surprises you, a new beauty, a new charm. 

" Said I not that Rama, the pride and joy of his mother 
Kausaly, unites in himself every conceivable perfection ? 

" Deep and unfathomable of purpose, like the vast and 
mighty Ocean whose unknown waters hide from human 


eyes many a marvel and many a secret ; strong in his re- 
solve and unshaken, even as the mighty Himalayas, the 
Monarch of Mountains, whose roots run into the very 
heart of the Earth and whose proud head pierces the blue 
vaults of the Empyrean ; of valor and prowess like unto 
the Almighty ; of sweet presence and charming, even as 
the Queen of Night, the dispeller of darkness ; terrible in 
his wrath and all-consuming, not unlike the Fire that 
destroys the worlds at the close of the Great Day, but 
withal patient and enduring, even as Mother Earth; a 
great Giver, even as Kub6r&, the Lord of Wealth ; he is 
Truth and Justice, in human mould as it were. 

*' And J)asaratha, the Lord of men, yielding to the oft- 
repeated prayers of his subjects, set his heart upon making 
over his kingdom to R&ma, and along with it the cares of 
state R&ma, the living example of every virtue, R&rna, 
of irresistible might, R&ma, the firstborn of his sons, 
Rftma, fitted by nature and education to be the best and 
brightest ornament to a throne, R&rna, in whose heart 
the welfare and happiness of his subjects occupies the 
foremost place. 

"Now, Kaik6yi, the best beloved of his wives, viewed 
with a troubled heart and envious eye, the gorgeous 
preparations that were on foot towards the installation of 
R&ina. Long, long ago, during a fierce battle with the 
Asuras, she had saved the king's life at the peril of her 
own ; and he, in a transport of gratitude, had allowed her 
to ask of him any boon she would. Now was her time ; 
and she said to the fond king ' Exile R&ma to the forest 
and crown Bharata in his place.' 

" Dasaratha never went back upon his word ; for, was 
he not the proud descendant of the mighty monarchs of 
the Solar Race, who cheerfully sacrificed at the altar of 
Truth wife and child, wealth and kingdom, life and limb, 
nay, their very hopes here and hereafter, and deemed 
themselves happy in being allowed to do so ? He sent 
R&rna away to the wild forests and with him his own life 


and happiness ; for, B&ma was the joy of his old age and 
the pride of his heart* 

" But K&ma, the brightest example of filial reverence, 
whom, alone and unaided, the world's hosts embattled 
dare not face, cheerfully gave up the crown that was his 
by right and betook himself to the forests, out of deference 
to his father's wishes and out of a desire to gladden the 
heart of his mother KaikSyi ; had they not his word for it ? 

" And Lakshmana, the favourite brother of R&ma, 
cheerfully accompanied him to the woods, setting to all 
the world a rare example of fraternal affection ; he was 
ever a source of joy to his worthy mother, Sumitra, who 
sent him after B&ma, with the memorable words, ' Hence- 
forth, Rma is unto you a father and SStA, your loving 
mother; the pathless woods are your royal home in 
Ay6dhy& ; and may all good go with you.' 

" As the star E6hinl ever follows her Lord, the Moon, 
even so did Sit& accompany her husband to the wild 
woods. Of Janaka's royal race she came, and was the 
fairest and best of the daughters of the earth. Dearer 
unto her lord than his very life, she lived in him and but 
for him. For, was she not his own energy, the Great 
Illusion, come down on earth to aid him in his great 

u The sad king and his sadder subjects followed him a 
long way. At Sringav^ra, on the banks of the Gang&, 
R&ma came upon a dear friend of his, Guha, the king of 
the wild foresters, and bade his charioteer Sumantra go 
back to his father. 

u Then, guided by him, they travelled over many a 
trackless forest, and forded many a foaming torrent, until 
they halted at the hermitage of the saintly Bharadv&ja, 
who directed them further on to Chitrakftta's hill. There 
the brothers built for themselves a charming cottage and 
led a calm and peaceful life in the pleasant woods, happy 
even as are the gods and the Gandharvas. 


" Meanwhile the unhappy father, stricken even unto 
death at being parted from the son of his heart, passed 
away in an agony of grief, calling upon his darling K&ma, 
and took his place in the Mansions of the Blessed. There- 
upon Vasishtha and the other counsellors of Dasaratha 
tried their very best to induce Bharata to accept the vacant 
throne. But he, mighty of his arms and with his heart 
ever devoted to R&ma, would not even hear of it. He 
was on his way to the Koyal exile to beg him to come 
back and rule over his people. 

" Soon he carne upon the high-souled One in his forest 
home ; and to him of irresistible valor, thus spoke 
Bharata in all humility and reverence. 4 Now that our 
father is no more, yours is the crown, yours the kingdom ; 
and who knows, better than yourself, that a younger 
brother has no claim to the throne before his elder, best 
fitted to adorn it ? Come back and be king over us/ 

Thus spake he ; but all in vain, for the other felt happier 
among his woods and streams, and chose the path his 
fathers trod before him, the path of honor and fame. 
The kingdom was his by right and by might ; but he 
had given his word to his royal sire, and was he the 
man to go back upon it? Gently, but firmly, he persuaded 
Bharata to go back to AyodhyA/, but, at his earnest 
prayer, gave him his sandals, thrice holy with the touch 
of his feet visible representatives of the rightful king and 
the invisible source of Bharata' s wise government and the 
welfare of his kingdom. Had not the world a glimpse of 
their greatness in the matter of Ahaly&? 'Twice seven 
years hence will I meet you here. Doubt not, ' were the 
words that fell upon the ears of the disappointed Bharata 
as he wended his sorrowful way back not to Ay6dhy& 
to Nandigr&ma, from where, as Eegent of the Eoyal 
Sandals, he looked after the affairs of the kingdom, living 
the life of a hermit, his heart with B&rna and his eyes 
ever turned along the road that should bring his brother 
back to him. 


" Then, it occurred to R&ma, that at Chitraktita he was 
easily accessible to his friends and subjects ; so he re- 
solved to penetrate into the heart of the wild Pandaka 
forest. True, it was a rough life and utterly unmeet 
for such as were brought up in the lap of royal luxury and 
ease. But what was it to him ? Was not his word gone 
forth ? Were not his mind and senses under perfect 
control ? He never lacked anything, in his royal palace 
at AyodhyA, or in the rough ways of the forest. 

" So, with his faculties all on the alert, he plunged into 
the depths of the interminable woods and his eyes acquired 
a new light and charm at the prospect of approaching 
battle with the dread Rakshasas. 

" First and foremost of those that fell by his hand was 
the fierce Rfikshasa, Viradha. 

" Thereupon, the World-honored paid his lowly 
respects to Sarabhanga, Sutlkshna, Agastya, and his 
brother , and from Agastya he received, with a glad heart, 
the mighty bow loft with him by Indra, a goodly sword and 
two quivers that bore an inexhaustible supply of arrows. 

" And unto R&ma, who passed his days in the sweet 
company of the holy sages, came countless ascetics that 
had made Dandaka their home. Of fiery energy were 
they and radiant in their spiritual glory, but withal they 
prayed him to free them from the terrors and persecutions 
of the fierce Rakshasas and the lawless Asuras that infested 
the dark depths of Dandaka. Thereupon, K&nia gave 
them his plighted word to root out the wicked ones slowly, 
but surely, whenever a favourable chance 

" And it so came to pass, that a 
by name, came upon him in his 
away mutilated and disgraced. Jans 
and she could, by her powers of illi 
she chose. Fired thereto by the sight \ 
disfigured and insulted and more so 
her brothers, Khara and pftshana and 


them, rushed at R&ma and hemmed him round with their 
fierce hosts ; but, of the fourteen thousand terrible 
R&kshasas that marched forth to battle that woeful day, 
not one survived to tell the tale. One and all, they lay 
low on the field of Death, despatched to the Mansions 
of the Blessed by the fiery arrows of the solitary wariior. 

" It was not long before the news reached R&vana, who, 
beside himself with rage at the total annihilation of his 
kinsmen and at the insult put upon him, besought the 
assistance of M&rtcha in aiding him to accomplish his 
fiendish scheme of revenge. Long and earnestly did 
M&rlcha seek to dissuade him from his fell purpose. 
' Knowest thou not thou art but a gram of dust before the 
Great One ? Draw not, rny Lord, upon thy head, the 
wrath of such as he.' But R&vana, driven thereto by 
resistless Fate, spurned aside the well-meant advice of 
his fnend, and forced M&richa, on pain of death, to 
accompany him to the hermitage of the royal exiles. 

" There R&vana used his friend to decoy the brothers 
far, far off from their cottage and in their absence, 
made away with the spouse of RA,ma, and conveyed herto 
his island-home in Lanka, wounding unto death, Jatayu, 
the Vulture-king, who defended her with the last drop of 
his blood. 

" The brothers came back soon enough and found that 
' their house was left unto them desolate ' ; for Sita was not 
there. After a while, they came upon Jatayu, who would 
not yield up his life before he had acquainted Rama with 
the cruel outrage done him. Then, mighty grief over- 
came Rma, and like unto one who had taken leave of 
his senses, he filled the woods around with heart-rending 
cries and piteous lamentations. But, mastering himself 
with a supreme effort, he consigned to the flames the 
mortal remains of the valiant Jatayu, faithful unto death, 
and plunged into the deep woods in search of Sita. 

" By and by, they fell in with a fierce Rakshasa, Ka- 
bandha by name, hideously deformed, and frightful to 


behold. Him, B&ina slew and his vast bulk threw into 
the fire ; and the demon, purified of his sins by the touch 
of the Holy One, resumed his place among the Gandhar- 
vas. But, ere his departure, he informed B&ina of a 
woman-ascetic that lived not far off, Sabari by name, well 
versed in the mysteries of pharma and a worthy exponent 
thereof. ' Go unto her, my Lord ' prayed Kabandha ; 
and unto her hermitage Rma took his weary way. He 
had come down on Earth to destroy the evil forces that 
barred the path of his devotees to his feet and radiant 
looked he in the pride of his youth and might. Warm 
welcome did Sabari extend unto Rama ; and directed by 
her, he reached the shores of Lake Pamp&. 

" There he fell in with Hanum&n, a monkey, who 
introduced him to his master Sugrlva. And R&ma re- 
lated unto him all his griefs and all his misfortunes ; 
whereat, Sugriva's heart was glad, in that heaven sent 
him a companion in misery, whose valor and prowess 
seemed irresistible. The two swore eternal friendship 
and faithful, while the God of Fire bore witness to it. 

" ' How did this come about ? ' asked R&ma of his 
newly-made friend l the blood-feud between you and your 
brother?'; and Sugriva acquainted him with the sad story. 
* Now, will I slay you that brother of thine, even VAli,' 
cried out R&ma ; and he swore it by a mighty oath. Then 
Sugriva spoke to him of the unequalled strength of V&li 
and his fierce valor, the terror of gods and men, Asuras and 
BAkshasas ; and half in jest, he cast his eyes upon a huge 
skeleton that lay hard by and said, l This was once 
Pundubhi, the Asura ; and Vli kicked it here from 
Kishkindha, where he slew the braggart ' A curious 
smile played over the features of Rma a smile of pity 
at Sugrtva's distrust of his might and at the trivial 
task set upon him to test it ; and he gave it a light 
kick with his toe that sent it flying twenty leagues off. 
Then, to make assurance doubly sure, he loosened a shaft 
from his bow, that cleft seven towering S&la trees, pierced 


through a mighty mountain beyond, and stayed not its 
course until it ran through the seven regions beneath the 
Earth and came back to its master. 

" Sugriva doubted no more ; his eyes were opened and 
his spirits rose ; and with a light heart and joyful mien, 
he took his way to the Kishkindha cave, and the princes 
along with him. Stationing himself before it, he gave 
forth from his broad and tawny chest a leonine roar that 
shook the hills around. Thereat, Vali rushed out in mad 
fury, but was stayed by his wife T&ra, whose fears he 
managed to allay. And in the fierce tight that ensued, 
Rama's shaft cleft his mighty heart in twain. Thus did 
Rama fulfil his promise to Sugriva, and seat the weary 
exile on his brother's throne. 

"In hot haste did Sugriva send for all the monkeys 
under the Sun and for their chiefs, and despatched them 
North and South, East and West, in search of Sita. 

" Of those that proceeded South, was Hanuruan, the 
pride and glory of his race He heard from Sampati, the 
Vulture, that Sita was in Lanka, held there in durance 
vile by the infamous R&vana ; and with a tremendous leap, 
he vaulted sheer over the two hundred leagues of roaring 
waters that lay between. 

" Landing on the sea-girt isle where the dread Havana 
held his royal sway, he came upon Sita in the Asoka 
grove, her heart far away over the wide waters and with 
her lord. With her he had speech, and showed unto her 
his credentials, the ring given him by her lord. He 
related unto her all that befell Rama meanwhile. ' Grieve 
not, noble lady,' be exclaimed, 'your lord spares no 
pains to come to you ; soon, sooner than you think, will 
you see him here.' And half in sport, he shattered to 
pieces the huge ornamental gateway of that vast pleasure- 

"Thereat, came against him, five mighty captains of 
hosts, and close upon their heels, seven sons of counsellors, 
whom he made short work of ; then, Aksha, the valiant 


son of R&vana, whom he reduced to a shapeless mass ; 
and in the end, allowed himself to be bound by the Brah- 
m&stra of Tndrajit. Thanks to the boon conferred on 
him by the Lotus-born One, he freed himself therefrom ; 
but, desirous to see R&vana face to face and have speech 
with him, he chose to appear as if still in bonds, and 
calmly put up with the insults of his captors, who 
dragged him in triumph before their lord. His ruse was 
successful ; he had the pleasure of bearding the lion in his 
den and failed not to give him a piece of his mind and 
that freely. He then burnt the town with hostile flame, 
all except where S!ta sat and flew back on the wings of 
speed to carry the welcome tidings to the expectant ears 
of his master. Soon stood he before the high-souled One, 
went round him reverently and cried out, ' Found ! These 
eyes were erstwhile blessed with the sight of my mother, 
Site. 1 

" The princes lost no time in reaching the shores of the 
dark Ocean and along with them Sugriva and his countless 
hosts. Rrna called upon the Lord of Waters to come 
unto him, but he came not ; whereat he was wroth and 
with his shafts, bright and tierce as the noonday Sun, he 
shook the mighty Ocean to its very depths. Then the heart 
of the Monarch of the Deep quaked within him , he laid his 
head at the feet of Rama and implored pardon. And at 
his advice, Rama caused the monkey chief, Nala, to lay 
a bridge across the fathomless waters. Over it they 
crossed to the island-home of Rvana and him did R&ma 
slay in dire battle. 

Now was Sita once more his own. But, sad was his 
heart and cruel shame held him back ; for, had she not 
dwelt with the Rakshasa, ever so many months ? Would 
not the cruel World point its finger of scorn at him and 
cry, ' Lo ! he has taken her back unto him ; and the vile 
R&vana laid his unclean hands on her and had her with 
him long enough.' So, he spoke to her bitter words and 
sharp, in the hearing of the assembled hosts. And, cut 


to the heart, Slta, chaste as Chastity and pure as driven 
snow, brooked it not, but consigned her fair body unto 
the affrighted flames. The God of Fire bore her back in 
hot haste and swore her spotless and unsullied, by all he 
held sacred. Gladness filled the heart of B&ina and his 
face shone bright ; the three worlds rejoiced thereat, 
animate and inanimate, men and gods, saints and sages, 
and lauded to the skies the glorious deed of Eama. 
Vibhlshana, the brother of Rvana, was crowned king of 
Lanka in his place ; and, his stupendous work accom- 
plished, Emma's heart was relieved of a load of anxiety 
and danced with joy. The Gods, one and all, showered 
their choicest boons upon him, through which he raised 
to life his faithful monkeys that fell m battle. 

" Then, with his friends and followers, did he turn his 
face towards A.y6dhya, and was conveyed thereto in the 
swift-coursing Pushpaka, the magic air-car of Kubdra. 
Making a halt at the hermitage of the holy Bharadv^ja, 
he sent Hanuman before him to announce his return to 
his brother Bharata. After a while, he resumed his 
journey and beguiling the way by recounting his adven- 
tures in the wild woods, soon reached Nandigr&ma." 

u There the brothers put away the matted locks and 
lowly habiliments of recluses ; and It&rna, pure and 
stainless, welcomed Sita to his heart and took his place 
upon his father's throne. 

" Under his benign rule, the people are rich in flocks and 
herds. Their homes resound with the joyous laughter of 
happy children. Famine and disease are strangers to the 
land. Each order of society goes through its round of 
duties cheerfully and lacks not the means to do it. 
Their lives know no calamity, public or private. No 
one suffers the pangs of hunger nor eats his heart out 
with grief. His subjects are rich in all the joys that 
boundless wealth can give and are blessed with perfect 
health and sweet content. No father is doomed to see 
his son die before his eyes. Wives never outlive their 


husbands nor suffer the cruel shame of widowhood, but 
pass their days in loving service to their lords. His 
subjects are immune from all perils through wind or wave, 
fire or fever. Thieves and robbers, hunger and want, are 
things unknown during the rule of R&ma. Town and 
hamlet, village and city, are amply rich in corn and 
wealth. And all are as happy and content as in the 
Krlta yuga, the Golden Age of the world. 
" Horse-sacrifices without number will he perform, 
at which he will give away to Br&hamanas vast quanti- 
ties of gold and gems and countless heads of cattle. 
Hundreds and thousands of royal houses will he found, 
such as Kamarftpa, Knyakubja, and others too numerous 
to mention. He will see that the four orders of society 
are secured in their rights and privileges and discharge 
their duties to their very best. The years of B&ma's 
reign on earth are ten thousand and hundreds ten. And 
then, in the fulness of time, will he go back to his seat m 
the highest Heavens. 

This record of Rama's life purifies the heart of men, 
destroys their sins and confers supreme merit. Hence 
the wise hold it in equal reverence with the Holy Writ ; 
and he who reads it with a devout heart, is freed from 
sin of every kind. A long and happy life is his portion in 
the world of men ; and when he goes away from it, he is 
a welcome guest in the World of G-ods and is held in high 
honor among them, yea, his kith and kin. 

" Should a Brhmana read it, gift of speech is his 
meed, and wisdom equalled by none. Should one of the 
Warrior race read it, the wide Earth and all it contains 
owns his sway. Should a Vaisya read it, merchant- 
princes pay homage to him , nay, should a Sfidra happen 
to hear it read, he shall win honor and glory among his 



He ceased; and V&hnlki, the soul of righteousness, list* 
ened in awe and reverence ; himself a speaker of no 
mean ability, he spoke to N&rada out of a full heart* 
U O! thou of inscrutable might! well hast thou spoken 
and marvellously ; " and his disciples were not behind him 
in their glowing praises of the Divine Sage. 

Later on, when Nkrada rose to go, VAlmlki offered unto 
him reverent worship. 

" Have I your leave to go *> " said Narada. 

u As my lord willeth," replied the grateful host , and 
the wise One resumed his aerial course towards the 
Heavenly Spheres. 

V&lruiki spent an hour or two in his cottage, after his 
guest left it, his thoughts absorbed in the eventful con- 
versation of the morn. All at once he found that it was 
high time for the midday bath and started for the lovely 
not far remote from the Ganga. 

The crystal waters of the murmuring brook caught his 
heart and turning to the faithful disciple that waited 
upon him, he exclaimed, tk Seest thou yon stream, 
Bharadvkja, the pebbly beach carpeted with soft -sand 
right up to the water's edge, with pleasant fords and neat ? 
The smooth pellucid waters remind me of the hearts of 
good men, calm and unruffled. This is a pure spot and 
holy ; put down thy waier jar here and hand me my 
bathing-dress of bark, for, here will I bathe. True, the 
sacred Gang& is not far off ; but Tamas& is so charming 
to-day, and I fear we are already behind time for the 
midday prayers." 


The disciple bowed in revereat assent and with a ready 
hand offered unto his master his dress of bark ; for, he 
regarded himself as supremely blessed in being allowed to 
serve the Holy One. Valmlki took it from him and with 
his senses under restraint, penetrated into the dark woods 
around, seeking for a suitable spot to bathe and meditate 
upon the Lord of All. 

Not far from him, a pair of curlews, cock and hen, were 
disporting themselves merrily, in the best of health and 
spirits, singing sweetly the while ; when, all at once, a 
fowler, the relentless foe of every innocent bird and beast, 
sent his arrow right into the heart of the cock, all ignoring 
the presence of the Holy One who was looking on. Down 
fell the fated bird, at the feet, as it were, of the horrified 
Valmlki and wallowed m its life-blood. With crest of 
golden hue and wings outspread, it was taken all un- 
awares, mad with love and in the very act of enjoying 
itself with its mate. And at the sight of her lord and 
love, now rolling in the dust in the agonies of death, 
the wretched hen, shrieked a long and bitter cry, rendered 
all the more so, in that the flames of her love were as 
yet unquenched. 

Valmlki, the soul of boundless compassion and justice, 
was filled with indescribable pity towards the poor hen, 
now hopelessly disconsolate. " A cruel act this and 
unnatural," cried he, " even fora hardened hunter. How 
could one have the heart to strike to death a poor bird, 
and that in the sweet embraces of love, with the fervent 
kisses of its mate still warm on its lips ?" 

The poor victim before his eyes roused the self-con- 
tained sage to ungovernable wrath and from his uncon- 
scious lips shot forth a mighty curse. 

" Hapless wretch ! may'st thou, for long years to come, 
never find a spot in this wide world to rest thy weary 
head. Didst thou not slay a lovely and harmless curlew, 
that was blind with passion and in the very arms of his 

3348 - 3 


He spoke and paused ; a dire misgiving came over his 
heart and he said to himself. " Passing strange ! How 
came I, of subdued passions and serene heart, to speak 
words of such dread import, that rob me of my hard- 
earned spiritual might ?" 

But, even as he brooded over it, a light broke upon his 
mind and he exclaimed to Bharadvaja. "My heart was 
now wrung with pity and grief at the miserable fate that 
overtook the poor bird, when, these wild words of doom 
broke out from my unconscious lips ; but lo ! they are 
arranged in equal lines ot even feet, perfect and flawless, 
admirably adapted to be sung or played. Well, this 
shall confer undying fame on me and never shall it 
prove otherwise." 

Bharadvaja listened to him in awe and wonder the Holy 
One, whose powers for good or evil were almost boundless 
and softly repeated the words to himself, whereat his 
master was mightily pleased. 

Then Valmiki had his lojig delayed bath and went 
through his prayers. All slowly he wended his way back 
to the hermitage, his thoughts still engrossed with his 
prophetic words, the marvellous verse that rose unbidden 
to his lips and bore a terrible curse in its bosom. 
Bharadvaja, profoundly learned, yet lowly of heart, fol- 
lowed him at an humble distance with the water-jar on his 
shoulders, the pitcher brimming over with the pure fresh 
waters of the rill. Soon they reached the hermitage and 
the master discoursed to his disciples awhile on themes 
high and holy ; but his thoughts were far away and with 
his utterance of the morning. 

Then there came unto him in his calm retreat, the Four- 
faced One, Brahma, Father of the Earth and the Skies, 
the Supreme Ruler and Fashioner of countless systems. 
True, he could, from his seat on high, cause the holy 
record of R&rn&'s deeds to reach the ears and the hearts 
of men ; but, for certain reasons of his own, he chose the 


fortunate V&lmiki as a fitting instrument of that grand 
service to Humanity. 

Up sprang V&lmlki in wondering awe to welcome his 
Divine Guest of radiant presence ; laid his head at his feet 
and duly offered unto him the rites of hospitality in all 
humility and reverence. 

The Omniscient One accepted the seat of honor offered 
him, made kind enquiries about the welfare of his host 
and bade him sit nigh, which he did. But his thoughts 
ever ran upon the strange events of the day. 

" Alas ! " said he to himself, " how did the wretch bring 
himself to harm the innocent things, so sweet of voice and 
so entirely absorbed in their love as to be oblivious to 
everything around ? He shrank not from the cruel deed 
and had caused me to lose my temper and commit an act 
of folly that had robbed me of my haid-won merit." 

And he went on unconsciously repeating to himself 
the strange words that escaped his lips that eventful 

A curious smile lit the features of the Lotus -born One, 
a smile of kindly pity in that the sage had not as yet 
divined the source of his inspiration. 

" Know you not " said he, in accents of liquid melody 
" that it was at my direction that Sarasvatl, the Goddess 
of Speech, uttered through your lips the seeming curse ? 
The words that cause your innocent heart a world of 
anxiety shall bring unto you boundless fame. Doubt no 
more, but give unto the world the story of Rama, even 
as you have heard it from my son Narada. What nobler 
subject for your poem than Sri Ramachandra, the Divine 
hero, the soul of righteousness, the perfect embodiment 
of all that is good and great and the director of men's 
thoughts, words, deeds in the light of their Karma ? 

" Nothing that relates to any of the actors in that great 
world-drama shall escape thy all-seeing eye R&ma, 
Lakshmana, Slt&, men and monkeys, gods and Eakshasas, 


their acts, their words, nay their very thoughts known or 
secret. Nothing that comes out of your mouth, consci- 
ously or otherwise, shall prove othei than true. Sing thou 
a poem that shall charm away the hearts of men, perfect 
in its rhythm and melodious in its flow. The cloud-cap- 
ped mountains, the swift-coursing rivers, and all created 
things shall pass away and be as naught. But your noble 
song shall outlive them and never fade from the hearts 
of men, And as long as the record of B&ma's life holds 
sway over the hearts of men, so long shall you sit by me 
in iny hightest heaven." He spoke and was seen no 
more among them, 

And the sage sat still in hushed awe and silent amaze, 
and his disciples along with him , then all at once they 
broke forth into melodious song, reciting again and again 
the sweet verse ' M&nishada,' perfect in rhythm and 
faultless in metre ; and so sung and recited by those 
disciples of his, grown giey in sacred lore, its fame grew 
apace in the world of men. 

" Now" said Valinlki 4 ' shall I sing the Life of Rama, 
yea, the whole of it, in such verses as these." 

Long and deeply did he ponder over it and gave to a 
grateful world the Grand Epic. Sung in diverse measures ; 
of even feet and accents , grand ID its style and chaste and 
polished in its diction ; simple, yet profoundly suggestive , 
the mighty genius of the immortal Vftlinlki has pre- 
served for all Eternity the glorious deeds of the Divine 
Man, Sri Eamachandra, in countless verses as beautiful 
and perfect as the one that was spoken through his lips by 
the Goddess of Speech. Listen ye to the noble poem 
1 The Fall of Havana,' sung by the holy sage who gave 
unto posterity the Life of the noblest of men, R&ghava. 
No defect of style or idiom, grammar or diction mars its 
perfect beauty. Sweet and melodious of flow, the sound 
is a perfect echo to the sense. 



V&lmlki, the soul of righteousness, had from N&rada but 
a bare outline of the life and deeds of Sri Ramaohandra 
of mighty intellect a wonderful narrative, truly, in that 
it realises the Purush&rthas for those that hear it 
recited. But he did not stop there ; he would know it 
more fully, in all its details and applied himself to the 

Duly purifying himself by sipping consecrated water, 
he took his seat on the sacred grass spread with their 
ends towards the East. He reverenced in spirit his 
Divine Teacher and began his work, aided therein by the 
superhuman powers conferred on him by Brahma. 

Then there unfolded themselves before his inner eye, 
picture after picture of old times and events Rama, 
Lakshmana and Slt&, Dasaratha, his queens and his 
subjects, as they lived and moved, laughed or cried ; their 
joys and griefs ; their friendships and enmities , whatever 
befell Rima, Lakshmana and Slta, while they sojourned 
in the wild woods and later on ; all these and much more 
did he see, plain and clear, perfect down to the minutest 
details, even as a fruit within his finger's clasp. Every- 
thing was even as N&rada had related it to him. His face 
and form shone bright as he Jost himself m the delightful 
contemplation of the divine perfections of Sri R&ma , with 
the scenes of his life before his eyes, he set himself to 
compose the Grand Epic, the R&m&yana. The shores of 
the Ocean are strewed with shells, seaweed and such like 
trifles thrown up from its bosom ; but in its mighty depths 
lie concealed from human view priceless treasures and rare. 
Even so, of the four aims of life, Pleasure and Wealth lie 
on its surface, while J)harma and M6ksha rest at the 


bottom. The music of the verses arrests the ear, while the 
sense charms the heart; and it proclaims for all time, to 
the devout soul, the countless glories of the Supreme One, 
the end and aim of all World-scriptures. 

In the first six books of his immortal Epic, V&lmiki 
describes the coming down into our mortal world of the 
Lord Vishnu, in merciful response to the earnest prayers 
of the Shining Ones ; his heroic worth ; his wonderful 
strength and fortitude , his kindness to every living being, 
his unequalled popularity ; his sweet patience that nothing 
can ruffle ; his gentleness and his constant truth , many 
a tale and legend old from the lips of Visvmitra, when 
the princes sojourned with him; how at Janaka's royal 
hall Rama broke to pieces the mighty bow of Mahadeva, 
that none could bend ; the marriage of the sons of 
Dasaratha ; the high talk between Sri Eama and Rama of 
the Axe. 

The rare excellences of Kama that eminently fitted him 
for the office of Prince-Regent ; the gorgeous preparations 
made by JJasaratha for his coronation ; how the black- 
hearted Kaikeyi frustrated it and caused R&ma to be 
exiled to the forest ; the poignant grief of l>asaratha and 
his death in consequence ; the heart-rending scene when 
Rma took leave of the people ; how he went away 
un perceived from among those that followed him a long 
way ; how he met GKiha on the bank of Gang& and 
persuaded his charioteer Sumantra to return to Ayodhy& ; 
how they crossed the river and sought Bharadvaja in his 
forest abode ; how, through his directions, Rama had a 
lovely cottage built on the sides of Chitrakuta and spent 
happy days , how Bharata came upon him there and 
earnestly prayed him to come back unto his own ; how he 
received the sad news of his father's death and offered 
libations of water unto his manes ; how he gave his sandals 
unto Bharata and prevailed upon him to go back ; how 
Bharata had them crowned and ruled in their name at 


How Rma penetrated thereafter into the dark depths 
of Pandaka and slew Virdha ; how they came unto the 
hermitage of Anasftya, who presented Slta, with a sandal 
paste and unguents of rare virtue ; how Rama, paid his 
respects to Sarabhanga, Agastya, Sutlkshna and Jat&yu 
and took up his abode at Pachhavatl ; how the Rakshasl 
SftrpanakM came upon them there and how Lakshmana 
mutilated her of her nose and ears ; how he slew, m fierce 
fight, Khara, pftshana and Trisiras that came to avenge 
her , how R&vana came over from Lanka at the news, 
decoyed Rarna and Lakshmana through the wily Marlcha 
and carried away Slta , how Rama slew Marlcha and 
raved at the loss of his wife ; the death of Jat&yus ; how 
the brothers came upon Kabandha who directed them 
unto Sabarl, how they reached the shores of the Lake 
Parnpa and from there proceeded to the hill of Rishya- 
muka, where they made the acquaintance of Sugrlva ; 
how RJma sware friendship with him and convinced him 
of his might ; how Sugrlva fought his brother V&li ; how 
Rama slew the latter during the combat ; the wild laments 
of T&ra ; the installation of Sugrlva ; R&ma's sojourn at 
the Prasravana hill during the rains ; how his wrath 
blazed forth against Sugrlva, who thereupon hastened to 
gather his countless hosts and despatched them to all 
quarters of the Earth, with minute description of every 
part of the same ; how Rama entrusted Hanuman with 
his Signet Ring ; how the monkeys lost their way into 
the cave of Riksha , how they resolved to starve them- 
selves to death ; their meeting with Sampati, the vulture, 
upon whose information, Hanum&n took a leap across the 
sea, from the Mahendra mountains ; how he met Main&ka 
on his way and slew Sirnhik& ; how he landed at nightfall 
on Mount Malaya, in Lanka, and took counsel with 
himself , how he came upon R&vana sleeping in his aerial 
car, Pushpaka, and upon his wives in the drinking-saloon ; 
how he sought out Slta in the As6ka grove and gave her 
R&ma's token ; how Rvana persecuted her with his love ; 


how the R&kshasl women threatened Slt&; how JrijatA 
related unto her the dream she had ; how Hanum&n 
received from Slt& her crest-jewel and destroyed the grove ; 
how the affrighted women-guards took up the news to 
B&vana; how Hanum&n slew the hosts sent against him 
and became a willing captive to the Brahm&stra of Jndrajit ; 
how he set the city on fire and roared for very joy ; how 
he rejoined his companions and destroyed the honey-grove ; 
bow he gave his lady's token to R&ma and consoled him; 
how EAma proceeded with his forces to the shores of he 
ocean ; how he promised refuge unto Vibhishana ; how he 
caused Nala, the monkey, to throw a bridge across the 
mighty deep and led his hosts over it to Lankk's isle ; 
how he laid siege to it at night and aided therein by the 
counsels of Viblshana, laid low in fierce battle Indrajit, 
Kumbakharna, R&vana and the other R&kshasa heioes; 
how he took back Slt and had Vibhishana ci owned as 
king of Lank&; how he went back to Ayodhy& in the 
magic car, Pushpaka, and met his brother Bharata on the 
way ; and how he was crowned king and sent back to 
their homes his countless friends and allies that came to 
the capital to be present on the happy occasion. 

And in the Uttarakanda has the poet described the 
coming years of B&ma ; his golden rule ; how he cast 
away his queen to avoid popular censure , and everything 
that was to befall him in the unknown future. 



V&lmlki, the prince of poets, composed the Life of 
B&m&, when he was reigning at Ayodhya, after his 
terrible wars with R&vana ; and the Seer's eye bestowed 
on him by the Lotus-born One, aided him in that grand 
work of flawless diction. 

The seven cantos are divided into 500 chapters, and 
contain 24,000 verses, (the Uttarakancia included). f lhe 
Holy One, out of his matchless wisdom, included in it 
every thing that befell B&ma in the distant past or was to 
in the remote future. 

Having brought the tale to an end, he cast about for 
some one who would commit it to memory and carry it to 
the ears of men. As he thus mused and prayed to the 
Giver of all good to send him one who would accomplish 
his purpose, there came unto him two disciples, Kusa and 
Lava by name, clad in the garb of hermits, but princes by 
birth, and reverently touched his feet. 

The twins had been brought up under his watchful 
care and were dear unto his heart ; of sweet voice and 
melodious, they were gifted with a marvellous faculty of 
retentiveness , thorough masters of the Holy Writ and its 
branches, they were skilled in every art and science, lay 
or clerical , steadfast in righteousness and strong of heart, 
they were chosen by Valmlki as fit instruments of his 
noble purpose and unto these he taught his Great Epic, 
which he named c K&m&yana ' or 4 Slt Chantra ' or 
' Paulastya Vadha.' a mighty repository of the priceless 
wisdom enshrined in the V6das. Sweet to recite and 
sweeter to sing, it gives perfect expression to every 
sentiment that moves the human breast love, heroism, 
disgust, terror, pathos, wonder, mirth, calm, and fear. 

3348 4 


r l hey stored it within their hearts and in obedience to 
the dictates of their master, sang it to large concourses 
of Brahrnanas and warriors, sages and saints, in the three 
kinds of measure and to the sweet accompaniment of 
musical instruments. Divinely skilled m the science and 
art of song, golden-throated, equally adept at every musical 
instrument, they were thoroughly conversant with the 
origin and nature of notes, scales and pitches, and with 
the complex science of expression. Of surpassing love- 
liness, faultless in form and feature, they were the living 
counterparts of Sri B&machandra himself. 

Through many a land they travelled and sang to many 
an audience; and on one occasion, before the sages that 
were enjoying their well-earned rest during the intervals 
of the Horse-sacrifice celebrated by Kama. With streaming 
eyes and ravished hearts did the Holy Ones listen to the 
recital and roused to the highest pitch of admiration, 
applauded them to the echo. Strangers to guile and envy, 
the simple souls praised in no mean terms the noble 
poem, the gifted author and the incomparable singers. 

" What charming music ! what sweetness and melody of 
verse ! And then, the vividness of narration ! We seem to 
live aud move among old times and scenes long gone by." 

The brothers themselves seemed to feel the sacred 
thirst of fame and excelling their previous efforts, they 
took their highest pitch and sang away the hearts of the 
listeners ; for, the sound was an echo to the sense. And 
one among them rose up and made the singers a present 
of his waterpot ; and another, no mean connoissieur of the 
noble art of poetry and music, gave them his hermit dress 
of bark. 

Thus, many a time and oft, did these boys recite it in 
crowded halls and broad streets, in sacred groves and 
sacrificial grounds * 

" A rare and noble epic this, the Bam&yana " cried 
the hearers " of honeyed verses and faultless diction, 


beautifully adapted to music, vocal or instrumental and 
eharmmg to hear , begun and finished according to the 
best canons of the art, the most exacting critic cannot 
praise it too highly ; the first of its kind and an unap- 
proachable ideal for all time to come ; the best model for 
all future poets , the thrice-distilled Essence of the Holy 
Scriptures , the surest giver of health and happiness, 
length of years and prosperity, to all who read or listen 
to it. And proficients as ye are in every style of music, 
marvellously have ye sung it." 

It chanced one day that Bharata, the brother of Eama, 
heard them recite and failed not to inform the king of 
it. Kaghava, the mightiest of men, invited the noble twins 
to the palace and showed unto them due respect ; seated 
on the gem-encrusted throne of gold brought down by his 
sire from the high heaven of Indra and surrounded by his 
loving brothers and faithful ministers, he gazed long and 
fondly on the boys who were the exact images of himself 
and exclaimed to his wondering brothers. " Mark you 
the radiant glory that plays around them ? Liker Gods 
than men ! And the poem they recite, how wonderful in 
its suggestiveness ' Listen we to it ! " 

And putting away all cares from his heart, he prepared 
himself to listen and directed the boys to commence. 
With voices of perfect accord and entrancing sweet- 
ness, faultless in note and measure, the brothers sang 
in melodious strains the following poem ; and such the 
perfectness of expression and delicacy of execution, that 
the hearers followed them with their hearts and ears , 
and such the marvellous power of their song, that an 
indescribable sense of bliss gradually stole over them and 
pervaded their frame and every sense and faculty of 
theirs strange, overpowering and almost painful in its 

Then R&ma addressed himself to those around him 
and said " Behold these young asceties, of kingly form 
and mien ! Bare singers they are and of mighty spiritual 

28 B AL AK AgD A 

energy withal. And the noble poetn they recite, how 
sweet and solacing to my wounded heart, reft of my 
beloved ! Fail not to accord it attention meet." 

The boy-hermits, thus directed by the World-honored, 
set about to sing the Epic, in the M&rgi style of music ; 
the soul-entrancing strains failed not to draw B&ina from 
his lofty throne, to take his seat among the audience 
that he might better hear the gifted twins. Soon was he 
lost to everything around him and lived and moved but 
in the no distant past. 



From the far-off times of Manu, the Divine Ruler, the 
mighty kings of the line of Ikshwaku held victorious and 
undisputed sway over the broad Earth and the seven 
islands that guard it around. 

Of their race came king Sagara, at whose high command 
was dug the Ocean, dark and deep, by his sixty thousand 
sons that thronged around him as he inarched along. 

And this grand Epic, the R&mayana, of immortal fame, 
smgr the lives and deedb ot those mighty men of old. 
The devout reader thereof secures the four Aims of Life 
Righteousness, Wealth, Happiness and Liberation. 
So gi\e ear unto it with hearts free from Envy's taint. 

The broad realms of Kosala extend far away on either 
banks of the Sarayft. Rich in the wealth of flocks and 
herds, fertile fields and broad pastures, it forms the happy 
home of countless millions 

And of that kingdom is Ayodhya the capital, famed 
of old through all the w r orlds, and fashioned in ages past 
by the royal hand of the Divine Manu. 

Built on it le\el stretch of ground, \\ell-watered and 
fertile, lovely groves adorn it arid broad fields, where 
\\aves the golden corn. 

Excellent roads, lined with branching trees, connect 
it with every part of the world. Her lofty walls measure 
twelve leagues from end to end and three from side to 
side. High are her ramparts and massive and lined 
with, numerous guns and every death-dealing engine ever 
invented by man's fertitle brain, arid all around them, 
moats wide and deep. The city gates are large and strong 
and of exquisite workmanship ; and the impregnable 
fortifications justify its name, Ay6dhy&. 


The high roads, planned perfectly straight unto the 
very gates of the city, are ever kept clean and well watered, 
and strewed with fragrant flowers. Laid out in even 
squares like a chess board, the broad and well kept roads 
branch out from the royal homes that grace the centre of 
the town. 

Long lines of palatial shops adorn the merchant 
quarters, stored with the rarest works of nature and of art. 

Charming villas and pleasure-grounds peep out from 
every lovely hill and eminence. Splendid mansions, 
flashing with gold and gems, rise in goodly row and 
meet the eye at every turn. Mumerous flags and banners 
gaily wave over the roofs of the towering houses built on 
lofty platforms and gives one the idea of the radiant 
aerial cars of the happy ones who have won the abodes 
of the gods by the force of their religious merit. 

.Rich is it in horses and elephants, sheep and o\en, 
mules and camels. From every street are wafted to the 
ear the sweet sounds of lute or flute, drum or tabret, fife 
or clarion, Vina or Sit&r. It is the happy home of bards 
and minstrels, poets and genealogists, sculptors and 
architects ; and in the streets you are jostled at every 
step by the teachers of the art of dance arid song, by the 
envoys of foreign kings and tributary princes and 
by princely merchants from far off lands, that come there 
to buy and sell. No art nor science, lay or otherwise, 
but finds there its best and brightest exponent and 
highest authority. 

And Br&hmanas, straight of speech and pure of heart, 
bless the city with their presence and form the living 
stones in the Guardian Wall of Humanity. Profoundly 
versed in all the sacred lore, they ever tend the Fires 
and keep the observances ; and in self-restraint and holy 
fervor, rank with the saintly Vasishtha and the like. 

Great Car-warriors and god-like heroes, skilled in every 
art of war and chase, keep the city from the foe. With 
sharp weapons, but more often with their strong hands. 

A Y 6 B H Y A 31 

they rid the woods of many a wild beast, lion and tiger, 
boar and bear. Masters of every weapon, human and 
divine, they never strike the solitary foeman or the flying 
one ; they never attack any one from behind nor harm the 
only scion of his race. 

And, over this best and fairest of cities reigned 13asa- 
ratha, even as the Great Indra holds high sway over the 
Regions of the Gods. 



And from this city, did king !Qasaratha reign over his 
people, wisely and well, even as Manu, the Divine Ruler 
of men. 

Wonderfully strong and hardy, he combined in himself 
the utmost grace and beauty of form. With his senses 
under perfect restraint and of subdued self, his innate 
glory was but thinly veiled by his vesture of flesh. 

He was one of the noblest kings that ever reigned, an 
Atiratha among those that came of the mighty line of 
Ikshvaku. He was the terror of his foes and the joy of 
his friends and subjects , and his name and fame was a 
household word in all the worlds, high and low. 

They that seek a saint laud him for holiness of life and 
spiritual fervor, and in his untold wealth of corn and 
grain, gold and gems, silk and wool, he rivalled Indra, 
the Monarch of the Gods or KubSra, the Lord of Eiches. 
Profoundly conversant with every art and science of 
his age, lay or clerical, his joy lived in the weal of his 
kingdom. By liberal gifts, he attracted to himself the 
best and brightest of the land in the arts of war or 
peace , ever on the watch for an opportunity to extend 
his dominions, enlarge his armaments and increase the 
strength of his fortresses and garrisons, he was a past 
master of kingcraft and his schemes always read into 
the far future and anticipated the results. 

Numerous sacrifices did he celebrate ; and he never tired 
of providing for the welfare and comfort of his subjects, 
by countless works of public utility or recreation. Straight 
of heart and truthful of speech, he ever pursued the four 
Aims of Life at the right time and without clash. In 
a word, Indra the Mighty, ruled not over his Heavenly 
Realm with greater glory or ability. 


And they to whom it was given to reside in that best 
of cities, were ever just and happy, generous and broad- 
hearted, truth-speaking and contented and well versed in 
every traditional lore and legend. You may search the 
city from end to end and never come across any one of 
limited means, poor in his stores of gram and corn, horses 
and cattle , for, poverty was a thing unknown among 
them. Nor can you see any one but was dressed m gar- 
ments bright and clean and was adorned with ear-rings 
and necklaces, wreath and garland, perfumes and flowers, 
chain and bracelet. An atheist or an unlettered man or 
one of cruel instincts or a sensualist, or an Egoist 
was a sight unknown in that fair capital of Dasaxatha. 
There was none who put his love of lucre before self 
and duty, father and mother, wife and child, brother and 
riend. All were godly in spirit, self-controlled, of clean 
lives and generous impulses and like unto the sages of 
yore in the utter parity of their lives. Nor could you 
lay your linger upon any one who was hunger-worn or 
low-spirited or gloomy of soul or mean of nature. Nor 
could your eye rest upon any one who cast longing looks 
on his neighbour's goods or goodly wife. Nor was the 
place deiiled by a thief or a liar or an envious man, or a 
deformed person or ugly. Nor did the walls shelter 
any who was not the soul of loyalty , nor any one who 
knew not the means to secure his happiness here and 
hereafter, nor any one who sacrificed not to the Gocts 
and to the Holy Fires. 

The Brahmands there, embodied in themselves the 
loftiest ideals of the nation and m their rigid discharge 
of their complicated round of duties, led the wa} ? for the 
other classes to follow, studying and teaching, giving 
and receiving, undented by any sm that attaches 
thereunto. They counted among them none who did 
not tend the Holy Fires nor keep the observances ; 
nor any one who had not mastered the V6das and its six 



The other orders of society were ever brave, truthful 
and righteous, kind and hospitable to the wayworn and 
the homeless, devout and reverential unto the Beings on 
high ; ever grateful for kindnesses done and received, 
their days were long and happy, in the midst of their 
friends and relations, wives and children, sons and grand- 
sons, even unto the furthest remove. 

The warrior caste was ever fain to render due obedience 
to the counsel and behest of the Br&hmanas ; the Vaisyas 
were proud to honor and obey the ruling class ; and the 
SAdras, the tillers of the soil, never swerved from their 
rule of life, but ever offered humble and cheerful service 
to their superiors. 

Brave men and true ever kept watch and ward over the 
place ; frank and open as a child, yet of terrible might ; 
quick to feel and swift to retaliate , adepts in the use 
of every weapon and grown grey m the art of war, they 
were ' the heroes of a hundred fights/ And even as a 
lofty mountain-cave guarded by fierce lions, was this fair 
city rendered unassailable through the lion-hearted veter- 
ans, who fought and won, or lay with faces grim, turned 
still in death towards the despised foe. Such his troops. 

Horses had he, millions of them, of noblest breed, drawn 
from the mountain fastnesses of B&hllka, Kmbh6ja or 
Van&yu or from the sandy wastes of Sindh. Matchless 
they stood for grace and speed, even as the Ucchaisravas, 
the horse that Indra bestrides. 

The forests of the Vindhya. and the heights of the 
Himalaya supplied him with rare elephants. Of the 
stock of Airavata they came, of Mahpadma, of Anjana 
and of V&mana. Of vast bulk and height, they were ever 
m rut, like hills in motion. Bhadra, Mandra, Mriga ; 
Bhadra Mandra, Bhadra Mriga, and Mriga Mandra, every 
species was represented in his stables. 

The terror of his well-appointed army allowed no enemy 
to approach within leagues of his capital and made it 
worthy of the name she bore " The Impregnable. " 


And like unto Indra in might and glory, or even as the 
silvery Moon among the distant stars, did Dasaratha, 
the unconquered, rule over that fair Maiden City, strong 
in its fortifications and garrisons, and bright with its 
noble buildings and nobler men. 



Ministers, eight in number, assisted the wise and war- 
like monarch in the government of his vast empire 
Dhrishti, Jayanta, Vrjaya, Siddh&rtha, Arthas&dhaka, 
As6ka, Mantrapala and Sumantra , Vasishtha and V&ma- 
d6va were his spiritual guides, while Jab&li and the rest 
took their place among his counsellors. 

They were excellent readers of character, iaithful arid 
true , their thoughts, words and deeds ever in perfect 
accord ; of subdued senses , ol large private means , gifted 
with extraordinary intelligence , sweet-spoken , of honest 
fame and true to their promises even unto death , of un- 
surpassed valor and fortitude , they over had their eye on 
everything that tended to the best interests of their 
master and was dear to his heart. Their time, their 
talents and their energies were devoted to he affairs of 
the state and they discharged their trust thoroughly and 
efficiently. Well-versed in the intricate science and art 
of polity, they would sooner die than stoop to a mean 
action or an unjust one. Famed for their never-failing 
patience and spiritual might, they would not utter an un- 
truth from motives of anger or love or gam. Of consider- 
able tact and knowledge of the world, they acquainted 
themselves through their spies with everything that took 
place in their country or abroad past, present or in con- 
templation. Of well-tried friendship, they dealt out 
justice swift and meet, be it son or stranger, friend or foe. 

Ever law-abiding, they safe-guarded the interests of 
the good and the righteous ; their hand was ever heavy 
on the wicked and the impious, but was never lifted 
against the innocent, be he their worst enemy. Ever 
successful against the foes of the state and clever in foil- 
ing their deep-laid plans, they never let slip any occasion 


of increasing the armaments of the kingdom and enrich- 
ing its coffers, but withal, by fair and honest means, 
oppressing not the pious Br&hmanas and the valiant 
Kshatriyas. Every offender was punished and fined 
according to the magnitude of his offence and with due 
regard to his age and means, time and place. 

Under the watchful eye of these faithful ministers who 
worked in perfect harmony, neither the capital nor the 
country was ever disgraced by a liar or a rogue or a goer 
after other women or an unrighteous man or a wicked 

These excellent counsellors were ever tastefully dressed 
and adorned. With a constant eye to the best points of 
a man's character, they were renowned for their clear in- 
sight into the present and the future. While religiously 
guarding the secrets of the State, they were calm and 
cool in judgment and well conversant with the proper 
0( evasions of the four means of overcoming an enemy. 

Through his gifted ministers, Dasaratha won over 
the hearts of his people and was ever informed of every- 
thing that took place at home or abroad. Of faultless 
character, his feet were ever set on the path of virtue and 
his heart ever turned a^ay from the path of unrighteous- 
ness. No one sought his presence with a prayer and 
went away disappointed. His friends were numerous and 
true and his tributaries many; he bowed to none and 
acknowledged the yoke of none, and he met not any foe- 
man worthy of his steel. His promises always fell short, 
of the performance , and the rising Orb of l)ay shone not 
with greater glory in his golden halo of radiance, than 
did this king of men, with his noble ministers around 



Of unbounded fame and peerless virtue, king !DaBaratha 
saw the chill winter of age mantling him in its white folds, 
without any offspring from his loins to cheer his last days. 

' His manhood passing, left him lone, 

' A childless lord , for this he grieved , for this 

1 Heavy observances he underwent, 

' Subduing needs of flesh and oftentimes 

' Making high sacrifice to the Gods, 

' Where, all for food, at each sixth watch he book 

1 A little measured dole/ 

He had tried every means that the Holy Books 
recommend, to free himself of this terrible curse of 
childlessness but in vain. In sheer desperation did he 
fling his arm on high and cry 

" Oh, ye just. gods ! Is there no way from this living 
death? 7 '; and, as if in answer to his heart-cry, there 
flashed upon him a suggestion, " May be some unwit- 
ting sin of mine in the far past stands un wiped. Anyhow, 
let me celebrate the Horse-sacrifice that washes a man 
white of all sin and I may yet feel the flower-soft hands 
of innocent children clasp my aged neck around." 

He took counsel of his queens what greater joy to 
their barren hearts? Then, turning to Sumantra who ever 
stood by, like his good angel, he said, " Let my teacher 
and priestly guides know that I await their presence here/' 
And when they were all before him Vasishthti, the 
mighty, Suyagna, V&mad6va, J&bah, Kasyapa, and other 
Br&hmanas grown old in wisdom and sacred lore the 
aged monarch honored them duly and spoke, " Sore 
am I of heart, from having no son to grace my name. My 
royal state and its hollow joys are as dust and ashes in 
my mouth. May be a Horse-sacrifice can remove the 
unknown obstacle that bars the way to the desire of my 
heart. What might be your view, reverend sirs ? " 


The Br&hmanas listened to his sweet words, so ex- 
tremely consonant with the Aims of Life and warmly 
applauded his resolve : " Since your Majesty's heart is 
inclined to this virtuous and righteous course, this sacri- 
fice cannot fail to accomplish your object. 

1 Thy piety, thy purity, thy fasts, 

' The largesse of thy hands, thy heart's wide love, 

1 Thy strength of faith, have pleased us. 1 

Let the necessary arrangements be made for it and the 
consecrated horse be let loose. " 

Joy unspeakable spread over the sad heart of the old 
king and his face shone with a new light ; he turned to 
his ministers and cried, u Place yourselves under the 
directions of the wise Vasishtha and get everything ready 
for the sacrifice. Start the consecrated horse on its holy 
round ; let brave warriors go with it and saintly priests 
Raise the sacrificial grounds on the northern banks of the 
swift-coursing Sarayft. Have the necessary rites per- 
formed that the Kalpa Sfttras lay down to ward off 
obstacles from foes seen and unseen. The spiteful 
Brabrnar&kshasas are ever on the lookout to detect the 
slightest slip and spoil such holy rites ; and a badly per- 
formed sacrifice brmgeth evil unto the performer. But 
for such dangers and difficulties, every king would be 
only too glad to do it. Hence, be it on your heads that 
the sacrifice gets through without any hitch and as laid 
down in the Book of Ordinances. I entrust you with the 
task, for I know none more competent." " To hear is to 
obey" they replied. 

The Brkhrnanas gave him their blessings and withdrew 
from the council chamber. asaratha reiterated his 
directions to his ministers and dismissed them. He 
sought his beloved queens and said to them, " Prepara- 
tions are on foot towards the sacrifice ; consecrate your- 
selves accordingly. " A joyful task was it to them and 
the faces of the lovely ones shone even as golden lotuses 
after a long and severe spell of frosty winter. 



Then Sumantra, the charioteer of the king and one of 
his confidential ministers, sought his privacy and said, 
" Lord, it was given me to be present at an assembly of 
the Holy Ones, when Sanatkum&ra, the Divine Celibate, 
spoke on the very subject alluded to by the learned 
Brahrnanas not long ago. 

The divine Kasyapa has a son, of unrivalled fame, by 
name Vibh&ndaka, and to him will be bora a child, 
Rishyasringa so called. Spending all bis days in the 
lonely forest, his life's sphere will for some years be 
confined to cheerful service upon his renowned father and 
reverential tending of the Sacred Fires , and then, his 
Bramhacharya will receive a violent shock. 

It will come to pass that a famous king, R6map&da, 
will rule over Anga. Some neglect of his kingly duties 
will inflict a drought in his dominions, entailing much 
misery on all beings therein, men and beasts. His heart 
bleeding at the sight of the suffering millions, he will send 
for Brahrnanas grown grey with age and wisdom and say 
* Reverend sirs f you have sounded the depths of know- 
ledge, lay and clerical and have a profound acquaintance 
with the world and its ways. Advise me some rite 
whereby this crime of mine may be expiated and the land 
be freed of this curse that sits upon it.' Then the Brah- 
rnanas, conversant with the Holy Books, will reply 
4 Your Majesty ! manage any way to get down here 
Rishyasringa, the son of Vibhndaka and give him your 
daughter S&nta for a wife, and you will have rain.' 

4 How shall I compass it ? ' the king will say to him- 
self ' well, the Br&hmanas alone know best how to bring 
down one of their class ' and will beseech his chaplain 
and his ministers to go bring him the young ascetic. 


With faces blanched with fear, they will cry out, * Not 
so. Your Majesty will pardon us this unseemly refusal ; 
but we dare not go. Vibhndaka's curse is too terrible to 
think of. But we will suggest to you another plan where- 
by you can bring his son down here without affecting his 
Brahmacharya and have rain.' 

The king will follow their advice and get him down 
through courtesans and give him his (laughter S&nt& for 
a wife. So said Sanatkum&ra, and Bishyasringa, your 
son-in-law as well, will take the requisite measures to 
procure you an offspring/' 

JJasaratha drank m with eager ears the glad news and 
asked, " Well, Sumantra, how was it that R6map&da 
induced Bishyasringa to leave his forest-home and visit 
his dominions? " 




Questioned thus, Sumantra went on, " The pnests spoke 
to the king through his ministers, ' Follow our advice and 
you will have your wish. That ascetic has never been 
outside his native forests. The faithful discharge of his 
duties and the study of the Scriptures take up all his time. 
The face of woman is a new sight to him ; much less 
knows he her nature, her ways and her wiles, nor the 
liquid fire that her looks send along a man's veins. We 
will cloud his senses by sweet music, fine perfumes, 
delicious food, flowery soft touch and sights that capti- 
vate the eye and we are sure to bring him over here. 
Make up your mind to follow our plan. Send lovely 
courtesans on this business ; bribe them well by rich 
presents of silk and clothes, ornaments and money and 
they can never fail to have him at their heels.' l Do as 
seems to you best ' said the king to them ; and deeming 
it unseemly that they should hold any conversation with 
courtesans, they directed the ministers to give them the 
necessary instructions. 

Accordingly the girls went to the forest and hung 
about the cottage of Vibhkndaka, lying in wait for a 
chance to meet his son alone the wise young man who 
rarely left his hermitage, so engrossed was he in attend- 
ance upon his father. 

' In the woods he dwelled 
1 That sinless saint, pious and mild and pure, 
1 Sad-minded, solitary , for his eyes 
' Had never lighted on a human face 
' Except his sire, Vibhandaka's , and thus, 
' Always young Risbyasringa's heart was set 
' On sanctities/ 

As fortune or misfortune would have it, that day he 
came out of his abode and to the very place where these 


damsels had set a snare to entrap his unwary self. 
They joyfully approached him with bright looks of 
welcome and cooed to him with alluring smiles. ' Holy 
one, who art thou ? And how is it that you have chosen 
to make this dark and dreary forest your home ? ' 

1 Take you joy to dwell 

' All lonely in this hermitage ? ' 

Their very forms and features were new to him and he 
obligingly replied, c Lovely beings ! I am the son of the 
holy Vibh&ndaka ; and Kishyasringa he calls me. 1 have 
laid up no inconsiderable merit by my religious austerities. 
Yonder is my cottage and I would be extremely delighted 
to receive you there and give you the best welcome in 
my power/' 

The girls smiled their assent and went with him. 
There he offered them water to wash and drink, and 
delicious fruits and roots to eat. They received them 
with joyful thanks and desirous to leave the place before 
the terrible Vibhandaka returned, said to him, 'Fair Sir! 
you will not refuse to taste of the fruits we have brought 
for you. 1 They offered him every variety of sweet and 
toothsome delicacies, whioh he partook of with unfeigned 
delight and wonder, for never before had he seen such 
sweet and lovely fruits 

1 And at the last 

1 Danced to his side, and for a moment set 
' Palm to his palm, and limb to limb, and lip 
' To trembling lip, and breast to beating breast.' 

The girls then took leave of him saying 'Holy Sir! 
allow us to depart to our homes ; for we are close upon 
the hour of prayer and worship.' 

And the young ascetic, his senses all in a whirl at the 
sight of their divinely beautiful forms, by the delicious 
sweetness of the fruits they gave him, by the subtle 
fragrance that their persons and dress exhaled, by the 
heart ravishing strains of their music and the dreamy 
languor of their looks and not the least by their passion- 


ate kisses and embraces, that sent a stream of molten lava 
through his veins, found his life miserable away from 
them, and yearned for the moment when he would meet 
them again 

' Pie stood 

4 As one some dream of glory leaves distraught, 
1 Spiritless , then wit/hm his lonely ce)J 
* Sa.te, with his face fixed through many silent hours, 
1 Their beauties meditating.' 

After a time the restlessness that took possession of 
him drove hnn to the spot where he came upon them 
the day before and with eager eyes he scanned the road 
they took. 

They fciiled him not and having made sure that they 
had lured him into their man-trap, said to him laughing- 
ly 'Light of our eyes 1 you do us a great injustice in 
that you do not return our visit to you. Come and 
see us where we live. You will find there nicer fruits 
than those we give you yesterday. And you can be sure 
of a warmer welcome at our hermitage.' 

He took their words for gospel truth and only too glad 
was he to go with them The moment his feet touched 
the soil of Anga, 

1 Great ludra's wiafrh was gone and the rain 

1 Burst over the land and drenched the thirsty fields.' 

And the people rejoiced thereat. The king met his 
welcome visitor that brought with him the much-prayed- 
for rains and reverentially touching his feet with his 
head, said with joined palms, 'Holy One 1 May an 
unworthy servant of thine sue for pardon for having 
induced thee by an unworthy ruse to visit my kingdom? 
May he pray of thee to save him from the terrible wrath 
of thy saintly sire ? ' Rishyasringa did not disappoint 
him , and Edrnapada took him to his palace and joyfully 
gave him his daughter, S&nta, for a wife. The sage 
abode with him thereafter, his least wishes anticipated 
and every desire of his heart gratified. 



4 Of the illustrious line of Ikshw&ku will spring a 
righteous monarch, by name Dasaratha, who aye kept his 
plighted word. Eornapada, the lord of Anga, and a very 
dear friend of J)asaratha, will be blessed with a daughter, 
Santa so named, whose loveliness will be matched only by 
her virtue. And to him will the ruler of Ayodhya go and 
say, 4 Oh, my dear friend ' my heart danceth not to the 
happy music of boyish prattle and innocent laughter 
Speak thou to Rishyasrmga for me and request him to go 
out to my capital to devise some rite whereby 

' 1 may have 
Fair babes, contmucrs of my royal line 

And Romapada, taking counsel but with his own 
generous heart, will persuade Eishyasringa and Santa 
to go over with his friend, assured beyond a doubt that his 
son-in-law will not fail to gladden the old king's heart by 
realising his long-cherished wishes. Whereupon Pasarutha 
will, in all humility, pray to the sage to take the neces- 
sary steps to free him of his c urse of childlessness and 
secure him a place m the Regions of the Blessed. Ptish- 
yasringa will not fail him and four sons of immeasurable 
might and boundless fame will call the happy 3}asaratha 
their sue and continue his line on earth for long ages to 

Thus spoke the Divine One, even Sanatkum&ra, for 
whom the past, the present, and the future have no secrets; 
and it #as in the last Kntayuga. Now I suggest that your 
Majesty will do well to go to the sage in person, you and 
your friends, kinsmen, armies and attendants ; offer him 
your humblest respects and entreat him to go over with 

So spake the favoured one ; whereat iDasaratha took 
thoughtful counsel with Vasishtha and set out for the 


dominions of B6map&da. They had a long and pleasant 
journey through happy villages and laughing fields, over 
high hills and dark valleys, through trackless woods and 
across roaring waters and arrived at the capital of the 
king, who gave a hearty welcome to his old friend, his 
queens and his ministers. 

With pride and joj, he lost no time in acquainting 
Rishyasringa with the warm friendship that existed be- 
tween him and IJasaratka and with the relation Sant& 
occupied to him The sage honoured him duly as the 
father of his dear wife ; and the ruler of Ay6dhyft could not 
take his wondering eyes off the young Rishi, spiri- 
tual lustre blazed even as the smokeless flame 

A week or so ot happy hospitality and the childless king 
sought the privacy of R6map&da and said " My old friend 
and true ! I would like that you allow me to take away 
S&ntcL and her husband to Ay6dhy&. They would perve a 
great purpose of mine/ 1 

" Glad am I " exclaimed Rdruap&da, "in that you have 
at last found something that lean do for you " ; and taking 
his son-in-law aside, he said to him, " My valued friend 
J)asaratha, my other self, wants you and your wife to stay 
with him awhile at his place ; and it will gladden my 
heart ever so much if you could do so." "Nothing would 
give me greater pleasure," was the answer of the sage, 
accompanied with an enigmatic smile . 

And the lord of Ay6dhya, now all haste to go back to 
his capital, embraced R6mapada warmly and took reluc- 
tant leave of him, with a promise to meet at no long time. 
He set his face towaids Ay6dhy& and calling unto his 
presence swift messengers, " Go ye," said he, " in advance 
and see to it that the city puts on her brightest look. Let 
the roads be swept clean and the dust laid. Let the 
streets and houses be gaily decked with flags, streamers, 
banners, and garlands. Let arches welcome us at every 
turn and sweet perfumes sail along the soft breeze. " 


And Dasaraiha entered Ay6dhy& to the sweet sounds of 
martial music and the joyful shouts of the people, dressed 
in their brightest and their best, who gave a hearty wel- 
come to their beloved monarch and his honoured friend. 
The royal host offered unto his reverend guest the 
highest honours of his house and led him to the inner 
apartments, while his old heart danced with joy, as if its 
long-deferred hopes were already realized to the utmost. 
His ladies were overjoyed to have Snt once more among 
them after so long an absence , while she, happy in the 
unfeigned love of her friends and kinsfolk and of her 
royal father, abode with him for a while, ever devotedly 
ministering to the comforts of her saintly husband 



Spring came on, never too soon, the brightest jewel 
that ever shines in the crown of the Lord of Months. 
And upon Pasaratha came the desire to perform the 
sacrifice, in whose womb lay his future, his joys, his 
hopes, his peace here and hereafter. He concluded to 
go through the horse-sacrifice as a necessary preliminary 
and purificatory rite and with folded palms prayed 
Bishyasringci of golden lustre, to accept the office of 
Brahma during the preparatory Sangrahanl " Be it so," 
replied the sage, " make the necessary arrangements and 
let the sacrificial horse go his round over the earth." 

J)asaratha turned to Sumantra and said " Heverently 
invite to the holy rite Suyagna, Vamadeva, Jab&li, 
K&syapa, Vasishtha, our royal chaplain and other Br&h- 
manas skilled in the mysteries of the sacrifices and convey 
them here on suitable vehicles, ;" which he did. The king 
honored them 9s they deserved and spake " lleverend 
Sirs! Sore is my spirit, in that my old age is not blessed 
with a child to climb upon my knees. I shall perform a 
horse-sacrifice to expiate this sin of mine, conscious or 
otherwise, that frustrates ior me my dearest hopes and 
wishes." Vasishtha and his fuends applauded the 
righteous resolve and replied u Since tby heart is 
righteously inclined towards this rite, thou bhalt, of 
a surety, be blessed with four sons of mighty arms and 
matchless fame. So, lose no time in making the neces- 
sary arrangements therefor." 

Dasaratha turned to his ministers and said " See that 
the directions of my teacher are carried out to the very 
letter. Let everything be in readiness to begin the rite 
and loose the sacrificial horse to go his round, with skilled 
priests and a strong arrny to accompany it. Lay out the 
sacrificial grounds on the northern bank of the Sarayti 


and have the necessary protective rites performed. If 
these sacrifices could be conducted easily and without any 
mishap, every king would but too gladly lay claim to the 
honour. But, cunning Brahina-r&kshasas are ever on 
the watch to detect any slight flaw in these rites and it 
is not an easy thing to baffle their vigilance, skilled as 
they are in the sacrificial mysteries. I pray you, than 
whom I know none more competent, to enable me to 
perform this sacrifice of mine without a hitch and in 
conformity with the rules laid down for the same/' 
" On our heads and eyes be it," they made low reply 

The S&ngrahani was over, the horse let loose ; and the 
assembled Br&hmanaB were loud in their praises of the 
good king, whose heart was ever set on Dharrna. They 
then took leave of the happy J)asaratha, who reiterated 
his orders to his ministers and retired to his apartments. 




A year passed by and Spring gladdened again the 
hearts of men ; and on the full moon day, Dasaratha 
went to the sacrificial grounds to begin the Horse-sacrifice. 
He bowed himself low before Vasishtha, even unto the 
ground and said to him in all reverence, " Holy One ! thou 
art my guide, philosopher and friend. Thy words are a 
lamp unto rny feet and a light upon my path. I pray 
thee to perform for me this sacrifice duly and without the 
least flaw. No room should be given to the evil-minded 
R&kshasas to interfere with it, the materials, the rites or 
the deities. On thee rests the responsibility of this 
grand rite." " Well, it shall be even as you desire," 
rejoined Vasishtha. 

He then sent for Brahmanas, skilled in the performance 
of every kind of sacrifice, for the officers of the king and 
for the servants placed at his disposal to collect the 
materials therefor , for the makers of the sacrificial bricks 
and altars ; for the carpenters, who prepare sacrificial 
posts, ladles, spoons, pots and other implements ; for the 
diggers of tanks and wells ; for skilled accountants , for 
painters, sculptors and architects , for professors in the 
art of dancing and pantomime , and for priests deep 
in the mysteries of sacrificial art, learned and of pure 
lives ; and said to them, " Oh priests, watch ye every 
detail of the sacrifice and see that nothing goes amiss. 
Bricklayers ! get ready hundreds and thousands of 
sacrificial bricks. Servants r erect mansions to receive 
and accommodate the royal guests, broad and high, proof 
against wind and rain ; and charming residences for the 
Br&hmanas, for our townsmen and for those that come 
from the various parts of our vast kingdom. Look to it 
that these are amply stored with provisions of every kind, 
sweet and wholesome, and with every other requirement. 


And you, officers of the king ! take good heed that you 
receive every one kindly and honor him duly with 
garlands and sweet perfumes. Forget not the masons, 
the sculptors, the architects, the servants and those that 
are set to supervise these arrangements. Never show 
them the slightest sign of disrespect or neglect, but extend 
unto every one your heartiest welcome. Entertain them 
right royally and let them have everything they want, 
food, clothing and money. Keep your eye on every class 
of men and let it be upon your heads that they go away 
mightily satisfied. Beware, I say, of offending any one, 
be he the lowest of the low, through anger, enmity, famil- 
iarity or avarice. Ever keep before your minds^the love 
you bear to me and to your king and deserve the 
same at our hands, by dicharging your respective duties 
to your utmost, and without the slightest room for 
complaint or remark. " 

And they all replied with one voice, " Holiest of sages ! 
Upon our heads be your orders ; we shall carry them out 
to the very letter." 

Vasishtha then turned himself towards Sumantra and 
said, u Send out respectful invitations to every righteous 
king on the face of the Earth and to the men of note in all 
grades of society. Do thou request in person the gracious 
presence of the valiant Janaka, the lord of Mithila, bound 
to our king by ties of relationship, and deep in the know- 
ledge of the V6das and the Sstras ; of the sweet spoken 
Lord of Kasi, also a dear friend of gasaratha ; of the ruler 
of Kekaya, our king's father-in-law and a paragon of virtue, 
and his son , and last, but not the lest, of the thrice 
fortunate B6map&da, the glorious king of Anga, one of the 
dearest friends of our master ; and send thou to invite 
hither the kings of Smdhu, Sauvira, Saur^shtra and of 
the numerous kingdoms in the south, east and west and 
every other royal friend of our monarch." 

And Sumantra did so. 

Then, the officers and servants deputed by Vasishtha to 
look after the various details of the sacrifice, reported unto 


him that they had done their work skilfully and thoroughly, 
Vasishtha dismissed them with this last piece of advice 
and warning. " Whatever you give, give it with a 
cheerful heart and a pleasant smile. An ungracious gift 
brings evil upon the giver our king. Eemember and 
fail not." 

In a short time the kings of the Earth carne to the 
capital of Dasaratha with valuable presents of costly 
gems and articles rare. Then Vasishtha addressed himself 
to the king and said, "Noble king! the rulers of the 
Earth are come unto your sacrifice, every one of them, 
and I have received them right royally. Your officers 
have made every necessary arrangement for the rite. 
The sacrifical grounds are ready to receive your Majesty 
and resemble the happiest creations of celestial architects. 
May it please your Majesty to come and have a look at 

And, at an auspicious moment, Dasaratha set out 
for the sacrificial grounds along with Vasishtha and 
V&madva. Then began the great Horse-sacrifice, under 
the watchful eye of Vasishtha, fiishyasringa and the other 
sages, who saw that nothing went amiss. 



The horse, that was sent to make the round of the 
earth, came back safe and victorious. And on the sacri- 
ficial grounds erected on the banks of the Sarayft, priests, 
who had sounded the depths of the V6das, went through 
the rites of Pravargya, Upasada, and other incidental 
offerings, as laid down in the Mlm&msa and the Srauta 
Sfttras. They adored the Gods that preside over the 
various details of the sacrifice ; during the morning 
Savana, they invited Indra to partake of his portion of the 
offering and hymned high the sin destroying S6ma ; and 
the two other Savanas were properly gone through in 
their turn. 

Every part of the great sacrifice was performed without 
any defect or interruption ; the priests omitted nothing, 
they altered nothing , the Mantras were chanted without 
any fault of measure or intonation 

And all the days the sacrifice went on, you could come 
upon none who was afflicted with fatigue, hunger or 
thirst , nor an unlettered man ; nor one but had a 
hundred disciples. The Brahmanas, the sages, the sky- 
clad, the old, the infirm, the sick, the boys and the women 
were ever seen feeding heartily. The viands were so 
sweet and delicious that, no sooner you rose full from a 
meal than the desire came upon you to sit down to it 
again , and you regretted the limited capacity of your 
stomach. The king was feeding countless millions , but 
he was never satisfied and ever blamed himself for his 
inability to give more. So, he gave directions to the 
superintendents that in every part of the vast grounds 
food and clothing should be distributed, without stint, to 
those that might ask for it. In the numerous kitchens the 
cooks piled up day after day huge hills of food of every 
kind ; they were marvels of the culinary art and very 


soon disappeared down thfe joyful throats of the untold 
millions that came from the various quarters of the earth 
to view that famous rite. And Br&hmanas, neatly 
dressed and gaily decked, served the guests, while many 
others assisted them. They rose from the meal all too 
reluctantly and praised in no measured terms the 
excellence of the feast and the well appointed service. 
" Our delight and joy knows no bounds, your majesty !" 
cried they, "may every happiness be thine. " And the 
words were sweet unto his ears, 

During the intervals of the sacrifice, Brahmanas of 
great learning and high powers of speech, entered into 
various polemical discussions with one another, with a 
view to win laurels on that memorable occasion. 

On each day of the sacrifice, during the three Savanas, 
Br&hmanas skilled in the spreading of the sacred grass, 
conducted the rites presided over by Um and the 
other deities. Among those that took part in the sacri- 
fice, there was none who was not a master of the V&das 
and the V6d&ngas, nor any who had not kept the 
Chndr&yana and the other vows; nor one who had not 
a profound and varied acquaintance with the S&stras ; nor 
could your eye rest in the king's audiaece on any Brahmana 
who was not an able disputant. 

And when they came to that part of the sacrifice where 
the sacrificial posts were planted, they drove into the 
ground twenty one posts at arm's length from one 
another, near the altar place of Agni. A post of 
Sl6shm&taka, with another of 3)6vad&ru to the north and 
south of it; again, three Bilva posts north and south 
of the first three ; and again three mahogany posts north 
and south of these fifteen. They were made of tough 
flawless wood, each five hundred and four inches long 
and octagonal m shape. They were smoothly planed ; 
and Br&hmanas well versed in the theroy and the art of 
sacrifice, decked them with bands of gold, flowers, 
perfumes and rich cloths. Planted in rows of seven, 
they looked not unlike the constellation of the Great Bear. 


Before they were planted, skilled Br&hmanas laid out 
the fire-altar of bricks specially prepared according to the 
Sfttras ; it was eighteen stones high and shaped like the 
G-aruda, facing the East, with spread tail and wings 
adorned with golden plates. 

To the posts were bound, as enjoined in the rules of 
sacrifice, serpents and birds dedicated to Indra and to the 
other deities. And on the occasion of the offering up of 
the animals, the consecrated horse and about three 
hundred other animals were tied to the posts land-living 
and aquatic, tame and wild, beasts of the wood and 
fowls of the air. 

On the spot known as S&mitra, (slaughtering-ground) 
the queens of Dasaratha sprinkled the dead horse with 
consecrated water, reciting the appropriate Mantras, 
went round it right and left, and with a gold needle 
marked on its stomach the three places for the priests to 
cut at. Then, Kausaly&, with a view to lay up great 
merit, abode for a night with the horse and felt no 
repugnance at touching the carcass. 

The chief priests Brahma, Hota, Adhwarayu and 
Udgata took by the hand the Mahishl, V&v&ta, Pl&kall, 
and Panvritl, given them as presents by the king and 
handed them back to him, receiving rich gifts in exchange. 

Thereafter, the Adhwaryu cut out that part of the 
horse known as Tdjinl, that corresponds to the Vap& of 
other animals and offered it to the God of Fire on plaited 
water-reeds. The king smelt of the smoke and his sins 
were washed away ; and after him, the eleven other 
priests offered into the fire with appropriate rites the 
various parts of the horse. 

The horse-sacrifice extends over many days and 
includes several complicated rituals, of which three are 
the most important. On the first day, the Agnisht6ma, 
with four St6mas ; on the second, the Ukthya ; on the 
third, the Atir&tra ;^and the remaining days were given 
up to Jyotishtfima, Ayusht6ma, the two Atir&tras, Abhi- 

56 BiLAKigDA 

jit, Visvajit and Aptdryama ; and every one of them, in 
strict conformity with the rules laid down for it and 
with heart-felt good will to the performer. 

Thus did Pasaratha perform this grand sacrifice, 
revealed to the world by Brahma, successfully and without 
omitting the least detail ; and with a glad heart did he 
present the H6t&, the Adhwaryu, the Brahma and the 
Udg&ta, with his dominions on the East, West, South 
and North respectively. They accepted them joyfully 
and said to the king, " Your Majesty! religious observan- 
ces, the study of the Holy Writ and the teaching thereof 
come easier to us and are more congenial than the 
government of kingdoms. What shall we do with them? 
You are fitted for the task and God has specially placed 
you in the world therefor. So, take these back and 
give us in return gold and gems, horses and cattle." 
And J)asaratha gave to every one of them ten lacs of 
kine, ten crores of gold coins, and four of silver, which 
they took to Bishyasringa and Vasishtha to equitably 
divide among them. They received their shares gladly 
and said to the king, " We are more than satisfied." 

]Qasaratha distributed untold wealth among the poor ; 
and a Brhmana, who made bold to approach him with a 
request for something more, was rewarded with the 
diamond bracelet on his arm With tears of joy coursing 
down his aged cheeks, the monarch reverently touched 
the ground with his forehead before the assembled 
multitudes, whose contentment and joy knew no bounds, 
while the priests and the Brhmanas spoke their heart- 
felt blessings in the grand and majestic chants of the 
V6dic hymns. 

The heart of the old king danced with joy in that he 
had successfully performed the famous horse-sacrifice, so 
difficult for ordinary monarchs. It burnt away the sins 
that stood in the way of his being blessed with an 
offspring and opened to him wide the gates of heaven, 
He then approached Bishyasringa and prayed to him 


with joined palms, "Holy Sir! deign to point out to me 
the means whereby I could have a child to cheer my old 

" Let not thy noble heart be cast down, " replied the 
sage. " Four sons will be born unto you, whose eternal 
glory will illumine your noble line. And mine be the 
care to bring about the happy event. " 

3848 8 



Then, Bishyasringa, whose mind was capacious enough 
to receive and retain the numerous S&kh&s of the V6das 
and who was a thorough masterof the mysteries connected 
therewith, after long and earnest thought, hit upon the 
most effective method of realising the king's wishes. 
With a glad face he turned to him and said, "Now shall 
I perform for you an Ishti consecrated by the Atharvana 
Mantras, that will not fail to get you a son." And in the 
course of the rite, he made an offering in the tire, accom- 
panied by powerful Vedic Mantras. 

Meanwhile, the various Angelic Presences that came 
down to the horse- sacrifice to receive their portions of the 
offerings, approached their chief, the Lotus-born One, and 
said, "Lord! A EAkshasa, K&vana by name, has won 
your favour by his wonderful austerities and has been 
blessed with many mighty boons in consequence , and 
we, poor souls, have to pay for it. Bound by our respect 
for the giver of those boons, we have to put up, without 
a murmur, with his unheard-of cruelties. The three 
worlds tremble at his name ; he will, in no time, drive 
away from their thrones Indra and the other Eegents of 
the spheres and occupy them himself. Strong in the 
strength of his boons, he bids defiance to every one, 
sages and Brahmanas, Yakshas and Gandharvas, J36vas 
and Asuras and grinds them low. The Sun draws in his 
heat when he shines on the Demon and adjusts his 
warmth to his taste ; the Wind-God is afraid to blow 
hard through his gardens, lest the flowers therein should 
fall off the trees and creepers and anger B&vana when 
he is disporting himself there ; the roaring Ocean with 
his mutinous waves, stands tongue-tied with fear at his 
approach ; his fierce looks strike dire terror into our 
hearts and we drag on lives of misery and fear. Seek 
thou some means to relieve us from this living terror." 


" Shining Ones !" replied Brahma, " the wicked wretch 
prayed of me immortality from the D6vas, the Gand- 
harvas and the B&kshasas and that L granted him. But, 
fortunately for you, he has omitted to ask it from men, 
as being too far beneath his fear and notice. There is 
his weak point and he should be made to meet his death 
at the hands of man." 

The hearts of the sages and the gods danced for very 
joy at this glad news , and they rejoiced as if the hour 
of their deliverance was already at hand. 

Then there appeared before their delighted eyes the 
Lord Vishnu, the ruler of the Universe and the living 
God in the hearts of all beings. In His supreme efful- 
gence stood He, His face resplendent with the thought 
that the time had come for Him to destroy the wicked and 
bring peace and comfort to the hearts of the good and 
the righteous. He ever bears in His hands the conch 
and the discus, to extend His protection to those that 
take refuge in Him. Brahma advanced to reverence 
Him, his mind actively engaged with the prayer he 
meant to place before Him. Then the Sons of Light 
hymned Him high and with bent heads and joined palms 
cried, " We pray Thee that Thou deign to be born as 
four sons unto gasaratha, of righteous heart and saintly 
life the Lord of Ayddhya, from whom none ever ask 
in vain. Do Thou take human form through his three 
queens, who are even as the mortal embodiments of 
Hrl, Sri and Kirti, and destroy the impious One, even 
BAvana. He is the scourge and the terror of all beings 
and is not to meet his death at the hands of any but 
man. Proud of his might and prouder still of the boons 
he had won of Brahma, he tramples on all of us, gods 
and sages, Yakshas and Gandharvas, Kmnaras and men 
alike. The lovely Apsarasas that disport themselves in 
the charming groves of our Nandana are the special 
objects of his persecutions. We, the denizens of the 
three worlds, pray his death at Thy hands and take our 
refuge in Thee. Thou art our only stay and support, and 

60 B AL AK 

we pray that Thou wilt be pleased to coine down on 
Earth to destroy the wicked wights, R&vana, Indrajit, 
Lavana and certain wicked Gandharvas." 

Then, unto the expectant Brahma and the attendant 
celestial host, spake the World-honoured One, Vishnu, 
the Lord of Lords, " Fear not, my children. All good 
betide you. I shall come down among men as the son 
of Pasaratha arid shall slay in dreadful battle R&vana, 
that terror of yours and of eveiy devout and virtuous 
soul ; nay, his sons, grandsons, friends, and kinsmen even 
unto the last remove. And mortal years 11000 shall I 
reign over the Earth, restoring Law and Order.'.' 

He promised them safety from their enemy and a speedy 
deliverance to their miseries ; and resolved to manifest 
Himself as the sons of Dasaratha, whose saintly virtues 
attracted Him to take birth in his family. Far, far 
above the mortal changes known as birth and death, 
Himself the Goal and the End of all desires and efforts, 
human and divine, yet He made up His mind to limit 
His illimitable essence and come down into this dark 
and sinful world of ours, that the i wicked might cease 
from troubling and the weary be at rest. 7 

Then, the Shining Ones, the Gandharvas, the Rudras 
and the Apsarasas, sang his divine glory and repeated 
their prayer, " Soul of Compassion ! Lord of infinite 
Mercy! save us from the wrath and oppression of the 
terrible Ravana , slay him in battle dire, him and his 
kin, him and his countless hosts. Naturally endowed 
with no inconsiderable degree of pride and might, he has 
become insufferably so, through the boons conferred on 
him by Brahrna. The good and the righteous cry out 
against him and raise tear-dimmed eyes and trembling 
hands in mute appeal to Thee for deliverance and 
protection. Thy work accomplished, come Thou back, 
light of heart, unto Thy radiant seat on high, far beyond 
the utmost dreams of poor we, unto Vaikuntha, the eternal 
world where desire is not nor hatred." 



To which the Lord Nr&yana replied in feigned igno- 
rance (whatis it He knowsnot !) " Well, iny children, I shall 
do even as you wish. But I do not see clearly the easiest 
and most effective method of bringing about his death. 
You have thought over it long and deeply, and may be you 
can suggest the best course/' 

The ]Q6vas bowed low before the Eternal One and rejo- 
ined, " Lord ! the sinful wretch contrived to win the favour 
of Brahma, the foremost and the best of us all ; who, 
pleased by his terrible austerities, granted him immunity 
from death at the hands of everyone in all the worlds, 
above and below. But, he has, in the height of his con- 
tempt, omitted men from his list. Safe, through his 
boons, from every object m the universe, as he fondly 
thinks, his pride is equalled but by his cruelties. The 
groans of the insulted Ddvas and the shrieks of the ravished 
damsels cry out against; him and the bleached skeletons of 
holy sages, whom he had murdered in cold blood. Man 
and man alone is his fate ; and from him he meets his 
death Do Thou take human form and slay him in battle 

Then said the Lord Vishnu, " I shall come down among 
men, as the son of Dasaratha, who is even now performing 
a holy rite to get a boy in his old age." He ended and 
having given leave to the assembled celestial hosts to 
depart, vanished then and there, lauded by the rejoicing 

Soon after, Rlshyasrlnga, in the course of the rite he 
was conducting, made an offering unto the Fire Ahavanlya, 
when there rose out of it a radiant Presence of vast pro- 
portions. Like a towering peak he stood ; and the blazing 
Fire or the noonday sun was as nothing before the blind- 
ing glory of that mighty One. His face was fiery red 


and the hair upon it was of the hue of molten gold, even 
as the tawny inane of the monarch of the forest. Clad in 
robes of reddish black, his beautifully proportioned limbs 
were adorned with lovely ornaments. Of inconceivable 
might and power, even as the royal tiger in the flush of 
his strength and fierceness, his voice sounded as the great 
war drums that fill the warrior's heart with fire and 
energy. His hands were closed around a golden vessel of 
exquisite workmanship, silver-covered, as lovingly as ever 
a lover's arms were twined round the neck of his beloved ; 
and this was full of divine Payasa. He turned to the 
king and said, 4t I am a man sent to you by the Four-faced 
One, Brahma " 

Dasaratha replied with folded hands, " Lord ! Hast thy 
journey hither been a pleasant one ? What does my lord 
want with his servant ?" 

4 'Only this," said the Radiant One, " the gods are 
pleased with thee and thy Horse-sacrifice and Putreshti 
and have sent thee this Payasa. It confers glory and 
weal and, more than anything else, the son you so much 
yearn for. Accept it ; let j^our queens partake of it and 
sons four shall be thine. This is what you have toiled for, 
ever so long, through horse-sacrifice and vows innumer- 

" Thy commands shall be obeyed, " replied the king, in 
awe and reverence ; and receiving the Payasa sent him 
"by the D6vas, he bowed low unto the Divine Messenger 
and went round him in respect ; and his heart leaped for 
very joy, even as that of a beggar that has come upon a 
precious treasure. And the mighty Being, having accom- 
plished his mission, disappeared into the fire from which 
he sprang. 

Thereafter, the king concluded the rite, and retiring to 
his apartments, said to his queens, " This divine P&yasa, 
the gift of the celestials, will bear you sons. Do you par- 
take of it." And their faces shone thereat, even as the sky 
illuminated by the rays of the autumn moon. 


He then distributed it among them thus: One-half 
to Kausalya,, one-fourth to Sumitrd. and one-eighth to 
Eaikdyi. But, to give the remaining one-eighth to her 
would be to place her on a level with Sumatra, her elder, 
and that should never be ; so he divided it equally between 
the two. The queens were highly satisfied with his 
distribution of the P&yasa and deemed themselves blessed 
in being allowed to partake of it. They ate of it and 
shone brighter throughout the period of pregnancy than 
the smokeless fire or the brilliant sun. And the old king, 
saw it ; his heart was lifted of its weight of sorrow and he 
rejoiced even as the great Indra, honoured in heaven by 
the Siddhas and the Sages. 



When the Lord Vishnu had taken the preliminary 
steps to come down as the son of J)asaratha, the Lotus- 
born One, from whom the future is not hid, said to the 
D6vas, " The Lord goes down among men in pursuance 
of His promise to us and for our good. Send ye down, 
from your essences, sons to assist Him in His fight with 
BAvana ; choose ye fit vehicles among the Apsarasas and 
Gandharvas and beget sons ape-like m form. Capable of 
assuming any shape at will they shall be masters of the 
arts of illusion, like unto the Wind-God in speed and unto 
the Supreme Vishnu in might, invulnerable and uncon- 
querable, with the strength of fierce lions in them and 
endued with the terrible energy of all the Astras, im- 
mortal, even as the celestials who have drunk of 
Ambrosia, intelligent, conversant with every rule of 
morality and skilful in adopting the means to the ends. 

" Once, when I indulged in a deep yawn, I brought forth 
a mighty bear, J&mbav&n by name, of course with an eye 
to future contingencies.' 1 

And in cheerful obedience to his commands, the sages, 
the Siddhas, the Vidy&dharas, the Uragas, the Ch&ranas 
and the other celestial oiders, brought forth sons of their 
own essence, monkeys that roamed the woods. The great 
Indra gave birth to Vli, the monarch of the monkeys, of 
vast proportions even as the Mount Mahendra. The 
Sun-God begat Sugrlva ; Brihaspati begat Tra, the wisest 
and the foremost of the monkey host ; Kubdra begat Gan- 
dhamftdhana, like unto him in wealth ; Visvakarma begat 
Nala ; Agm begat Nlla, radiant even as his sire and 
excelling the other monkeys by his glory, splendour and 
valor ; the handsome Agwins begat Mainda and IQwivida, 
no less beautiful than their sires ; Varuna begat Sushdna ; 
Parjanya, the God of Bain, begat Sarabha, of vast strength ; 


V&yu begat Hanum&n, like unto Garuda in speed and of 
adamantine body, impervious even to the Vajra. 

Thus, countless myriads of apes, baboons, monkeys 
and bears came down on Earth to assist the Lord in 
exterminating Bftvana and his wicked brood. Their 
strength was immeasurable ; they could take any form 
they liked ; of vast bulk like unto M6ru or Mandara, 
resembling their sires in shape and height, some were 
born of monkey mothers, some of bears, some of Apsarasas, 
some of Vidy&dhara maidens and some of N&gas and 
Gandharvas ; some were born of celestial fathers, some of 
sages, some of Gandharvas, some of Garuda and the 
feathered race, some of Yakshas, some of Vsuki and the 
others of N&gas ; some of Siddhas, some of Vidy&dharas 
and some of Uragas. 

Proud in their strength even as lions and tigers, light- 
ing with rocks, trees, teeth and claws, they could 
shatter the strongest tree and uproot the hugest mountain , 
their speed was such that the mighty Lord of the Rivers, 
was shaken to bis very bottom ; with a blow of their feet 
they could rend the solid Earth in twain ; they could 
lightly leap across the vast oceans, course along the 
sky and catch by the hair the fleet-footed clouds ; they 
could fly away in sport with huge elephants that range 
the forests m the pride of their strength ; their roars 
could cause the most powerful birds to drop down dead 
from their dizzy home among the clouds. 

These mighty beings ranged the earth and the sky , 
and their seed grew and grew by hundreds and by thou- 
sands and covered the face of the globe. Some of them 
lived along the sides of Kikshav&n and othei mountains, 
in dark forests and lonely woods, on the banks of charm- 
ing lakes and swift-coursing rivers, on the high hills and 
in the low vales. 

All ot them recognised as their monarchs, the brothers 
V&li and Sugrlva, the king and the heir-apparent, born of 
Indra and Sftrya ; their leaders were Nala, Nlla, Hanuin&u 

3348 9 


and other mighty monkeys. V&h extended his power- 
ful arm over them and under its shadow lived, in peace 
and prosperity, the high-minded and valiant apes and 
monkeys, bears and baboons. And these mighty beings, 
of various shapes and features, and of vast and fearful bulk, 
like unto huge mountain peaks or cloud-banks, came down 
into the world to help the Lord in His noble task and 
darkened the broad bosom of the Earth, and its numerous 
mountains and valleys, hills and dales, forests and wood- 



The various celestial hosts that came down to receive 
their offerings during the Horse-sacrifice departed to their 
respective worlds after the Ishti was over. 

The king and his queens freed themselves from the 
conseciatory vow ; and he sent away, with all honors, 
the many kings that had graced him with their presence. 
They saluted Vasishtha and the other sages and left for 
then respective kingdoms, their troops flashing with gold 
and gems and gay apparel, the royal gift of their noble 

Dcisaiatha returned to his capital, in the company of 
Vasishtha and his brother sages, his queens, his armies 
and his servants following him in their countless convey- 
ancBS. Then Rishyasringa and his wife took leave 
of J.)asaratha and along with them Rdmap&da. Having 
dismissed his guests, the king abode in his capital, his 
hopes realised and his thoughts ever intent on the ap- 
proaching birth of his sons. 

Twice six months had rolled a way since the great sacri- 
fice was over and, in the first month of the New Year, 
on the ninth dcty of the bright fortnight, the Lord of the 
worlds chose to take human form and sent down half 
of His essence as the son of Kausaly& (thenceforth 
to be known as Rama), the world-honored One, the crown- 
ing glory ot the grand line of Ikshwku, and the sum 
of all perfections. The constellation Punarvasu, of which 
Aditi was the regent, was chosen to preside at his birth. 
The Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn were in ascen- 
sion in their respective houses. Aries, Capricornus, Can- 
cer, Pisces and the Libra, Jupiter and the Moon were 
in conjunction ; the rising sign was Cancer. And Kau- 
salyA, shone with unparalleled effulgence, even as Aditi 


when she gave birth to Indra, the lord of the Shining 
Ones, the Vajra-wielder. 

Bharata was born of Kaikdyi, under the constellation 
Pushya, when Pisces was the rising sign. He had in him 
one-eighth of the Divine Essence, and was the embodi- 
ment of every excellence, and of never-failing prowess. 

Under the astensm Aslfisha, when Cancer was the rising 
sign, were born unto Sumitia two sons, Lakshmana, and 
Satrughna, valiant and well-skilled in the science of anus, 
human and divine. They were twins ; Lakshaiana had 
in him one-fourth and Satrughna one-eighth of the Divine 
Essence. Resembling in lustre the two asterisms Pftrva 
and Uttara Bhadrapada, they were beautifully matched. 

Sweetly sang the Gandharvas, and gaily danced the 
Apsarasas, the celestial drums beat mernly and the 
flowers of Heaven rained on Earth when the Divine 
Four came down upon it. The capital and the kingdom 
was one scene of mirth and jollity , and it was a happy 
day. The high roads were crowded with blight citi/ens, 
dancers and dancing masters, the streets echoed to 
gay songs and sweet musical instruments, and the loud 
plaudits of bards, genealogists and heralds. The old king, 
beside himself with joy, gave away untold wealth and 
kine to Brahrnanas and rich presents to the bards and 

On the thirteenth day of their birth the holy Vasishtha 
joyfully gave them names. The son of Kausaly& he 
called R&ma ; Kaik6yi's son answered to Bharata ; 
and the twins from the womb of Sumitra, he named 
the elder Lakshmana, and the younger Satrughna. 
On that occasion the king caused numerous Br&hmanas 
to be fed, both m his capital and in his kingdom and gave 
away cgstly gems and rich gifts. 

In due time, the boys passed through the sacraments 
laid down for the twice-born, Annapr&sana, Choula and 


Of them, R&ma the eldest, who towered above the rest, 
was a perennial source of delight to his sire and even as 
the Lotus-born One, the darling of all beings. Very soon 
they mastered the V6das and the Ved&ngas ; brave and 
wise, endowed with every virtue, they were ever intent 
upon doing good to others. Among them, Kama was the 
brightest and shone radiant. Of unfailing powers, a source 
of delight unto the world, even as the charming Queen 
of Night , the most expert in braining horses and elephants 
and in chariot races , master of the Science of the Bow, he 
was withal ever assiduous m attending upon his parents 
and ministering to their least comforts. 

Lakshna,na, blessed with every perfection and excel- 
lence, was ever devoted to his brother Rama, the beloved 
of men , the whole current of his thoughts, words and deeds 
set towards Rama , and that even from his very infancy. 
Sleep visited not the eyes of Rama, the best of men, if 
Lakshmana were not by , he relished not his food, be it ever 
so delicious, if Lakshmana was not there to share it with 
him. His right hand and his visible life currents 
he regarded Lakshmana. When Rama rode out to hunt, 
Lakshmana ever accompanied him, bow in hand, to shield 
him from any harm. Satrughna was unto Bharata what 
Lakshmana was unto R&ma. 

J)asaiatha, surrounded by his four beloved and fortu- 
nate sons, shone even as the Four-faced Brahma among 
the Regents of the Spheres. His heart waxed glad to see 
them grow in wisdom, derived from the study of the arts 
and sciences ; to see them adorned with every perfection , 
to mark their keen sense of shame, when, from baed- 
lessness, their thoughts happened to go astray , to see 
them proficient in every worldly affair ; to hear of their 
growing fame among men as prodigies of intellect ; and to 
observe their wonderful faculty of seeing before them into 
the future and act accordingly. The sons were not slow 
to note the love of their sire towards them ; they became 
more assiduous, if possible, in their studies of the science 


of Ethics and sacred legendary lore and in the mastery 
of the bow, and ever served their sire joyfully. 

Now, Pasaratha one day took deep counsel with his 
High Priest and his kinsmen about the approaching 
marriage of his boys , when, unto him among his ministers, 
came all unexpected the great sage Visvimtra, of high 
spiritual lustre and said to the Wardens of the Gate, 
" Let the king know that Visvamitra, the son G&dhi 
is here to see him." In great fear and trepidation 
they ran in aad informed the king that Visva- 
mitra waited for an audience , whereat, the king made 
haste to welcome the sage very caret ully and humbly, 
even as Indra welcomes Brahma. His face shone with 
gladness at the sight of Visvamitra of stern austerities, 
and through Vasishtha he extended unto him all the rites 
of hospitality. Visvamitra graciously accepted the kind's 
kindness and inquired after his welfare. "Art thou 
ever intent on gathering rare and valuable objects and 
increasing the collection ? Are thy kin and friends happy 
and the subjects in thy capital and kingdom ? Is thy 
treasury growing ? Are thy subject princes obedient and 
loyal to thee ? Art thou regular in thy sacrifice to the 
gods and other religious observances ? Dost thou duly 
acquit thyself of thy duties as a man and as a king ? Do 
thy guests receive hospitable enteitamment at thy hands ? 
Dost thou make right use of the various methods of 
kingcraft ? "' He then proceeded to enquire after the health 
and welfare of Vasishtha, Vmad6va and the other sages. 
Pleased with his attentions to them, they proceeded to the 
audience chamber and took their usual seats. 

Then Pasaratha, the great giver, approached the sage 
and with his hair standing on end through joy, ex- 
claimed, " Holy One ! this kind visit of thine, which I 
never dared to dream of, gladdens my old heart more than 
if a mortal came by the Waters of Immortality ; more 
than welcome rains to parched deserts ; more than a son 
born to one in his old age, of his lawful wife ; more than 


recovered treasure to the loser ; more than the marriages 
of their children to fond parents. Has thy journey 
hither been a pleasant one ? What shall I do to gratify 
thy wishes ? Blessed am 1, in that Heaven has sent me 
one than whom I can desire no fitter recipient. Fair is the 
day that brought thee here. It is now that my birth has 
borne fruit and this my long life here. As a royal sage, 
there was no wish of thine that thou didr.t not gratify ; 
then, by dreadful austerities, thou becamest aBrahrnarshi 
and thy heart knows no desire. Every way thou art an 
object of reverence and honor unto me. Thy visit here 
has washed away my sins and it is a wonder to me indeed, 
when I come to think of it A sight of thy holy face 
has translated me to the regions of the Blessed. Allow 
me to perform thy behests and deserve thy grace. Art 
thou not a god unto me, a household deity ? Thou hast 
come unto me only for my greatest good and thy visit has 
increased my religious merit. Hesitate not to acquaint 
me with the object of thy journey hither , be it small or 
fjreat I qive you nuj ioijal word to accomplish it unto fit? 
least detail " 

So in all humility and from a full heart, spoke Pasa- 
ratha, born ot ancestors who reckoned among them such 
famous men as Tnsauku. The words fell sweet upon the 
ears of the noble sage and his heart was glad thereat. 



To which, the samtly One, his heart dancing at the 
words of the great-souled king, replied, u Best of mouarchs 
that thou art it becomes thee well, and no other in this 
world. It does great credit to the high ancestry to 
which thou belongest and to the holy sage Vasishtha, who 
is thy Gruru. Promise to carry out what I have in mind , 
and when thou hast once promised, see you fail not 
at any cost to accomplish it to the utmost. At present, 
I am engaged in a holy rite with a special purpose , and 
two Rakshasas, able to assume any shape at will, are bent 
upon spoiling it. When 1 am about to close my rite, these 
two, Maricha and, powerful and skilful, pour down 
showers of flesh and blood on the sacrificial altar and pol- 
lute it for ever. Thus annoyed and my purpose baffled, 
I came away weary and almost despairing. I cannot bring 
myself to direct my anger against them, and inflict a curse, 
for, the nature of the vow forbids it , so, I request thee 
to give me thy eldest son R&ma, beautiful, valiant, and of 
resistless prowess. Protected by me, and by the force 
his innate energy as weJl, he is able to destroy these 
R&kshasas that afflict me. I will see that this enterprise 
brings him incalculable good and great glory, such as 
will be held in high esteem in the three worlds. The 
Ra.kshasas cannot stand before him even for a moment, 
and no one but Rma can destroy them. Full of extreme 
conceit at their valour, these wicked ones are no match 
for Rma ; lo ! the shadow of death is creeping upon 
them. Never allow the great love thou hast for thy sons to 
interfere with this momentous work. I swear to thee that 
the R&kshasas cannot escape him. I know the real 
Rftma, the great-souled One of invincible might. Vasish- 
tha, of high spiritual eminence, knows it too, and these 


holy sages that pass their time in stern austerities. If 
thou desirest to secure supreme renown in this world and 
unbounded righteousness in the next, send Bina along 
with me. If thy ministers give their consent to it, as 
also Vasishtha and theother saintly ones, send R&ma along 
with me. I want him for ten days and no longer ; for, by 
that time I will have finished my sacrifice. So, send 
along with me the handsome Rtaia, whom I so earnestly 
pray for To speak the truth, he has no attachment to any- 
thing down here See to it that the time for the performance 
of the sacrifice is not past. Arrange accordingly and 
allow no grief to take possession of thy heart." 

Thus spake Visv&nntra, the great sage, to whom noth- 
ing was impossible. With a heavy heart !Qasarathti 
listened to the request of the sage, which, though ]t con- 
ferred good on his son and was righteous in its nature, 
unnerved him completely Pierced to the heart, the 
strong-minded king \\as overpowered with gnef and 
tottered upon his throne 

3348 10 



The words of Vi3vraitra stunned him quite. For a long 
while he remained like one demented , then, mastering 
himself with a mighty effort, in faltering accents he 
managed to reply. "K&rna, the darling of my heart. Rama, 
with eyes lovely as the fresh-blown lotus leaves, is yet m 
his early teens. I dare not even dream of his being able to 
stand m battle against the mighty night-rangers. Count- 
less millions of war-worn veterans call me their loid and 
master, each a host in himself. My warriors are valiant, 
covered with fame and versed in the use of every kind of 
weapon, human and divine. 1 shall put myself at their 
head and wipe out these Rakshasab They are more 
competent to tight these demons, but ask me not ! \aiU5i. 
Here am I, ready to march against them, bo\\ in hand, 
millions of tried soldiers at iny back and tight tor thee 
to my last breath. I promise thee I will myself go over 
there and see that thou accomplish thy vow safe and 
without any interruption , but, J pray thee, ask not Rama 
of me. He is yet a child. He has not yet finished his 
training. He knows not the strength and weakness of 
himself and of his enemies, He has never been yet in 
battle and his is not the might derived from the 
possession of celestial weapons. Knowest thou not that 
B&ma is entirely unfit to fight against these Raksha- 
sas ? They never fight straight, but always take refuge 
in their arts of illusion. Take R&ma away from me and 
thou takest my very life. Nay, if thou art bent upon tak- 
ing R&ma with thee, take me too and my numerous army, 
well appointed. This, my son, has gladdened my heart 
after sixty thousand years of disappointed hopes and 
fruitless grief. How canst thou have the heart to take 
away Rftma from me, the light of my eyes and the 
prop of my old age? Knowest thou not that, of my four 


sons, RAma lies next to my heart ? Need I tell thee that 
he is my first-born and the most steadfast in virtue ? 
So, take not Rma away from me. These, thy Baksha- 
sas, who are they ? Whose sons are they ? What is their 
might ? Wherein lies their strength ? Under whose 
protection are they ? How dost thou want Rama to fight 
them ? Tell me, for I will do it, how to render useless all 
their illusions , for thou hast me and my countless hosts 
to do thy bidding. Instruct me how I can withstand 
these R&kshasas, proud of their valour." 

Then replied Visvamitra, " May be, thou hast lieaid of 
a, Rakshasa, R&vana by name, descended of the hoary Pu- 
lastya. The sage Visravis is his father , he is own brother 
to Vaisiavana, and monaich of all the Kakshasa s on earth , 
immeasurable is his strength and matchless his might , 
gifted with wonderful boons from Brahma and with count- 
less hosts of Rakshasa.^ at his back, he grinds the three 
worlds beneath his heels When he does not himself con- 
descend to spoil the sacrifices, these, his creatures, Mari- 
cha and Subahu, take his place and excel him m cruelty 
and wantonness." 

Then said Qasaratha, with a faint heait " Powerless 
am I to cope with that wicked one. Have pity on my 
child of tender years, oh, righteous Lord ! Unfortunate 
that I am, thou art my Guru and my God The J)evas, 
the D&navas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Ngas 
and the Pannagas, cannot bear to look upon Ravana, 
terrible in battle , why speak of puny mortals such as 
we ? R&vana absorbs, as it were, the strength and might 
of those that face him in battle ; I dare not even dream 
of opposing him or his hosts, either alone or with my 
armies or with iny sons. But, on no account will 
I part with my darling R&nia, beautiful as a god and 
a child in years, in experience, and in warfare. M&rlcha 
and Sub^hu those sons of Sunda and Upasunda, 
are mighty and extremely skilled in fight. Born to a 
Yaksha woman, and best and foremost of the Daityas, they 


are terrible in battle, even as the G-od of Death. They 
are set upon ruining thy sacrifice and never shall I send 
iny son against them to certain destruction as it were. 
However, if thou so desirest it, I will call my friends 
around me and fight with any others but the two.'* 

These words ofDasaratha, the ravings of a sorrow-laden 
heart, roused to fury the smouldering wrath of the descen- 
dant of Kusika , and it blazed forth even as the sacrifi- 
cial fire glows with steady flame, \^hen huge libations 
of ghee are poured into it 



But, he kept back his rising anger as well as he might 
and replied to the incoherent words of love uttered by the 
fond father. " Thy word once gone forth, thou now seekest 
to go back upon it. Verily this is unworthy of thy race, 
glorified by such men as Raghu and contrary to the tradi- 
tions of thy ancestors. Well, well, if thou thinkest that thou 
have acted right in this matter I will even go back as I 
catue. Worthy descendant of Kdkutstha ! reiqn thou in 
peace of heart and in happiness, havimj kept thy pliqhted 
faith so well." 

At these fiery words of the terrible Visvanntra, winged 
with wrath, the solid earth shook to the foundations and 
the very Grods trembled in dismay. Then, Vasishtha, of 
mighty vows, intelligent and saintly, knowing that the 
whole universe stood overpowered with fear at the anger of 
the sage, addressed himself to J3asaratha. " Born as thou 
art in the line of Ikshwaku and thyself the incarnation 
of justice and virtue; firm in thy vows and of fortitude 
unspeakable ; endowed with every kind ot worldly happi- 
ness, thou shouldst not seek now to swerve from the 
Path of Right trod by thy ancestors of happy memory. 
Right well hast thou upheld in the world till now the glory 
of the line of Raghu, as the ideal Monarch, the Great 
Giver. Shrink not from the duty laid on thee and let not 
thy heart be drawn away to the Path of Unrighteousness. 
You have said, ' I will accomplish thy object , and if thou 
now seekest to prove unfaithful, thou but destroy est the 
hard-won merit of every righteous act of thy long life ; 
so is it that I advise thee to send R&raa along with the 
sage. Endowed with the might of celestial weapons or 
without them, the R&kshasas are but straw before his 


fiery energy, protected as he is by the strong arm of 
Visvamitra, even as the ambrosia of the Gods by the 
blazing fire. Knowestthou the mystery that shrouds him 
whom it is given thee to call thy son ? He is the Great 
Law. He is the Supreme One, the head and source of 
valor, wisdom and spiritual might. Mortal eyes, clouded 
by ignorance, cannot pierce the veil that hides his glory, 
nay, not the highest Gods. 

" Vis\&mitra here is Dharma embodied ; he is the fore- 
most of mighty warriors. None can cope \\ith him in 
knowledge and wisdom ; he is the highest example of 
Tapas and its exponent He knows best the secret of 
every kind of magical weapon and none but he, none, in 
all the worlds above or below, not even the Gods, the 
Jttishis, the Asuras, Kakshasas, the Gandharvas, the Yak- 
shas, the Kmnaras and the Uragas When he sat 
of old on the throne of his forefathers and held sway over 
the earth, these, the mighty sons of Bhrlsasva, were given 
unto him, every one of them. These grandsons of the 
Prajapati IJaksha are countless, brilliant in their lustre, 
all-consuming and of unspeakable might. J)aksha had 
two charming daughters, Jaya and Suprabha, who were 
the mothers of countless weapons, human and divine, of 
unbearable effulgence. Five hundred did Jaya bring forth 
for the destruction of the Asura hosts, inconceivably power- 
ful and changing forms at will , and to Suprabh& were born 
another five hundred, in no way behind their brothers. 
Visvamitra here knows everything worth knowing about 
them ; nay, such is his might that he can, without any 
effort, create new ones, it necessary. Believe me when 
I tell thee that his vision extends clear into the remotest 
future. Neither in fame nor in virtue nor in holiness has 
he his equal. Hence I say unto thee, entertain no doubts 
about sending R&ma along with him. To destroy these 
impious wretches is child's play to the sage ; for the glory 
of your son and for no other reason does he seek thee out 
even in thy house and pray thee to give him B&ma." 


The old heart of j)asaratha was filled with joy and his 
face shone bright at the calm and convincing words of 
Vasishtha. Gladly he gave his consent to Visv&mitra 
taking along with him, R&fna, the son of his heart ; and 
it was to the undying glory of himself and to the welfare 
of the worlds. 



Then he called unto him R&ina and Lakshmana, his 
inseparable companion , and with his face beaming with 
joy, caused protective rites to be performed on behalf of the 
brothers, consecrated with holy mantras. Vasishtha, the 
High-priest, himself conducted them ; and Kausaly& 
with a mother'^ love, recited powerful and holy mantras 
over her child's head to guard him from every danger. 
Thereafter, the king clasped his favourite to his breast, 
smelt his head, gave him his choicest blessings and with 
a full heart and cheerful, he made him over unto Visv&- 
rnitra , for, Vasishtha opened his eyes to the real nature of 
R&ma and his grand mission. When the Holy One took 
leave of the king and started to go, and Kama of God- 
like presence along with him, a cool and refreshing 
breeze blew, free of dust. Flowers rained from the hea- 
vens , celestial drums, < ouches and other martial music 
were heard on high , and the gods rejoiced, in that the 
hour of their deliverance drew nigh 

Visv&mitra led the way. llama followed behind, with 
bow on his bac k, his fair curls blown about his face by the 
gentle breeze ; and Lakshnmna came last, the shadow of 
llama. Even as three-hooded serpents or as the Asvins 
reverently following in the wake ot the great Grand-sire, 
did the brothers of matchless prowess follow the holy 
Visvftmitra, the beautiful peacock feathers waving over 
their thick coils of hair. It added, as it were, to the 
unbearable splendour of the sage to seo the brothers 
Rma and Lakshmana walk after him brightening the 
bright space around. Lovely of form and radiant in 
their lustre, they were a charming sight to see, these 
boys armed with sword and bow, with leathern gauntlets 


braced on their hands ; and it forcibly reminded one of 
the Fire-born sons Skanda and Vis&kha, walking behind 
Mahft,d6va, the Lord of the worlds. 

They had passed not more than a mile along the south- 
ern banks of Sarayft, when Viflv&initra turned back and 
said in sweet accents, "Lose no time, R&ma, but purify 
yourself with water and receive from me the mantras Balfi, 
and AtibalS,. Hunger nor thirst, nor fatigue nor fever, 
nor weakness of liinbs shall come upon you. The night- 
rangers shall not come near you, awake or asleep, care- 
less or on your guard. None shall stand before you in 
the worlds above or below. In strength of arm or m 
valor, in fortune or in skill, in wisdom or in knowl- 
edge, in readiness of speech or quickness of reply you 
will not find your equal. In every respect you will be far 
and above any one, man or God ; for, these two mantras 
secure to the possessor every kind of knowledge and are 
the source of all wisdom. Recite these on your way and 
you will want for nothing. Unequalled fame too shall be 
yours, for, these sciences are the sons of Brahma, of 
unspeakable glory ; and search as T may, I cannot find any 
one more fitted to receive them than yourself. For, know 
I not that you are the head and fount of all knowledge, 
human and divine 9 These, the offspring of mighty tapas, 
and multifornied, shall confer upon you incalculable 

So spoke Visv&rnitra ; for, who knew better than he that 
the boys were never before accustomed to travel on foot 
m the pathless woods, and put up with the chances of 
hunger and thirst, heat and cold, fatigue and sleepless- 

K&ina purified himself accordingly and \\ith a glad 
heart and bright face received them at the hands of the 
Holy One. Thereat his energy and splendor were im- 
measurably enhanced, even as that of the thousand-rayed 
Lord of the Day in a cloudless autumn sky. The princes 

8348 11 

82 BALAKifiDA 

rendered reverence meet to the Holy sage, their Teacher 
and the three spent the night on the banks of the Sarayti. 
And the dark hours passed away all too soon, beguiled 
by the pleasant discourse of the saintly ascetic, as the 
boy princes lay on their grass beds, all unaccustomed and 
strange after the princely luxury of the Eoyal Palace of 
their father. 



At daybreak, Visv&mitra came to rouse the princes 
lying asleep on their couch of grass. 

The golden halo of radiance that crowned the face of 
B.&ma caught his eye strongly and half to himself, he 
said, " What is there that I will not give to know how the 
thrice-fortunate Kausalya managed to find favour in the 
eyes of the Lord of Glory and won the envied privilege 
of calling the Great Father, her dear son." Then, aloud 
to the object of his thoughts "E&ma, thou priceless gem 
that lay enshrined in the holy waters of Kausaly&'s 
happy womb ! the rosy dawn begins to creep over the 
slumbering Earth. Yonder Sun chases before him the 
fleeting Spirit of Darkness ; awaken thou to thy glorious 
task and put to rout the impious Sons of Darkness. 

" The shades of night roll back from the face of the 
globe ; and with it the veil of ignorance that erstwhile 
hid from my eyes the mystery that circles round thee. 
To me it was given to set my eyes on thy sleeping glory, 
yet I long to see thee awakening to the light of day. 
Discharge thou the rites and observances that thou hast 
laid down for the children of the Earth : for thou art their 
ideal and example. Awake, for a stern taskmaster must 
he be to himself, who seeks to lead others along the 
rough ways of duty." 

Thereat the royal pair sprang from their rude couch, 
had their bath in the holy river and went through their 
daily round of duties, nor forget to recite the rare mantras 
taught them. Then, they reverently saluted their master, 
the holiest of sages and, with a glad heart, prepared to 
follow him. 

They travelled a long way and saw before them the 
holy Gang& of celestial origin, and further on, where it 


mixes its waters with the Sarayfl ; and in that holy spot 
they came upon the dwellings of saintly ascetics of stern 
austerities, who pursued their life of self-denial and altruism 
for thousands of years. The princes were possessed with 
curiosity to hear from Visv&mitra every thing about 
it and turned to him with " Holy Sir! to whom does this 
hermitage belong ? Who abides in it at present ? Great is 
our desire to know this , and we see no one who could 
speak upon it with better knowledge/' 

Lightly laughed the sage at the seeming ignorance of 
R&ma and at his assumed curiosity. " With great plea- 
sure, " said he, " if you will give me your attention for a 

" In the far past, Mahd6va chose this spot to carry on a 
course of austerities , he had taken P&rvati to \\iie and was 
once on his way to get her down to attend upon himself 
during the while. At that time the Lord of Love took 
human shape and the Wise Ones called him K&ma. In 
an evil hour he took it into his head to approach the Great 
God and draw him away from his holy meditations, by 
rousing in him thoughts of love towards the Daughter of 
the Mountain-king ; and the Maruts secretly urged him 
on. When, lo ! the Lord of Ascetics opened upon him his 
Third Eye ; * Hum,' cried the Great One and there shot 
out from his eye a tongue of flame that reduced to a heap 
of ashes what was once K&ma, the ideal of beauty and 
grace in the worlds above or below. Thus did the wrath 
of Siva render the God of Love bodiless ; and hence his 
name thereafter, Ananga, the Bodiless. The spot where 
he met his sad fate is known as the Angadfisa . 

" This is the holy hermitage of Siva and these sages are 
his disciples, ever devoted to virtue ; they know not riiu 
Best we here for the night, between these holy rivers 
which we shall cross to-morrow. Now let us finish the 
evening rites and proceed to their holy abode." 

Meanwhile, those saints of pure lives, saw through 
their spiritual eye the coming of the holy sage and 


his princely disciples and the object of their journey, 
and came forward to welcome them to their forest home 
even while the latter were speaking about them. They 
offered glad rites of hospitality unto Visv&niitra, and 
extended a hearty welcome to Kma and Lakshmana. 
And in their sweet company, the quick hours glided away 
unperceived, so kind were they and loving and so sweet 
was their discourse ; till the shades of night grew on them, 
which perceiving, they proceeded with concentrated 
minds to offer their evening prayers to the Goddess of 
Twilight. So, in that hermitage associated with the evil- 
fated K&ma, did these pass the night in the company of 
many other ascetics whom their hosts invited there to 
share their pleasant time ; while Visv&mitra, of boundless 
wisdom and steadfast virtue, entertained the princes with 
pleasant narratives of old times and men and beguiled 
the long hours of the night. 



The world awoke to a new day and the valiant princes, 
rising with the dawn, discharged their morning duties 
and followed their preceptor to the banks of the mighty 
river. Meanwhile, their saintly hosts had prepared a beauti- 
ful boat to take them across ; and reverentially address- 
ing themselves to Visv^mitra, said to him, "May it please 
you to get into this along with your worthy disciples. 
We have delayed you enough , now a happy journey to 
you all the way and every good go with you." Visvamitra 
saluted Lhem and took reluctant leave of the kmd-heaited 
ones and crossed over the sacred stream, he and his 
pupils. When they were in the middle of the current, 
Rma and his brother heard a mighty sound proceeding 
from the confluence of swift-coursing waters and turning 
to their teacher, requested to know the source of the noise 
as of clashing ocean-waves. To which, Visvamitra replied 
all willingly : 

"On the heights of the far-famed Kfiil&sa there exists 
a lake of supreme sanctity, brought into existence by an 
act of will of the four-faced One , and hence its name 
M&nasa Lake. A stream issuing from that holy spot, 
comes down the heights and falls into the Ganga, passing 
by the capital of your father, even Ay6dhya , and hence 
its name Sarayu. The sound, so wonderful to your young 
ears, proceeds from the meeting of its holy waters with 
the rapid current of the divine Ganga , and you will do 
well to offer your reverent salutations unto it." 

The princes obeyed him accordingly, and crossing 
over to the farther banks without more loss of time, soon 
they came upon a frightful forest, devoid of the presence 
of Br&hmanas ; at the sight of which, R&ma, curious to 


know everything about it, addressed himself to Visvft- 
mitra and said, " Lord ! this wood fills roe with curiosity; 
it resounds with the hoarse cries of terrible beasts of prey, 
rendered all the more fearful by the screams of wild birds 
and numerous flying insects. Lions, tigers, boars, and 
elephants, not to speak of numerous winged creatures, 
lend the aid of their dreadful presence to heighten the 
horror of the scene. Yet, this forest, so dreadful and 
uninviting, is pleasant to look at, beautified as it is with 
countless trees of graceful foliage and lovely blossoms, 
Dhava, Asvakarna, Kakubha, Bilva, Tinduka, Ptala and 
Badarl andmany others of unknown origin and properties. " 
And Visvftniitra hastened to reply, "Bama dear, 
listen to ine while I narrate to you a story of the far past 
as to whom this frightful forest belongs. Long years ago, 
these tracts known as Malada and Karftsa were large 
kingdoms teeming with countless millions, prosperous, 
happy and fair, even as the fancy creations of the gods. 
Once upon a time, it befell that Indra slew the Asura 
Vritra ; the sm took shape and entered into him along with 
hunger and uncleanlmess, overpowering his divine form 
and nature. Then the gods and the sages had him purified 
with the waters of hoJy rivers, consecrated with powerful 
Mantras ; and here it \vas that his fouJ uncJeanJmess fell 
away from him. Having consigned to this place the un- 
cleanlmess and the hunger that afflicted him, the hearts 
of the gods were glad. And Indra, overjoyed at finding 
himself free from his troubles, and pure once more, in a 
transport of gratitude, did he confer a boon on this place. 
" These two populous provinces have helped to receive 
the foulness of my body ; and they shall be celebrated on 
earth, as Malada and Karftsa." The Devas applauded his 
act and his sense of reverence to the place that gave him 
back his pristine purity. And for long years thereafter, 
these places were the homes of happy millions, living in 
plenty, and blessed with everything that man could get 
from Nature. 

88 BALAKifiDA 

Then there came on earth a Yaksha woman, who had 
the strength of a thousand elephants and could take 
any form at will. She was the wife of Sunda ; and 
J&taka (for so was she named) bore him a son, M&rlcha, 
who equalled Indra himself in prowess. Huge of bulk 
and strong of arm, that R&kshasa held the people of 
these kingdoms in abject terror, by his matchless might 
and frightful countenance and form ; while T&tak& 
amused herself with destroying the innocent inhabitants 
hereabouts, by hundreds and by thousands. Yonder has 
she taken up her abode, about half a yojana from here ; 
and hence people steer clear of these parts as the own 
preserves of &taka. Slay her of your strong arm and 
rid these fair lands of a great pest ; for I command you 
thereunto. I tell you again, that none dare to enter 
these regions, through which the dreadful Yakshmi ranges 
free and unhindered. And now you know, as well as I, 
how these once fair and populous lands have been laid 
waste, beyond all hope of recovery/' 


To which pregnant words of the sage of no mean might, 
R&ma, the flower of valor, returned sweet answer, " I 
have been given to understand that the Ynkshas are not 
very formidable , how is it that one of them, and that a 
woman, is gifted with the wonderful strength of a thou- 
sand elephants ? " 

u Know then " said Visv&mitra " that this weak and 
fragile woman is endowed with abnormal strength by virtue 
of a boon. Long ago there was a Yaksha, Suk6tu by 
name, a man of righteous deeds and great prowess. 
Unblest with any child, he had recourse to Brahma to 
get one ; long did he pray and earnestly, until the Great 
Architect of the worlds was pleased with his tapas, and 
gave him a lovely daughter Ttaka, with the strength of 
a thousand elephants in her , but no son. And when 
she came of age to marry, he gave her a dream of beauty 
and grace as wife to Sunda the son of Jarjha, In good 
time, M&rtcha was born unto them, who later on was 
shorn of his great glory by being cursed to become a 
Rakshasa. When Sunda met his fate at the hands 
of Agastya, she and her son sprang upon the Holy One 
with terrible roars, meaning to eat him up ; whereat 
of the mighty sage blazed forth wrath in and he cursed the 
pair " Wretches ! Quit these fair forms and take up those 
of R&kshasas, terrible to behold and monstrous, and roam 
the earth feeding on human flesh." 

Maddened with the curse, she takes revenge by laying 
waste, in her fury, what were once the favorite haunts of 
Agastya. And, R&ma ! I would that in the interests of the 
cows and the Br&hmanas, you slay out of hand, this 
wicked Yakshini of cruel deeds, this fiend, who uses her 

8848 - 12 


terrible strength to such evil purpose. And the more so, 
because, except your valiant self, no one in the worlds 
above or below can bring down this wretch, who glories in 
the might of her boon. Let no misplaced sense of pity 
stay your arm from wreaking this long delayed vengeance 
upon this cruel monster. For, you are of the line of kings 
and the welfare of defenceless millions demands it at your 
hands. A king ought to discharge his duties cruel or 
otherwise, sinful or meritorious, if he would protect those 
whose destinies lie in his hands. This is the Path of 
Eight trod by the kings of old, whose broad backs bore the 
heavy responsibility of empire. Slay this unrighteous one, 
for, no law, human or divine, restrains her actions. Know 
you not that Indra slew Manthara, the daughter of 
Vir6chana, who sought fco plunge the whole world m ruin '- 
Know you not that Vishnu mercilessly destroyed the 
wife of Bhrigu and mother of Sukra, who calmly set 
about to wipe out Indra. Instances out of count can I 
quote to show that kings have always deemed it their 
duty to rid the earth of such wicked monsters in human 
form. So, Kama f upon your head and eyes be it that 
thou cleave the heart of this woman, stealing your heart 
against tender emotions." 



Then, to the soul-stirring words of his preceptor, 
B&ma, steadfast in his principles of conduct, gave meet 
reply, with joined palms the while : " My father's com- 
mands and more than that, my respect for thee, impel me 
to follow without hesitation or doubting the orders given 
by Visv&mitra. For, have I not been enjoined to that 
purpose by my sire Dasaratha, in the royal presence and 
before the holy sages ? And shall I falsify his words ? 
Never. So, out of respect to my father and out of respect 
to the Holy One of boundless wisdom whom I have the 
happiness to call my Guru, I shall verily bring about the 
destruction of Tataka and no doubt of that. Here I am, 
ready to carry out your orders, that aim at the welfare 
of cows and Br&hmanas and the happiness of these once 
prosperous lands. " 

So saying, he grasped his mighty bow by the middle, 
strung it in a moment and drew it to his ear; and the 
sound thereof was terrible to hear, and echoed far and 
near. Birds and beasts and the numerous creatures that 
made the dreadful forest their home, trembled in affright. 
T&taka was at first confused ; but, rage unbounded master- 
ed her and she rushed towards the spot whence the sound 
came. Seeing her advance towards them with open 
mouth, huge as a mountain, and deformed, B&ma turned 
to Lakshmana and said, " Lo ! my brother' Yonder 
Yakshini is really no pleasant sight to behold. Timid 
ones will die of terror were they to look at her. But, 
endowed as she is with unlimited powers of illusion and 
be she formidable to stand against, my arrows shall 
compel her to retire as fast as she came, but a nose and 
ears less. Anyhow, I cannot bring myself to slay her, 


for, her womanhood stays my arm ; I shall even content 
myself with depriving her of her energy and power of 
motion. " 

He had not finished, when T&taka espied him afar and 
rushed at him with a howl of rage. Visv&mitra stayed 
her with the word " Hum" and prayed that the brothers 
may come out safe and victorious. She raised a huge 
cloud of dust that shut out the princes from view for a 
time ; and resorting to her powers of illusion, showered 
rocks and stones on the pair. Then E&ma's ire was up ; 
and scattering the rocks by a flight of arrows, he cut off 
her hands as she sprang at him. Yet she stayed not 
but roared frightfully, albeit tired and without her hands 
when, Lakshmana operated upon her and chopped off her 
ears and nose. The next moment she assumed a thou- 
sand shapes and was here, there and everywhere ; then, 
all at once she vanished from view, leaving them bewildered 
by her illusion. Yet, a ceaseless downpour of rocks 
indicated her activity and made her terrible presence 
felt, at which, Visvamitra grew impatient and exclaimed 
to Kma with some warmth, " A truce to your misplaced 
tenderness ; are you not yet convinced that she is a she- 
devil who has destroyed the sacrifices of many an unoffend- 
ing sage? Twilight is drawing apace and then these foul 
things of darkness are most powerful, nay almost invin- 
cible. See, how her energy increases as the day wane 
and the night draws near. Slay her outright and delay 

Strong in her powers of illusion, she remained invisible ; 
but R&ma's shafts sought her out even there and stayed 
her rocky downpour. Then, m sheer despair, did she 
rush at the princes with terrible roars of baffled rage ; 
when, the boy-hero shot at her a Fiery Shaft. Fierce 
as a thunderbolt and almost irresistible, it struck her full 
on the chest ; down she fell and gave up her bloody life. 

At once there arose a glad shout of unspeakable relief 
from the anxiously watching Indra and his host of celes- 


tials. " Bravo! bravo!, well done!'* cried they with one 
voice and lauded B&ma to the skies. They then addressed 
themselves to Visvtoitra and said, " Holy One ! all hail 
to you ; you have laid every one of us, under a deep obli- 
gation. Give yet another proof of your great love to 
B&ma by imparting unto him the Science of the divine 
weapons, the sons of the Praj&pati, Bhris&sva. Of never- 
failing might, brought into existence by long and terrible 
Japas, you cannot find for them a fitter recipient than 
R&ma, so devoted is he to your service, and so necessary 
it is towards accomplishing a great end we have in view. 
So delay no more." They ended ; and with loving saluta- 
tions to the Holy One and hearty blessings on the bo^- 
heroes, departed to their respective abodes. 

Meanwhile, the shades of night \\ere falling fast , and 
Visv&mitra, well pleased with Rma, smelt him lovingly 
on the head and said, " Rest we here for the night and 
reach my hermitage to-morrow. " So they passed the 
night in the once-dreaded haunts of T&tak, but now freed 
from its unhappy curse and once again a smiling and 
happy land, beautiful even asChaitraratha. R&ma, having 
thus rid the earth of the terrible daughter of a Yaksha, gods 
and sages vied with one another in singing his praises ; 
a deep sleep and sweet descended upon the tired eyes of 
Rtbma and he lay locked in the soft arms of slumber, till 
he was roused at early dawn by the holy sage. 



Next morning, Visv&initra, of mighty renown, turned 
to the young hero with a pleasant smile and addressed 
him in accents sweet and mild, " Well pleased am T 
with you ; and out of the joy that fills my heart, shall I 
impart unto you the mysteries connected with warlike 
weapons of every kind ; master of which, neither Gods nor 
Asuras, Gandharvas nor Uragas, can stand against you in 
battle and not come under your influence and be worsted. 
Such mighty weapons shall I give you, divine in their 

1. !Qandachakra 30. Nandana, the favorite 

2. Dharmachakra Astra of the Vidy- 

3. Klachakra dharas (sword-like in 

4. Vishnuchakra shape) 

5 Aindr&stra 31. Mnava \ ^he favorite 

6. Vajrastra 32. Prasvapanaj-Astras of the 

7. Sivy's Trident 33. Prasamana ) Gandharvas). 

8. Brahmasiras 

9. Aishlkastra 34. Stiryastra 

10. Brahm&stra 35. Parpana \ 

11. The clubs, M6daki and 36. S6shana (favorites of 

Sikharl 37 Santapana fthe God of 

12. Dharmapasa 38. Vil^pana | Love 

13. Kalapasa 39. Madana 

14. Varunapsa 40 Mohanastra (used by the 

15. Varun&stra Pisachas) 

16. Two thunderbolts, the 41. Tamasastra 

moist and the dry. 42. Saumanastra 

17. Pinak&stra 43. Samvarta 

18. Nrayanstra 44. Mausalfi,stra 

19. AgnSy&stra (named 45. Saty,stra 



20. V&yavy&stra (named 40. M&y&dhara 

Prathana) 47. T&jas 

21. Hayasiras 48. Sisirastra (used by the God 

22. Kraunchastra S6ma) 

23. Vishnusakti - 49. Sud&inana 

24. Rudrasakti 50. Slt^shu (the weapon of 

25. Kankala \ Bhaga) 

26. Musala used by 51. Manavastra 

27. Gh6ra I the 

28. K&p&la Asuras 

29. Kankana ) 

All these and many more do thou receive from me. They 
are of no ordinary might ; they can take any form at will 
and can be depended upon in any emergency." 

Then Visv&mitra duly purified himself and taking his 
seat facing the East, initiated R&ma into the mysteries of 
those magical weapons ; and well pleased was he thereat. 
So mighty were they that the very Gods could not receive 
and retain them in their entirety. 

As the sage uttered the words of power, they assumed 
visible form and stood about R&ma. With joined palms 
they addressed their new master and said, " Here we are, 
Lord Rama, thy servants to command. Ever gracious 
unto thee, we stand ready to anticipate thy least wishes." 

Rama accepted their service and touching each one of 
them in token of mastership, replied to them with a pleased 
heart, " Come unto me when I think of you." He next 
turned to his Guru and offered him reverent salutations ; 
after which they resumed their journey, 



They walked for a while in silence, when K&ma turned 
to Visvkmitra and said with a bow, "You have been 
pleased to initiate me into the mysteries of these magical 
weapons and have rendered me almost invulnerable to 
Gods and Asuras. But, may I request to know how 
these are withdrawn ?" 

And all too glad, did the sage of mighty vows and terri- 
ble energy instruct him therein. 
"I. Satyav&n 23. Virnala 

2. Satyakirti 24. Yogandhara 

3. Dhrishtha 25. Handra (to destroy the 

4. Eabhasa Daityas). 

5. Pratlh&ratara 26. Sarchirm&ll 

6. Par&ngmukha 27 phritirm&ll 

7. Av&ngmukha 28. Vnttiman 

8. Laksh&ksha 29. Euchira 

9. Vishama 30. Pitrisamnanasa 

10. Bridhan&bha 3J. Vidhttta 

11. Sunabhaka 32. Makara 

12. Dasaksha 33 Karavirakara 

13. Satavaktra 34 J3hana 

14. Dasaslrsha 35. Dh^Lnya 

15. Satodara 36. KSLmarlipa 

16. Padman^bha 37 Karnaruchi 

17. MaMn&bha 38, Moha 

18. ]Qundun&bha 39. Avarana 

19. Sunabhaka 40. Jrimbhaka 

20. Jyotisha 41. Sarvan^bha 

21. KrisAna 42. Sant&na 

22. Nair^sya 43. Varana 

Eeceive from me these sons of Bhrisaswa, capable of 
taking any shapes at will and of unbearable splendor. 
For, no better recipient do I see than thee." 


" As my Lord willeth " replied Bma with a glad heart 
and did so. With joined palms they ranged themselves 
around Rama in human shapes of exceeding effulgence, 
and there was nothing that he could not command whom 
they owned as their master. Sortie were like glowing 
coals, some like smoke and others radiant like the sun 
and the moon. All of them reverently saluted their new 
master and said, " Here are we, thou flower of valor ! 
awaiting thy orders." " Dwell ye in my memory " replied 
R&iiia, "and assist me when the time comes. I give 
you leave to go." " We obey " replied they and taking 
respectful leave of him, vanished from view. With the 
permission of his Guru, he instructed Lakshmana in the 
mysteries of the magical weapons and their withdrawal. 

They then resumed their journey until they came to 
a beautiful grove of trees, at the sight of which, Rrna 
turned to his master and said in charming accents, 
" What may be that tall grove yonder, hard by that moun- 
tain before us ^ It looks more like a bank of clouds piled 
up, so lofty it is and so dark. A pleasant sight to see 
the happy birds and beasts sporting there fearlessly with 
joyful cries. The lovely aspect of the country here- 
abouts impels me to think that we arc well out of the dark 
and dreary forest of the she-demon, TatakA.. Who is it 
that resides in that charming locality ? Verily, great is 
my desire to know everything about it. Are we come to 
where range those wicked wretches of fierce deeds, who 
revel in slaying Br&hmanas and destroying the sacri- 
fices of innocent sages ? Where do you conduct your 
sacrifice ? Where should I take my stand to destroy the 
JR4kshasas and protect your rite ? Prithee satisfy my 
unbounded curiosity on this head you from whom time 
and space have no secrets 1" 

3348 13 



And to him who desired to acquaint himself with the 
story of that grove, as if he were no wiser than any one 
of us, replied Visv&mitra of boundless spiritual might, 
" Here it was that Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe 
abode invisible for ages untold, engaged in long and 
difficult Tapas, for the good of the worlds ; and as 
V&mana, He sanctified it with His Divine Presence. 
Siddhasraraa is it called , for, even here the Blessed One 
accomplished the object of His r jf apas. 

" It was about that time, Bali, the son of Yirochana, 
routed the celestial hosts and held undisputed sway 
over the three worlds. He commenced a grand sacrificial 
rite, when, Agm and the other Gods came to Vishnu 
here and said, " Bali, the son of Virochana, is even 
now performing a grand sacrifice ; and before it is over, 
you should see that we accomplished our object. He 
makes it a point to refuse nothing to any one who may 
ask him for it, it matters not who or what. For our sake 
call in thy inscrutable Power of Illusion to thy aid; 
assume the form of a dwarf, beek the sovereignty of 
the three worlds at his hands as a gift, and bring peace 
and happiness to the tortured hearts of us all." 

It chanced that about the same time, Ksyapa, the 
Patriarch, and his wife Aditi carried on a long and severe 
course of austerities and won the grace of the Lord. 
Even as the noon-day sun or like the blazing fire shone 
he in his spiritual glory. Vishnu came down to where 
he was and spoke to him in sweet and kindly accents, 
" Son, mightily pleased am I with your Tapas. Ask of 
me what thou wilt and it is yours." 

With noble hymns did K&syapa praise the Giver of all 
good, " Supreme One 1 My long and difficult vow has 


indeed borne fruit in that I have been blessed with a sight 
of Thy Blessed Presence. Thou art Tapas in Thy essence ; 
Thou art the embodiment of Tapas ; Thou art the sum 
total of all Tapas ; and Thou art the innermost soul 
of every kind of r .Tapas. The whole universe do I see in 
Thy resplendent form. Thou hast no beginning and Thy 
nature is beyond the ken of any, man or god. Lord ! I 
take my refuge in Thee and Thy boundless mercy. " ' 

And to him replied the Lord, " Again do I say unto you 
that you have won my grace. You are pure as Purity 
itself and I can refuse you nothing/' 

Then the son of Marlchi submitted unto him a prayer 
in all humility, " Great One ! grant Thou this boon unto 
Aditi and unto the gods who pray it of Thee. Deign 
Thou to be born as our son and let the world know Thee 
as the younger brother of Indra, whom Thou hast placed 
over the gods. Bender Thou a signal service thereby to 
the distressed J)6vas. And this holy spot shall, through 
Thy grace, deserve the name of Siddhasrama, for, Thou 
goest forth from this spot when Thy object has been 
accomplished. ' 

" Be it so," rejoined the Lord and was born of Aditi 
as Varnana. Intent upon the good of the woilds, did 
He approach Bah as a dwarf and say, " Great Giver ! 
grant me this prayer of mine, three short feet of earth," 
and He got it. Thrice did He put forth His mighty foot 
and the three worlds weie covered with it. Bah was 
shorn of his overwhelming pride and might and Vtliiiana 
gave back the sovereignty of the \s orlds to Indra 

This hermitage is ever associated with the presence 
of the Lord and ever my heart turns to it with unbounded 
devotion to Him. Here do the Kkshasas resort, the 
untiring enemies of the peaceful sages and their sacrifices ; 
and here it is you should lay them low, the evil ones. 
This day shall we reach it, the holy Siddhasrama and it 
is yours as much as it is mine," 


Very soon they were within its sacred precincts and 
then it was that Visv&mitra shone in all his glory, even 
as the cloudless moon resplendent in the constellation 
of Purnarvasu. There he was welcomed by the numer- 
ous ascetics of saintly life that made Siddhtoama their 
home; right reverently did they accord unto him due 
worship and no less hearty was the welcome the} 7 extended 
to the princely pair. The brothers rested themselves for 
a while and approaching their master, said, " Lord ! if 
thou so wilt, thou mayest take upon thyself the sacrifi- 
cial vow even to-day. Rightly has this place been named 
Siddh&srama, for, thy object shall, of a truth, be realized 
here." " May your words prove true," replied Visv&mitra , 
and with restrained senses and concentrated mind, did he 
take upon himself the initiatory vows. In that peaceful 
hermitage the princes passed the night in the sweet 
company of the holy sages. At the dawn of day they were 
up and offering their prayers to the Goddess of Twilight. 
Their religious observances for the morning over and the 
mystical recitations of the Mantra^, they touched the 
feet of their Teacher, who, having finished the offerings 
unto the Fire-god, was seated in calm repose. 



The valiant princes were no mean judges of time and 
place : they knew when to speak and where ; and in words 
respectful and apt, did they address Visv&mitra : " Lord ! 
kindly acquaint us with the precise time when we should 
be on our guard against the wicked R&kshasas ; for, we 
do not wish to be taken unawares and be late." 

The assembled sages there were loud in their praises 
of the heroic brothers and the martial ardour that 
characterised their words and actions. " Six days and 
nights from this, do ye keep strict watch against the cruel 
ones. The Holy One has taken the sacrificial vow and 
will observe silence." And for six days and nights did 
the youths of boundless energy keep watch and ward 
over the hermitage. They put their heroic souls into 
the arduous task and were wholly absorbed in it ; and 
Visvamitra, safe under their protection, went on with 
his sacrificial rite uninterrupted. 

On the kixth day, Rama turned to his brother and said 
" Lakshmana, be on the alert and keep a sharp look out." 
And even as he spake and prepared himself for action, 
did the sacrificial altar begin to glow all on a sudden. 
Lovely flowers were scattered over it and the utensils of 
sacrifice spoons, ladles, pots, pans, fuel-sticks and the 
sacred grass. Visvamitra was conducting 
and silent, while the Adhvaryus andthe^, 
him therein. And to the deep intona 
Mantras to drive away the black demor 
proceed according to the rules laid dc 
once the fire leaped up ; and close up| 
frightful roar proceeding from the si! 
Bftkshasas were upon them, shroudec 

^d A 


clouds that darkened the earth, even as during the heavy 
rains the effects of their powers of illusion. Marlcha 
and Sub&hu and their followers ranged themselves in the 
sky and kept up a continual shower of blood on the fire- 
altar. The fire blazed up again, higher than before, as if 
in angry protest against this foul desecration ; and answer- 
ing fires flashed forth from the eyes of R&ma as if reflecting 
the blood-stained altar. He rushed to the spot and look- 
ing upwards, saw the foul demons ranged aloft in terrible 
array, darkening the darkened sky. All at once did the 
two foremost, M&rlcha and Subhu, swoop down upon him, 
even as unclean birds of prey ; when, Kama turned to his 
brother and said "Lakshmana, lo! there they come, the 
wicked wretches, the destroyers of numberless holy rites. 
Unsightly cannibals these, the dread foes of the celes- 
tials, yet tough and unassailable even as thunderbolts. I 
cannot somehow bring myself to slay such like chaff, small 
game for me ; yet shall I drive them away, even as fleet- 
footed clouds before a gale." 

With that, he sent forth a Manavastra, flaming and 
terrible in its energy and it that struck Marloha full 
on the chest. Back he flew with resistless speed, hundred 
ydjanas and more, until he fell senseless and tottering 
into the depths of the tossing ocean. 

Amused at the sight, Rama turned to Lakshmana 
c< Wonderful indeed is the Cold Arrow, the mighty Mana- 
viistra and just in its punishment. See, it has struck him 
senseless, but keeps yet the spark of life in him, as if it 
divined my secret resolve to spare him against a future 
occasion, when I have use for him. And as for these, his 
friends and followers, I shall even destroy the wretched 
crew, merciless, of foul lives, delighting in deep draughts 
of human blood, the foes to every holy rite and sacrifice." 

So saying, and as if to display his quickness of hand, 
he let fly an Agn6y&stra at Sub&hu, which struck him 
square on his heart and hurled him down, a shapeless 
corpse. And ere the eye had time to wink, he let fly a 


V&yavyastra that despatched the rest to " where the 
wicked cease from troubling, " to the immense delight of 
the sages, who were anxiously watching this strange 
fight, between a delicate slip of a boy and the fierce- 
vibaged K&kshasas of vast bulk and might. They could 
scarcely bring themselves to believe what they saw it 
was over so soon ; but, when they realized the wonderful 
truth, they broke forth in unstinted applause and hearty 
blessings and eyed K&ma with strange awe and reverence, 
even as the Gods regarded Indra when he came back 
victor from his terrible battle with the Asuras. 

The sacrifice neared its happy end ; the earth and the 
sky \\ ere clear and happy once again, when Visv&mitra 
turned to R&iua and said, " Now my heart knows peace, 
in that my object has been accomplished. Well hast 
thou discharged the bidding that thy Guru laid on thee. 
And rightly has this hermitage been named Siddh&srama ; 
you have but confirmed the fact and conferred greater 
glory on it." 

Thanking thus the boy-hero in words sweet and noble, 
the sage proceeded to his evening prayers, accompanied 
by the gratified princes. 



There they stayed for the night, the heroic youths and 
it was a happy night to them ; in that they had succeeded 
in their mission. Next morning they were up at day- 
break and having finished their daily observances, went 
over to where Visvamitra and the other ascetics sat. 
Reverently they saluted their Guru, who blazed forth in 
his splendour even as the smokeless flame and said to him 
in sweet accents and noble " Here we are, thy servants to 
command ; what are our orders for the day ? Nay, 
far be it from your noble heart the thought that you 4 
are working us too much, royal youths delicately nurtur- 
ed and daintily brought up. There was a king whom 
gaunt Famine drove to sell his only son to a low-born 
hind ; would the boor work the boy less for being a prince ? 
We are yours, body and soul , for, our sire has made us 
over to you , and here is our place at your feet, until you 
have no more use for us." Even so Joes the Lord seek 
out His cli'ddren and render tliem sweet service and 

Visvamitra replied for the other sages and said, " Jana- 
ka, the righteous ruler of Mithila, is even now celebrat- 
ing a grand sacrifice ; and if it is not inconveniencing you 
greatly, we very much like you to come with us. Besides, 
there is for you a sight to see a gem of a bow, wonderful, 
of inconceivable strength, blazing in its energy. It was 
given by the Gods to a former ruler of the land during 
a great sacrifice. Neither the Gods nor the Gandharvas, 
nor the Asuras nor the Rkshasas, can so much as string 
it ; why speak of puny mortals ? Nay, not that there 
were wanting countless princes of mighty arm who essay- 
ed that impossible feat desiring to gauge the power of 
the weapon. So, there are two things to attract you 


thither the holy sacrifice and the wonderful bow. It was, 
as I told you, got by a king of old, as the reward of a 
great sacrifice he performed in honor of the Gods ; who, 
pleased therewith, gave him the excellent weapon. It 
forms the chief object of adoration in Janaka's palace and 
he offers reverent worship to it every day with bright 
flowers and sweet perfumes and incense. " 

He ended and prepared to set out along with the ex- 
pectant princes and the holy ascetics. Taking affectionate 
leave of the Wood-Gods that had sheltered him so long 
in their midst he said, " May all good be yours. Long 
have I sojourned under your kind shades and to-day I 
take reluctant leave of you, the object of my stay among 
you joyfully accomplished. I go forth hence to the Hima- 
layan heights, over across the GangA.." Reverently he 
went round the hospitable abode and set his face towards 
the north. 

And him followed a hundred conveyances of Brah- 
mavadins ; and wonderful to behold ! the birds and the 
beasts that dwelt about the holy hermitage went after 
the mighty sage of righteous vows, until he pressed them 
to return. 

They travelled a long distance, until the sun hung low 
in the heavens, when the company encamped on the 
banks of Sona. They took their evening bath in the 
sacred stream and having made offerings unto the Fire- 
God, sat down before Visvaiiutra ; the princes approached 
the group and with low reverence to the elders, took their 
seats in fiont of their Guru. Eama it was, that started 
the conversation by a question to Visvfimitra. " May I 
pray you to satisfy my great curiosity about this region 
where we are ? Thickly wooded and well-watered, to 
whom does it belong ?" And the sage, who loved nothing 
more than to converse upon things good and holy, spoke 
as follows, induced thereto by Rama, while the sages of 
stern austerities drank in the tale with eager ears. 

3348 14 



There was once a righteous king, Kusa by name, one of 
the mind-born sons of Brahma the wisest and the mo>t 
valiant. Unlike Narada and the Kumaras he chose the 
Path of Action ; and leaving his bright home on high, he 
took upon himself the onerous duties of a Ruler of men ; 
hence his name Kusa. Ever respectful unto the good, be 
was ever intent upon the discharge of the duties of his 
high office and acquired immense spiritual merit by his 
hard austerities. 

He took unto wife a piineess of Vidarbha, who was, 
in every way, a meet wife for such a holy king , and 
she bore unto him four sons, all like unto their sire in cha- 
racter and might Kusamba, Kusanabh.'i, Adhflrtarajas, 
and Vasu. The old king was extremely pleased with his 
worthy sons of truthful speech, righteous lives, bright 
presence and boundless energy ; and following the tradi- 
tions of the kings of old, he spoke to them, " Keign ye over 
the earth and acquire inestimable merit thereby." 

And, in obedience to their father's commands, did the 
four princes found four excellent capitals Kaus&mbl, 
Mah6daya, Dharmaranya and Gririvraja, respectively. 
These are the dominions of Vasu, the last of the brothers. 
See you yon hills, five m number, that guard the country 
like giant sentinels? And there is the lovely stream, 
S6na, of great sanctity, that runs like a silver garland 
among the hills and waters the land of Magadha ruled 
by Vasu. It is a lovely spot, fertile, well-watered and 
healthy, the site of ancient kingdoms now no more. 

Kusan&bha, the royal sage, had by the Apsaras, 
Ghrit&chl, a hundred graceful daughters. One day, these 
girls, young and lovely, took it into their heads to enjoy 
a walk in the royal gardens about the city. They were a 


charming sight to see, these youri and lovely maidens, 
in their gems and gemmed robes, even as clear pools of 
Crystal wateis in the rains. They had a happy time of it 
among the arbours and bowers, dancing and singing and 
leaping and frisking. 

And it so chanced that V&yu, the Lord of Air, beheld 
them in the gardens, in all their ravishing loveliness, in 
the pride of their youth and charms. Like bright stars 
between murky clouds shone they ; and V&yu was stirred 
even unto the utmost depths of his fickle heart. " My 
heart goes out unto you, every one, ye lovely ones ! Be 
mine and crown my days with sweet happiness. Cast off 
aside that mortal nature of yours and enjoy immortal life 
in my company. A pitiable sight that youth of mortals 
even as a streak of lightning in a dark sky ; a blinding 
flash and lo ! it is gone. But I shall endow you with the 
deathless youth and beauty of the Immortals themselves." 

Long laughed they and loud at these presumptuous words 
of the Wind-Clod, whose might none can resist and live. 
" Thou coursest ever in the bodies of beings, high and low, 
and no one is unacquainted with what you are and what 
you can do. Verily it becomes you not to insult us thus 
with your proposal. Know you not that we are the daugh- 
ters of Kusaiidbbha and that it is but child's play to us to 
hurl yon Indra from his seat of power ? But we waste 
not our energy on trifles. May that time never come 
about, when, out of a perverted heart, we will presume to 
insult our parent of truthful speech and ourselves choose 
our husbands. Our sire is our master and our God ; and 
they are our lords whom lie pves us to." 

Enraged at the bold and defiant words of the girls, 
VAyu's heart was shaken with wrath ; and putting forth 
his might, did he distort their graceful limbs out of all re- 

In great grief and shame, they rushed into their father's 
presence and fell at his feet with sobs and tears. The 
sight of his dear daughters, once so lovely and happy, but 


now so crooked and deformed, and out of their wits 
with shame and grief, stirred his placid nature to its 
very depths, and he exclaimed " What is this, my dears I 
Who has dared to insult the Great Law of Hight thus 
flagrantly ? Who has made you crooked and distorted ? 
What ! all silent ! and weeping ! ' 

In fierce rage he hissed forth his questions, like a hood- 
ed snake about to strike ; but, mastering himself with a 
mighty effort, he sent forth his clear spiritual eye before 
which nothing was hidden. 




Thereupon the hundred daughters of Kusanabha laid 
their heads at his feet and spake " Vayu, Pervader of all, 
would even compel us to his wishes ; and forgetful of all 
sense of right and duty, had he recourse to evil ways. ' We 
are under our reverend sire' we pleaded ' and are not our 
own masters. Ask thou our sire, if he would give us to 
thee as wives/ He would not listen to us ; but with a heart 
bent on evil, made us what you s-ce, even while we \veie 
earnestly pleading with him." 

Then the King, a rare model of patience and virtue, re- 
plied to his afflicted daughters in accents mild and gra\e. 
" Well have you clone and gloriously. Forgiveness should 
characterise the life of eveiy one laying any claims to selt- 
restraml and serenity; and you have borne patiently a deadly 
insult, I cmnot enough praise your harmony of spirit and 
action, in that you have all acted alike and kept before vcur 
eyes the traditions of our race , for, forgiveness ^ the bright- 
est je\\e! in the crown ot a woman ; nay, for the matter of 
that, man as well. Hard task for a girl to bnue a man's 
wiles and seductions harder to have a giant's strength and 
not u^e it like a giant, in the face ot deadly insult , hauler 
still not to burn one's wings at the bale ul hres ot celestial 
beauty, harder still to keep back our thunderbolts when \\e 
have the right to launch them against the mighty gods and 
the chance ; and lo ! hardest of all, wondci ot \\ondeis ! ! 
the wayward hearts of a hundred maidens (whossc name is 
trailty) beating all one stroke and acting in perlect unison. 
Endowed with Forgiveness, a man n^ed not go seek tor any 
other virtue Charity, Trmh, Sacrifice, Fame, or Righteous- 
ness ; for, Forgiveness rules the world and holds it up.*' 


Mightier than the very Gods, vet he sent them away v 
and consulted with his wise mimsteis as tj the marriage of 
his daughters, the time, the place, and the parties. 

It was about that time, a great sage, Chuli by name, 
piactised the Brahma Tapas, with pure life and chaste 
vows ; and all along, a Gandharva, Somada by name, the 
daughter of Urmila, attended upon him devotedly, with 
lestiamed senses and righteous heart. Gratified with her 
service, the Holy One saw into the record of Time and 
.spoke " Fair Lady ! well hast thou served me and won 
my favour. Is there anything I can do for thee ? " 

She marked that he was in a mood to give ; and in 
sweet words and apt, did she pray the Blessed One, who 
vvao no mean speaker himsel 1 . u Lord ! I make po differ- 
ence between thee and the supreme Brahman, sj great thy 
Tapas and so mighty the Brahmic splendom that crowns 
thee. I would c\eu ha\e a son ; endowed with Brahma 
Tapas No husband do I take, nor does any claim me as 
his \Vi l e Give me a son, in that I approach thee accord- 
ing to the Brahma mode oi marriage.' 1 

Pleased with hu purity ot heart and nobility oi pur- 
[X'St, Chuh gave her a mind-born son, named Brahrmdatta. 
Kampilya made he his capital and held s\\av there as 
splendidh as India over his heavenly realm. 

And Kusanabha made up ms mind to bestow his 
hundred daughters on Brahmadatta. Respectfully did he 
unite him to his city and pray him to accept his girls m 
marriage. And lo ! the moment Brahmadatta took them 
by the hand, their deformity and grief dropped away from 
them like a dark cloak and they shone, if possible, with 
greater loveliness and grace than ever ; whereat the father's 
heart knew no bounds to its joy to see them freed trom the 
evil spell cast upon them by Vayu. Later on, he sent them 


away with their husband to his capital, with splendour 
becoming their rank and his sense of joy. 

Somada, the fond-mother, rejoiced most at the glorious 
choice her son did make. She could not fondle her 
daughters-in-law enough nor praise their noble father. 


Yisvamititfs Ancestry 

His daughters gone away trom him, the childless Uthu 
set about to perform ante to get a son to continue his line 
on Earth. When he was busy about it, Kusa, his lather 
and the mind- born son ot Brahma, came down unto him 
and said, "Son! verily vou shall be blessed with a boy, a 
righteous one after yom own heart. Gadhi T vou shall call 
him ; and he shall hold up \oui name t> unparalleled 
renown in the worlds foi all tune tune to COIIIL/* Ik- spoke 
and vent back to the high world of Brahma, e\en as he 

And in &oocl time did Kusanabha see a son nom unto 
him and Gadhi \\ashisnamc a marvel ot vntuc and holiness. 
Him am I proud to call my sire, Gadhi the ximt , i am a 
Kansika and a decendant ot the godlike Ku^a. 1 have a 
sister too, Satyavati, born betore me, who is j^iven in marri- 
age to Kiclnka ; ever devoted to her husband, she tolloued 
him to Swar^a in her mortal body. But soon she came 
down on Earth, as the holy stream Kausiki , heavenly in 
her origin, ch irming and crystal-like in her purity, my sister 
has devoted herselt to tne good ot humanity. And out ot 
the gieat love I bear to my dear one, do I like to abide at 
her siue, on the slopes 01 me Himalaya, whence she Ho\\s. 
Ever sieadtast in truth auU righteous* my sister Satyavati, 


the paragor of wives, stays in her mountain home ; while I, 
in pursuance of the vow I have bound myself by, have come 
down here, even to Siddhasrama, far far from my beloved 
Mster ; and deep is the debt of obligation I am under to 
your godlike valor, in that you have enabled me to accom- 
plish my desires. 

Well, it is now past midnight; and I have been keeping 
you all from sweet sleep, by my accounts of my own 
ancestry and of the country where we P 1 <' n rvv, as you 
desired to know of me. And now, seek ye the arms of 
repose ; else \\ill our journey to-morrow be delayed Not 
a breath of air stiis the leaf of yon trees ; beasts and 
birds have sought, ere long, their silent abodes ; and 
Ni^ht has spread her black pall over the earth and every part 
thcreol. The shades of twilight are gradually fading away ; 
and dark Night keeps watch over the sleeping earth and 
flashes foith bright glances from many a starry eye and con- 
stellation And vonder comes the Queen of Night, the sil- 
very Moon, chasing the darkness from off the Earth \\ith 
her cool and clear rays and infusing jov and gladness into 
the hearts of all beings. Behold the Rangers of the night, 
beings that lo\e the shades of darkness, hosts of Yakshas, 
Rakshasas, and terrible monsters that batten un human 
flesh/ 1 

He ended , the auditors shook of the spell that lay deep 
upon them and with one voice cried, " Well, hast thou 
spoken, Holy One'' and rendered him thanks meet and un- 
stinted praise. " Noble is the race of the Kausikas and ever 
intent upon Right and Virtue ; and the kings that adorn 
that line, mighty souls, even as the Great Father Himself. 
And not the least, your Holy Self, that has acquired ever- 
lasting renown ; iur is your sister Kausiki a whit behind 
these, the best of streams and the bright gem in the crown 
royal race of Kusa." 


And to the sound of their sweet praise, did Visva- 
mitra sink into the lap of sleep, even as the resplendent Orb 
of Day retires to rest behind the Evening Hill. The Royal 
brothers: were no less warm in their heart-felt praises of 
their master and with minds filled with awe and wonder, 
sought their rude couches and cuurted calm repose 


Ganga and Uma. 

Yisvamitia and the sa^es with him rested there 
toi the night on the banks oi Sona At day-break, he 
loused the sleeping princes and said u The dav dawns and 
the morning t\\ihght comes on apace. Quit thy slumbers, 
dear Rama, and prepare to stai t '' 

They went through the morning prayers and were about 
to set out, when Rama addressed* himself to the sage and 
said u Master, this Sona runs shallow, her clear crystal water 
dotted with small sandy hillock^ Which wav shall we 
cross it ?" 

To which the sage replied, ' Our friends even now are 
taking the route I advised them to." They crossed to the 
iurther bank and proceeded on their journev, ieastmg their 
eyes on the beauU'ul scenery ot hill and dale, forest 
and stream, mountain and valley. At noon, they broke 
their lournev (tor they had covered a long way since 
morning) on the banks of the sacred Ganga, the 
delightful lesort of saintly abcetics. The sight lilled the 
brothers and the sages with supreme joy, the broad waters 
forming the home of many a s\\ in and other gay aquatic 
bird sporting fearlessly. There they pitched their quarters 

and having bathed in the holy river, they offered libations 

B is 


of water to the manes of the departed. Then devcut 
w^rshin to the sacred Fire and a hearty meal of the 
sweet f > d '^fiered hereunto. Once again they met and sal 
round Tr isvamitra, of wondrous wisdom, when. Rama took 
upon himself to draw out the sage and started the conver- 
sati m. 

" Master mine, great is my desire to know how the 
Gang landing in the high heavens, came down to the dark- 
Earth and flowing through the three worlds entered the Lord 
of Waters M 

Questioned thus, Visvamitra proceeded to recount t),t 
onjin ind the Jiistoi\ 01 Ganga. " Himavan the monarch 
of mountains and the storehouse of everything rich amV 
valuable had by his wife Manorama,thc graceful daughtei 
of Meru, two daughter^ of charming beauty Ganga was 
the elder and Uma the younger. The Devas prayed 
Himavan to grant them the picsence of G<m<;?i to accom 
phsh certain ends of thcus With a pbilant!u.>pk hear . 
did he allow them to take her away, the 1) Jv nvei wh he 
water puniies everything it touches. (rl.ul bcvond all 
description at the ready affabihtv ot the tatlier, the Devas 
invited her to their world, ever intent upon domi* good to 
all beings But Uma the younger* steadfast m virtue and 
purity, entered upon along and difficult course < I Tap as , at 
the end ot which, her parent t'ave her as wife to Rudra, a 
meet bride-groom for the woi Id-honored maiden of mighty 
spiritual energy. And now, Kama, have I related unto you, 
as well as I can, the origin of Ganga and Uma, the 
daughters ot Himavan and the honored objects ot the 
World's worship; as also how Ganga of Three Courses went 
to the region ot the Shining Ones. The holy stream before 
you is none other than she, wholrom her mountain home in 
the Himalaya, carried her sin-cleansing waters to the high 
heavens of the Immortals, 



Uma's Curse. 

The brothers listened to the recital with pleasure and 
respect and when the Master had ended, Rama questioned 
him again. "Wonderful indeed is what you have related and 
holy ; and now deign to enlighten us on the history of the 
elder daughter of the M'^-vrh > c M'unHms.Tell umn detail, 
for thou knowest best, her buth in Heaven and Earth. How 
did she come to take three different courses and purify the 
three worlds ' Narrate her adventures therein and how she 
came to bear her name Tnpathaga." 

Thus addressed, the sage of immeasurable spinuial 
lustre, descanted at length on the \\ondertul narrative to the 
assembled ascetics. "CK yore, Mahadeva, the Black-throated, 
oi: boundless energy, took Uim unto wife, and overpowered 
with desire, began to disport himself with her Hundreds 
of years passed away and Mahadeva knew it not. But there 
was no issue born of them ; whereat, Brahim and the Devas 
began to tremble for the consequences. If a son should 
chance to be born unto these, who could bear him ' S y 
they approached the Divine One and prayed unto him ui 
trembling agents, " Supreme Lord* Ihou art evet intent 
upon the wel are o< the worlds Turn a merciful ear to the 
prayers oi Tby children, the Angels ot Light. The worlds 
are unable to beai the fiery energy ol Thine. Engage Thy- 
self with the Great Mothei in Brahma Tapas. Have pity on 
the worlds > restrain Thy energy in Thy uwn body. Pro- 
tect Thou all beings , it behoves Thee not to annihilate 

" Be it so" replied Mahadeva. "I and Lima shall retain 
our respective energies within our own bodies. Let the 
worlds rest in peace and your hearts too. But, my energy 


has moved out of its receptacle and must break out ; whom 
then have you among yourselves to receive it?" 

" The earth, O Lord, will take unto her Thy energy 
that might happen to escape Thee." 

Then Mahadeva let out his energy on the earth and en- 
veloped her entirely with her mountains and forests. There- 
after, the Godb spoke to Agni " Enter thou the energy of 
Siva, terrible to approach and let Vayu assist thee therein. 1 " 

Permeated by Agni, it was transformed into a white 
mountain and in course of time, a clump of ho)y reeds 
sprang thereupon, brilliant as the Sun or the Fire. And 
from it was born Kartikeya, of great energy, the son ot 

Threat Gods and sages praised high Siva and Uma, 
their hearts filled with joy at the great danger being avert- 
ed. But Uma, the daughter of the mountain-king, spoke 
bitter words and sharp tu the assembled Gods. " Reap ye 
the fruit of your crooked ways. Ye have caused me gnet 
and disappointment ; and for your pains take this mv curse 
upon \ou." Forthwith she took up water and, her \\hole 
frame glowing with rage and her eyes red with the lire ot 
wrath, launched a terrible doom at the trembling Gods. 4< Ye 
that have dared to interfere with my pleasures, ye that have 
dared to come between me and the dearest object ot my 
desiresson to gladden my heart, ye shall never have 
sons born unto ye of your own wives. From this moment 7 
your wives shall be childless." 

Next she returned tu the affrighted Earth and her an- 
gei shot out against her. "Vile creature, many shall be thy 
forms and many thy lords. Evil-minded One, thou envied 
me a son and succeeded in depriving me of one ; but 
my wrath has power to deny thy heart any comfort arising 
from a child born unto thy loins." 


Rudra glanced an eye of pity at the Devas, win), 
like guilty things, hung down their heads in shame; and pro- 
ceeding to the Nor Hi- west, engaged himself in stern Tapas 
in the dark woods that clothe the charming slopes of the 

Thus have you heard from me, the narrative of Uma 
the daughter of the mountain. Now shall I relate unto you, 
the origin of Ganga, the elder sister." 

The Birth of Eartikeya. 

Meanwhile, the Devas wanted a general to lead them 
against the Asuras and they approached the Grand-Sire and 
prayed unto him for one. " Lord, he whom you gave unto 
us to lead our armies, is ever engaged in Tapas along with 
his consort Uma. Advise us what to do next. Do we 
not look unto you for help, guidance and support ? The 
welfare of the worlds is dearer unto you ; do you point 
out the course of action best for us." 

The four- r aced One calmed the fears of the Shining 
Ones and spoke to them encouragingly. " The words of the 
Gieat Mother shall prove true and you shall not have childrea 
bom unto you of your own wives ; never shall it be 
otherwise. Now, Agni shall bring forth a son of Ganga, 
who is even now pun c ymg your worlds. He shall be the 
General <*f the Gods and the terror of his foe*;. Uma, her 
sister, shall take the child unto her heart and he shall be to 
her even as the child of her womb. 

These words rejoiced the hearts of the Gods ; they 

took reverent leave of their Leader and went back even as 



they came. Proceeding to the Kailasa, nch in metals, gold 
ad gems, they directed Agni to bring forth a son to accom- 
plish their ends. "Oh, thou ! the Leader of the Gods and the 
.JLight of the world ! help us in our need and bring us good. 
Of great splendour thou, direct thy energy towards Ganga, 
the daughter of the Monarch of mountains." 

"It shall be even as you desire" replied the Lord of the 
Fire and approaching. Ganga, said to her, "The gods desire 
that thou bear in thy womb my unfailing energy and bring 
forth a son to serve their purpose." " With great pleasure" 
replied she and assumed a divine form, whereat he marvelled 
greaily ; and discharging his fiery energy on all sides, he 
permeated her in all her limbs with his fierce might. And 
Gan^a was penetrated through and through, even unto the 
utmost ends of her body. But it was too much even for 
hn , the all purifying One ; and she cried out unto the Priest 
ot the Gods in utter helplessness. " Lord, I feel powerless 
to bear within me thy terrible energy that is even now 
<:on,^ummg me." Even as she spcke, the flames grew and 
grew until the agony became too intense for her. 

Thereupon, Agni, out of the great pity that wrung his 
heart, said unto her, " If so, Ganga, let out that which is in 
thy ,womb at the foot of Himavan ; may be it will relieve 
thee of your pain and misery. The holy river gladly has- 
tened to obey him and the refulgent Embryo was directed 
through the various streams that had their origin in her f 
And what came forth from her womb was of the hue of the 
molten gold and was known in the world from that day as 
Gold, pure and shining From the pungent element thereof 
were produced copper and black iron, while the impure 
parts ot it were converted into brass and lead. Thus were 
the diverse metals brought forth into existence and grew 
apace. The mighty mountain turned ot the colour of gold 
and the forests around it were filled v.ith the unbearably 


bright energy of that which proceeded from Ganga's womb. 
Thenceforth that gold was known among men by the name 
Jatarupa, radiant even as fire. The trees, the grass, the 
creepers and everything therein was converted into gold, 
Kanchana, so called. 

Indra and the other gods arranged that the Krittikas 
should nurse the boy. They took him as their child and 
upon a promise thereunto from the Devas, suckled him. 
41 This boy,'" said they, " nourished by you from the milk 
of your breasts, shall take your name and the world shall 
know him as Kartikeya. Unparalleled shall be his renown 
in the worlds/' The Knttikis washed him free and pure of 
the faetal impurities that ad crcd to his body, when he drop- 
ped from the womS of Gan^a .it the foot of the Himalaya. 
" Skanda he shall be called" exclaimed the Devas, " as he 
was dropped from the womb ;"' and Kartikeya was known 
by that name also. 

The Divine boy shone in his supreme r< diance even as 
the snit keless flame. Milk streamed torth from the breasts 
ot the Kritukas and wonderful to behold ! the child put 
forth six heads and six mouths to draw his sustenance from 
his six foster mothers. In the slurt tpa.c of a day, he grew 
unto his full height and strengih. Oi matchless grace and 
beauty, it was but child's play to him to put to rout the 
asbemMed hosts of the Daily as. The Celestial hosts gathe- 
red round him with peans ot joy an 1 with common consent 
crowned him as their Lord and Leader ,md installed him in 
his proud post. 

Thus have I narrated unto you, Rama, the wonderful 
episode rf Ganga and the birth oi Kartikeya from her. Su- 
premely holy is this and he whose he irt is drawn in devo- 
tion and reverence, towards the Divmu Child, his days shall 
never grow less on earth ; and blessed with sons and grand- 


sons without end, he shall, when he quits that body, be 
taken unto the highest heavens, even where Kartikeya re- 
sides.' 1 



Here ended his tale and Visvamitra tonk up another 
narrative. "Rama, my son, there lived an ancestor of thine 
by name Sagara, a righteous ruler and a great hero ; 
and Ayodhya was his capital. His heart yearned for a son, 
but in vain. Kesini, the eldest daughter of the ruler of 
Vidarbha, was his first wife, truthful of speech and righteous 
minded ; and Sumali, the fairest of the daughters ot the 
earth, was his second wife, the child of Anshtanemi. 
He retired to the Bhngu Prasravana among the Himalayas, 
and along with his wives performed stern Tapas. A hundred 
years passed over hib resolute head, when Bhngu, the best 
of those that speak truth, was pleased by his Tapas, con- 
ferred upon him a boon. "A mighty race shall spring out of 
thy loins, and thy glory shall be unparalleled on the earth 
and undying. One son shalt thou have, through whom thy 
race shall continue on earth ; and thy other wi f e shall give 
thee 60,000 sons " Theieupon the queens appioached him 
reverently \vilh joined hands and glad hearts. " Thy words 
shall ever come to pass ; but which of us shall have one son 
and which many * Deign thuu to enlighten us on this vital 
point/' "It is for you to choose," replied the righteous 
Bhngu, " one son who wjll continue y^ur line or many SJHS 
lam, us vahai.t and energetic bevond conception, Su*t 

Then Ktsim chjcs^ be tore the king a single sen to pro- 
pagate the race ; and Sumati, the niece of Garuda, chose 


60,000 sons famous and mighty. His purpose served, the 
Icing and his queens returned to their kingdom. 

In course of time, Kesini, the elder, brought forth a son 
who was named Asamanjas, while Sumati conceived a lump 
of flesh. They broke it and forth issued 60,000 sons. The 
nurses brought them up in vessels of clarified butler, until 
they arrived to years of maturity. 

The eldest son, Asamanjas, amused himself with throw- 
ing the children of the townsmen into the dark waters of the 
Sarayti and laughed at their dying agonies ; so, yielding to 
the prayers of his subjects and to his own unerring sense 
of justice and duty, Sagara banished that wicked son oi his, 
a terror to his people and an eyesore to the good. But 
Amsuman, his valiant son, endeared himself to all, high 
and low and was the idol of their hearts. 

Long years after, the thought came to Sagara that he 
would celebrate a sacrifice. He consulted his priests and 
chaplains well versed in the Vedas and set about the holy 

Sagara 's Horse-Sacrifice. 

When the narrative came to an end, Rama said to Yis- 
vamitra with a pleased heart " Hail to thee, thou Holv One ' 
Great is my desire to hear the story in all its details ot how 
my ancestor celebrated that sacrifice ?" Greatly amused at 
the eagerness displayed by Rama, Visvamitra replied with a 
smile. u Nothing would give me greater pleasure. See you 
yon abode of Snow and Ice, the sky-topped Himalaya. He 
is the father-in-law of the Black Throated One and faces 

H, 16 


proudly the far famed Vindhya ; and between them lies a 
broad and similing land. Regard it as one of the holiest 
spots on the earth, for, countless have been the scanfices 
performed therein ; and your ancestor of honored memory 
the righteous Sagara, celebrated his Aswamedha there. Am- 
suman, the favourite grandson of the monarch, was directed 
to go along with the consecrated horse and guard it. A mighty 
warrior was he, King Sahara and a famous general ; and while 
he was duly conducting the sacrifice, Indra assumed the 
shape of a Kakshasa and spirited away the consecrated horse. 
Thereat, the sacrificial priests cried out to the king " The 
consecrated horse ha* been taken away on this all important 
day. Slay the robber and bring back the horse. Such a 
de f ect as this is fraught with danger to all of us. So, see to 
it that the sacrifice comes to a safe and speedy end." 

Thereupon, the mighty monarch turned to his sons (there 
were 60,000 of them) and addressed them in the pride of his 
power and glory,. " No room see I for any Rakshasa to 
interfere with this sacrifice of mine, conducted as it is by such 
able priests as these, with souls purified by powerful Mantras. 
So, heed ye these words of mine ; go forth, my sons and 
search this sea-girt earth through and through, every inch of 
it if ye come not upon them. And I shall stay here, con- 
secrated, with my grandson and the priests, till the horse 
come back," 

Ordered thus by their honuied sire, the valiant sons of 
Sagara issued forth with en then fearless quest with cheeriul 
hearts. They searched the surface of the earlh from end to 
end, but found not the horse nor the tine 1 . Then they began 
to delve into the earth, a yo]ana every one of them, with their 
adamantine nails, with tridents hard as thunderbolts, and with 
terrible ploughshares. Whereupon, the patient Earth, thus 
pierced in her vitals, began to emit loud cries of distress, 
rendered all the moie terrible by the fearful shrieks of the 


dying Nagas, Asuras, Rakhshasas and other mighty creatures, 
whom, in their wantonness, the infuriated sons of Sagara 
slaughtered by thousands. Yet they dug into the bowels of 
the earth for 60,000 yojanas and ranged far and wide 
through the mountain jus Jambudwipa. Thereupon the 
g ods, the Gandhrava?, the Asuras and the Pannagas, sought 
out the Great Ancient and addressed him with aftnghted and 
woe-begone countenances. "Lord ! behold these wicked sons 
of Sagara piercing into the very bowels of the earth and 
slaying the creatures therein by hundreds and by thou- 
sands. Hear them shouting. ' Lo ! there goes the thief ! there 
is the daring wretch who Iras laid his impious hands ' on 
the sacred horse and spoiled the precious sacrifice! and count- 
less myriads go down before their blind fury/' 


The Wrath of Kapila. 

The Father o all beingb listened to these words of the 
trembling Celestials who \vere out ot their wits through fear 
of destruction. " This earth*' said he "and everything it con- 
tains belongs to the Lord Vasudeva, who, as Kapila, Mippurts 
it for all time ; and these wicked princes shall, of a truth, be 
consumed by the fire of His wrath. The delving of the 
earth and the destruction of the short-lived sons of Sagara 
have been fore-ordained/' 

The celestials departed to their abudes with, a glad 
heart. And great was the uproar caused by the valiant sons 
of Sagara delving into the bowels of the earth. Haung tnus 
sought above and below, they came back to then sue and 
^aid to him reverently. " We have searched the entire earth 
through and through and put to death powerful and mtghty 
beings, Gods, Danavas, Rakshasas, Pisachas, Uragas, and 


Kinnaras, by hundreds ; but we have not set our eyes upon 
the horse nor the daring robber. Hail ! mighty monarch I 
we await thy further orders." 

Thereat Sagara was exceedingly wroth and cried out 
"Delve further and yet further, even unto the innermost limits. 
Find me out the robber and come back with the horse at any 

Thus ordered thereto, the 60,000 sons of Sagara dug even 
unto the Rasatala, until they came upon the huge elephant 
Virupaksha, supporting on his head mountain-hke, the entire 
globe with its mountains, hills, forests, rivers, towns and 
hamlets. When the Mighty One shakes his weary Head during 
the Parva days to ease himself, then men have what they call 
an earthquake. They went round him and paid him due wor- 
ship? whereafter they pursued their undeviating course. 
Having pierced through the Rasatala in the east, they turned 
to the South and lighted upon another elephant of vast propor- 
tions, Mahapadma, likewise supporting the entire globe on his 
head a sight that filled them with amazement. They went 
round him too and piercing through the west, observed another 
elephant, Saumanasa, who bjre the earth in that quarter. 
Him too they reverenced and made kind enquiries of, after 
which they set about to pierce towards the North, when there 
came to view the snow-white Bhadra, of immense proportions, 
upon whose broad head rested but lightly the entire mass 
of the globe in that quarter. Having paid unto him due 
reverence, they took leave of him and pierced yet deeper into 
the earth ; coming to the North-east they dug deeper yet, fu- 
rious with disappointment, that endowed them with superhu- 
man strength and fierce speed. 

When, lo! there appeared before their startled eyes 
Kapila, the incarnation of the Eternal Vasudeva ; and hard 
by, the long-sought-for horse, grazing quietly, the innocent 


cause of all their trouble and misfortune. Almost besides 
themselves with joy at their success, they rushed forth 
with eager hearts ; but, the sight of the Holy One,whom 
they concluded to be the robber of the horse, roused 
them to insensate fury ; and with eyes inflamed with wrath, 
they flew at tiie sage, armed with spades and swords, shovels 
ploughshares and mattocks. " Stop thief I stop thief f " not 
one of them was mute. '* You are the wicked wretch that 
spirited away the sacrificial horse and right dearly shall you 
pay for it Know you who have come for you ?. Even the 
sons of Sagara, the terrible." Hardly were those impious 
words out of the mouth of the doomed sons of Sagara, than 
the wrath of the mighty sage blazed forth. ' Hum,' he cried ; 
the eye had scarcely time to wink, when the 60,000 sons of 
Sagara vanished from sight ; a heap of ashes marked the 
place \\here they had stood a, moment ago, in their proud 
strength and fiery manhood. 


Amsuman's Quest. 

Finding his sons had been away an unconscionable 
long time, Sagara turned to his grandson who was resplen- 
dent m his own energy, u Brave you are and well educated ; 
vou are not behind your forefathers in prowess or energy. 
Bring me news of your parents and of him who has mide 
away with the hor^e. The beings that inhabit the interior ot 
the Earth are of terrible might and power ; arm yourself 
against them with your b nv and sword. Offer reverence t o 
those that deserve it and spare not those that might seek to 
hinder you ; come back unto me with news of success and 
enable me to complete this sacrifice." 


Thus directed by his noble grandsire, Amsuman set 
out in hot haste on his quest, armed with sword and bow. 
Following his grandsire*s, direction, he soon came upon the 
path dug into the bowek of the earth by his valiant fore- 
fathers. He took that away and came upon the Dig-gaja 
honored by the Daityas, Danavas, Rakshasas, Pisachas, 
Pannagas, and Uragas. He went round it, inquired after 
its welfare and respectfully asked for news of his parents, 
as also of the horse-thief ; to which the Elephant replied 
*' Son of Asamanjas T soon shalt thou come back with suc- 
cess and the horse with you. The other Elephants, whom 
he came upon, confirmed the glad tidings. " Soon shall we 
see you come back honored and with the long-lost horse." 
Extremely intelligent and no mean speakers themselves, they 
encouraged him with the fresh hopes by their prophetic 
assertions. On he hastened to where his ill-starred fathers 
lay, a heap of ashes. His heart burst with grief at the 
miserable sight and in a loud voice he bewailed the untimely 
and shameful fate ot his uncles. And there was the sacn- 
iicial horse grazing all innocently near by, as if 'it was not 
their evil destiny. 

He desired to offer libations of water into their manes, 
but, search as he would, not a drop of water could he find 
any where. Casting his eyes around, he espired the uncle 
of his uncles, even Garuda, the Lord ot Birds, shining with 
the binlhance of the Lord of Fire. And to him spake the 
valiant Garuda " Grieve not, noble son ; they deserved their 
death. They perished even in their pride, burnt to ashes 
by the inscrutable might of Kapila's glances ; and to these, 
libations of earthly water would do no good. Nothing but 
the sacred waters of Ganga, the eldest daughter of Himavan, 
the all purifying stream, should wash these ungodly ones 
reduced to a heap of ashes , then and then alone shalt thou 
be able to raise thesxs 60,000 victims of foolish temerity to 


the Abiide of the Blessed. Take thou the horse back with 
thee and enable thy grandfather to complete the sacrifice." 

And the valiant Amsuman obeyed him with a heavy 
heart. Soon he stood before his grandsire and acquainted 
him with tne details of his quest, the unhappy fate of his 
sires and of the advice of Garuda. Sagara listened to the 
terrible news with a breaking heart and hastened to complete 
the rite according to the rules. He returned to his capital, 
but, he could not decide unto himself what course to adopt 
in the matter of bringing down Ganga to the terrestrial 
regions ; and thus, in doubt and anxiety, in aimless thought 
and ceaseless remorse, did he pass a\vay to the Regions of 
the Immortals. And his reign on earth was 32,000 years. 

Bhagiratha's Penance. 

When Sagara was gathered unto his forefathers, his 
subjects decided that his righteous grandson Amsuman 
should reign over them. He was a mighty m march, Am^u- 
man and bore a ton by name Dilipa, of peerless fame. And 
resigning the kingdom unto his hands, did Amsumin seek 
the Holy Heights to penorm fearful austerities. Years 
32,000 passed away and unto him in his forest hermitage 
came the call to Heaven, to which he departed, crowned with 
undying glory. And Dihpa, coming to know o- the destruc- 
tion of this grandfathers, was overwhelmed wuh grief and 
at a loss how to act. " How shall I bring djwn G-inga ? 
How shall I orfer them libations of luly water > How shall 
I deliver them from their miserable plight ? " This soirow ate 
into his heart, day and night. And unto him endowed 
with Divine Wisdom through his steadfast adherence to 


Right, was born a son, Bhagiratha, who, in saintlmess of 
character, excelled his father, if that were possible. Many a 
sacrifice did Dihpa celebrate ; and for 32,000 years the 
people rejoiced under his benign rule. But, unable to 
come to any definite conclusion as to how to raise his fuie- 
fathers to heaven, he died of a broken heart, having lived, as 
he thought, an aimless life. He installed his son in his place 
and won the Heaven of Indra by his peerless merit. 

Bhagiratha, the royal sage, had everything he could wish 
for righteousness, spiritual might ; but he yearned in vain 
for a son to continue his line on the earth. So, entrusting his 
kingdom to his able ministers, he resolved to bring down 
Ganga and he took himself to the sacred Gokarna, where he 
spent long years, thousands of them, in performing terrible 
austerities. Placing himself in the midst of five fires, he 
withdrew his senses into Ins heart ; with his arms raised high 
above his head, he bent all his powerful will to accomplish 
his purpose, taking but a slight sustenance once a m inth. 
Then unto him thus engaged in his holy task, there came 
Brahma, the Lord of beings, the Giandsire, and in his wake, 
the Angels of Light and spoke thus to the high-souled One, 
" Bhagiratha ! Lord of men ! pleased am I with you and the 
unparalleled Tapas you have gone through. Ask of me 
what you wilt and you shall have it." And unto the Great 
Father the noble-hearted king replied with reverently clasped 
hands, " Lord f If I have found favour with Thee, it 
my Tapas is to bear any fruit ; even this I would have at 
Thy hands. May the sons of Sagara, every one of them, 
receive libations water at my hands. May the holy waters 
of celestial Ganga flow over their ashes. May the Great 
Ones rejoice in heaven for ever. And Jet me have a son to 
gladden my heart. And more than any other thing, this boon 
would I crave of Thee. May the race of Iskhwaku ever 
remain upon Earth/' 


To him spake back, in words sweet and glorious, 
the Four-faced One, the great Fashioner of Men and Worlds, 
" Mighty hero thou, Bhagiratha, it is a royal request and 
shall be even as thou desirest. ^ he royal race of Ikshwaku 
shall owe its undying fame to thee. Ganga, the first- 
born of the lofty Himavan, shall obey thy behests ; 
but the Earth cannot stand the force of the Celestial River 
as it comes down from the regions on high. I see no one 
that could bear it safely, unless it be the Wielder of the 
Trident, even Mahadeva. Hence, do thou seek to engage 
him in that mighty task." Having thus advised the king 
and having directed Ganga herself as to what she should do, 
he went back to his Radiant World, accompanied by the 
celestial hosts. 

Descent of Ganga. 

Sj spake Brahma and went away , and Bhagnatha 
went through another year of hard austerities. With arms 
lifted high over his head, straight as a pine, motionless 
as a rock, he supported himself solely on his toes. Thus he 
remained day and night, the air his only food, self-controlled 
and calm. 

When the dreadtul year came to an end, Maheswara, 
the Spouse of the golden-hued Uma, stood before the royal 
sago ; and the World-honored spake, in accents sweet and 
grand, " You have won my favor and I shall do your plea- 
sure. I shall even bear upon my head the Daughter of the 
Mountain. 1 ' 

Thereupon the noble river Ganga, honored of all beings, 
increased her size and force unbearable and from the lofty 

B 17 


heavens, fell upon the peace f ul head of Siva. " For," thought 
she, of irresistable might, " I will carry away Sankara along 
with me, and enter the nether regions/' The Three-eyed Hara 
was highly wroth at this overweening pride of Ganga and re- 
solved to hide her from all sight. S ) ; when the Holy Stream f ell 
on the sacred head of Siva, even like unto Himavan, she could 
never come down on earth, though she tried her best, 
entangled as she was in the maze ot Mahadeva's lofty coils 
of matted hair. And her senses giddy with aimless wander- 
ing through the pathless labyrinths, tor countless years she 
found not her way out. Seeing which, Bhagiratha again set 
himself to please Siva through austerities stern. 

Siva's heart rew sott towards him and he let her 
down gently to the earth, even where the Lake Bindu 
stood, Ganga came down from his coil sin seven streams, 
of which Hladim, Plavmi and Nalmi carried their pure 
and holy waters to the east , Suchakshu, Sita and Sindhu 
flowed through the happy kingdoms ot the west; and 
the last followed in the wake of the loyal sage Bhagiratha, 
who, shining in his lustre, went before in his beautilul car. 
From the high heavens she fell on the head of Siva and Irom 
thence to the earth ; and her waters rushed fast and furious 
with a mighty sound, rendered the more terrible by the 
countless hbh, tortoises, porpoi-es, and other aquatic creatures, 
ceaselessly falling from on high. And hosts ot the Celestials 
came there, blazing in their effulgence, to behold that 
wonderful Descent of Ganga into the regions of the 
Earlh Devas, Ru-his, Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Siddhas ; 
all sea!ed on their countless swilt-Gnirsmg cars huge as 
cities, on horses and noble elephants they stationed themselves 
along the firmament, which, without the slightest suspicion 
of a cloud, shone as ii with the splendor of mvnads of 
suns, thrown back from the bands ot Celestials and their bril- 
liant ornaments. The porpoises 2nd the fish falling down the 


waters flashed like lightnings along the welkin ; and the 
thousand white sprays thrown up by the waves on all sides 
reminded one of the autumn cl nids with crowds of swans 
flying athwart them. Now swift, now slow; now straight 
like an arrow, now crooked like a miser's heart ; now with 
a sudden fall, now shooting upwards ; now mighty waves 
striking against one another and rising high in the air> 
anon fall upon the earth with a sound of thunder. Descend- 
ing upon the head of Siva and from there to the earth, the 
waters became purer and holier. The gods, the sages and 
the Gandharvas that came down to the earth, touched the 
Holy Waters, rendered unmeasurably so by having come into 
contact with the body ot Siva. They that had fallen down 
on earth through curses dire, washed themselves pure of 
their sins in its sacred waters and regained their lost homes 
in the heavens ; the whole world rejoiced thereat and their 
souls were white as driven snow. 

The royal sage Bhagiratha went before on his splendid 
ear ; and Ganga, obedient to his least wish, followed in 
his footsteps. Gods, Sages, Daityas Danavas, Rakshasas, 
Gandharvas, Yakasas, Kinnaras, Uragas, and the Apsarasas 
followed joyfully the Holy River, that, teeming with count- 
less aquatic creatures, coui>ed after the car of Bhagiratha. 
Wherever the king went, there was the Holy Ganga, the 
iirst and the best oi streams, the destroyer of all sins. On 
its way, she took it into her wilful heart to flow through 
the sacnhcial grounds of the holy sage, Jahnu, and swept 
away everything therein. Such pride and audacity worked 
up the mighty sage to an uncontrollable pitch of anger 
and he drew into himself the waters of Ganga. Verily it 
was wonderful to be hold. The gods, the sages, and 
the Gandharvas were struck with amazement and sought to 
soothe the wounded dignity of the great sage by every mark 
of honor and respect. " This Ganga said they <* shall be 


henceforth known as the Daughter of Jahnu.^ Then the sage 
of immeasurable energy \vas somewhat mollified and let uut 
the waters through his ears ; and hence she earned the names 
"The Daughter of Jahnu" and " Jahnavi.' ' Again she resumed 
her course behind the car of Bhagiraiha, until she reached 
the vast ocean ; and thence proceeded towards die Rasatala 
for the accomplishment of his purpose. 

The royal sage, having, after unheard of difficul- 
ties, taken Ganga along with him to the nether regions, cast 
his eyes, with a sinking heart, upon his ancestors reduced to 
a heap of ashes. The holy waters of the Ganga bathed the 
pile and the owners thereof, purified of their sins, ascended 
to the High Heavens. 

The End of the Quest. 

Accompanied by Ganga, the king reached the ocean 
and came to that place below the Earth where his ancestors 
lay reduced to ashes. 

When they had been washed by the holy waters, 
Brahma, the Lord of the worlds, came to the place and 
said, " The 60,000 sons of the noble Sagara have been 
freed from their evil fate and raised by you to heaven, 
even like unto the gods themselves ; and as lonq as fire 
waters of the ocean shall endure on enrth, even so long shall 
these enjoy the bliss of Swarga along with the Immortal 
Dwellers thereof. This Ganga shall be to you as a first-born 
daughter and shall be celebrated in tlie world under the 
names you gave her Ganga, Tnpathaga, Divya, and Bhagi- 
rathi. She flows through the three worlds and hence her 
name Tnpathaga. Offer libations of water unto the manes 


of your grandfathers, every one of them and accomplish 
your vow. They that went before you were unable to 
accomplish their object, highly famous and born of righteous 
ancestry though they were. Amsuman of unequalled energy, 
desired to bring down Ganga and succeeded not. The 
royal sage, your sire Dihpa, of noble attributes and like unto 
the great sages in Spiritual Energy, wrought hard to bring 
down Ganga, but the rays of success dispelled not the gloom 
of his heart, albeit he was unswerving in the discharge of 
his kingly duties and equal to me in ascetic merit. But, you 
have been able to accomplish your high resolve ; and, best 
of men that you are, you have earned the highest glory ever 
given unto mortals to possess and ever approved of by the 
best; you have reached the loftiest pinnacle of righteousness, 
in that you have brought down the holy Ganga. Bathe in 
the sacred waters and rise pure and endowed with high reli- 
gious merit. Forget not to offer libations ol water unto the 
manes of vour ancestors. I shall go back unto my world 
and give y^u leave to do the same/ 1 Thus spoke the Grand- 
sire of all beings, the great Brahma and departed to his seat 
in the highest heaven, even as he came. 

Thereupon, the royal sage Bhagiratha discharged his 
duties by hib fore-fat hers, even as the holy books lay it down ; 
his vow accomplished, he returned to his capital with enhanced 
lustre and glory and ruled his kingdom well and wisely. The 
world rejoiced when the king came back again among them 
and men knew not sorrow nor anxiety under him, but lived 
in happy content, every desire of theirs gratified. 


Thus have I narrated unto you. at great length, Rama, 
the episode ot Ganga. All hail to you ! thou noble one and 
may every good go with you. Let us disperse, for the time 
of the evening prayers is close at hand. This narrative is of 
extraordinary virtue ; it realises for you all your wishes fame, 
length of years, offspring, and the highest heavens. And 


you have no better way of pleasing the Pitns and the Devas. 
than by reciting this before the regenerate ones. He who 
listens to this with whole-souled attention and a devout 
heart, never desires in vain ; his sins fall away from him and 
his days increase on earth and his glory.'' 

The Churning of the Ocean. 

He ended in the midst of profound silence ; for, in awe- 
struck silence his hearers drank in his words with their ears 
and hearts. Rama was the first to break the spell and 
speak. " Reverend Master ! these episodes of the coming 
down of Ganga and the digging of the ocean by the sons of 
Sagara, how wonderful and strange !"" 

The audience took respectful leave of the sage to 
seek repose ; but, the princes lay awake, pondering over the 
marvellous recital, until the small hours of the dawn stole 
upon them. They rose betimes and having gone through 
the morning observances, approached Visvamitra and said, 
" Holy One ! the night passed away all too soon, rev Jvmg 
over the wonderful stones narrated by you. A boat, specially 
furnished for such holy ascetics as you, awaits your 
pleasure. Shall we cross this sacred stream over to the 
other bank ? 

" So be it * replied Visvamitra, and very soon they were 
on the other side of the river. They rested there awhile and 
from where they sat the towers of the renowned Visala rose 
into view. Soon they resumed their journey and wcie on 
their way towards the capital that vied in magnificence with 
the very abode of the Immortals. Ram.i took the oppor- 
tunity to question the Master about the city. " May I 
lequest to know which royal race rules here at present ?'' 


Visvamitra caught the hint and proceeded to recount the 
past history of Visala. " In the last Knta Yuga, the sons of 
Diti were very powerful ; while the sons of Aditi were mighty 
and walked in the way of Good. ' How shall we escape 
the decrepitude of age and the horrors of death?' So 
thought they, the Devas and the Asuras. At length, they 
hit upon a plan and resolved to churn the Milky Ocean and 
partake of the Ambrosia that would spring therefrom. That 
would ensure them Immortality. Well, they set to work in 
dead earnest ; the Milky Ocean was the churning pot and the 
Mount Mandara, the churn ; Vasuki, the king of serpents, 
was the rope, <and they churned with unabated energy for 
thousands of vears. Then, Vasuki, their rope, gave out, and 
vomited deadly poison from hi^ many mouths ; while, in the 
height of his agony, he crunched to atoms the hard granite 
of the rocks. 

First rose the fiery venom Halahala, and began to con- 
sume the affrighted worlds and everything therein men and 
godi-, birds and beasts. The Lords of Light sought the 
presence of Mahadeva, in his Home of Ice and Snow and 
lifted up their hearts and hands to him m humble prayer. 
" Lord of Beings ! Rudra of terrible energy ! Giver of all 
Good ! we take our re c uge in Thee and seek the shadow of 
Thy feet. Save us, Oh Lord ! from this cruel Fate. Thou 
art our stay and support." 

And to them thus engaged in heart-whole prayer and 
humble entreaty, there came the Lord Vishnu, his broad 
shoulders graced with the mighty Conch and Discus. And to 
the Wielder oi the Trident spake he in accents ot persuasive 
melody. " These gods here, churn the Milky Ocean and have 
come to offer you the first fruits of their hard labor. For," 
said he with a charming smile. "You, brother mine, aie the 
first-born among them and it behoves you to accept this 
Halahala as your portion and save them from destruction." 


He disappeared then and there, even while the sound of his 
sweet voice was still in the ears of his hearers. And the Moon* 
Crested One, moved thereunto by the abject fear of the 
gods and the request of Vishnu, repaired unto the Ocean of 
Milk and swallowed the dread Halahala, even as though it 
were a delicious draught of Ambrosia. His mission of mercy 
accomplished, he returned to his mountain-home and left 
the gods to resume their arduous work. 

But, a fresh misfortune was in store for them the 
Mount Mandara, their churn, sank from view, deep deep 
into the abysmal regions of Patala. Once again the Angels 
of Heaven, raised their voices in earnest supplication to 
the Guardian of the Worlds, even the Lord Vishnu. " All 
creation lives and moves in Thee and has its being ; but we 
are proud to claim a place in the warmest corner of Thy 
heart. Lead us out of this mishap and find a way to keep 
the mountain firm, while we churn the sea. 1 ' 

And Han, the Soul of Mercy, laid himself in the deep 
waters as a mighty Tortoise and bare the mountain on his 
back, while his extended hands grasped it at the top and 
steadied the whirling mass ; and wonderful to behold ! he 
stood among the gods and churned as assiduously as any. 

A thousand years of hard toil and there arose from 
amidst the seething waters, Dhanvantan, the God of Health, 
with staff and water-pot. Next the lovely Apsarasas, sixty 
thousand in number (their attendants, Rama dear, are 
past count). They were so called (Apsarasas) since the 
Charming Ones foimed the essence (Rasa) that sprang from 
the churning of the mighty waters (apas.) The gods would 
havetione of them, nor the Asuras ; hence they came to be 
common women, free to all, * 

Next came forth Varuni, the daughter of Varuna, the 
Lord of ) Waters, and looked about for some one who 


would take her to wife. But the sons of Dili turned away 
from her in haughtiness and pnde ; whereat, the gods took 
that stainless beauty unto themselves with a glad heart. 
Hence the name 'Asuras' that the sons of Diti went by 
(those that accepted not Sura or Varuni); while the gods 
rejoiced in the appellation of Suras (the Lords of Sura). 

Next Uchchaisravas, the Prince of horses ; then Kaustu- 
bha, the Gem of divine lustre ; and last, the Amnta, the 
Waters of Immortality. 

It was the apple of discord thrown in the midst of the 
celestials and they fought for it tooth and nail. Terrible 
was the battle that ensued between the sons of Aditi on 
the one hand and the Asuras, and the Rakshasas on the 
other ; and the hearts of all beings quaked in wild dismay 
thereat. Fearful was the carnage among the Asuras, and 
they were about exterminated. When the ungcdly sons of 
Diti were thus laid law, the Lord Vishnu, of unthinkable 
might, appeared among the combatants as a fascinating 
siren (a dream oi beauty to lure away the hearts of the 
unrighteous ones , verily an illusion cast by the Master of 
Illusions), and bare away the hard-won Amnta ; and 
they that tried to bar his wav, the unfortunate Asuras, fell 
no more to rise For was he not the ruler of the Universe, 
the Supreme One, who \\axes not nor wanes ? Thus were 
the impious brood ot Dili overwhelmed by the Angels of 
Peace, the seivants of the Lord ; and Indra, their king and 
leader, regained his empire over the worlds, gods and mortals, 
saints and sages and ruled wisely and well. 

The birth of the Maruts. 

When Diti saw that her numerous sons, the Asuras, 
destroyed by the Devas, her heart was heavy with 


grief; approaching her husband Kasyapa, she prayed 44 
him in all humility, " My children have been done to death, 
every one of them, by the powerful Devas, sprung of thee. 
F pray thee extend thy grace unto me and enable me 
to go through a course of austerities, whereby I might 
beget a son who would be the death of Indra." 

Kasyapa, of boundless might, heard her out and his 
heart was wrung with pity at the mother's grief " Be it 
as you desire. Observe for a thousand years a strict vow and 
holy, pure in body and heart ; and you shall have of 
me a son who will lord it over the three worlds." He passed 
his hands over her body, gave her his blessings and depart- 
ed to resume his Tapas. 

With a glad heait, Diti betook herself to the holy 
Kusaplavana and took upon herself to observe a long and 
difficult vow. And upon her thus employed, did Indra 
wait upon with humble reverence all the time He supplied 
her with the sacred grass, firesticks, water, fruits, roots and 
fire and every other article that she might require ; he 
pressed her limbs when she was tired, fanned l *er when she 
was hot, and was ever her right hand and shadow. 

Years 9990 passed away in this wise, when one day, 
Diti turned with a bright face to Indra (he was ever at 
her side anticipating her least wish) and said, " My dear, 
your father Kasyapa was kind enough to accord me a boon, 
that I would get an excellent son, if I observed a course of 
religious practices he instructed me in. Only ten short 
years of this severe ordeal and you will have the pleasure of 
beholding your younger brother. True it is I resolved 
upon bringing forth a son who would put you down ; but, 
my heart has been won over to you by your sweet kindness 
and watchful service. It shall be my care to bring about 


perfect harmony between you both, so that the three worlds 
Shall rest in peace and happiness." 

And upon them so speaking, the heat of noon came 
on apace ; and Dili, worn out with her fasts and' penances^ 
chanced, (inexorable Fate impelling her thereto) to fall 
asleep in a careless posture, the hair of her head brushing 
her feet. Indra, ever on the watch for the slightest slip, 
saw that she was impure and laughed in joy and derision. 
** Foul that you are ! you fondly imagine you have success- 
fully accomplished your long course of Tapas and pride 
yourself on being about to attain the result of your severe 
efforts." Then the dauntless Lord of the Angels made his 
entrance into her body and with his weapon, the sharp- 
pointed Vajra, hacked the embryo into seven pieces ; 
whereat, it began to set up a loud and pitiful wail. 

" Cry not, cry not,' 1 replied Indra ; but all the same he 
went on with his dreadful task. 

Diti awoke ; and from the depths of her agonised heart 
broke out the words, 'Slay not, slay not. n 

Indra desisted at the commands of his mother ; coming 
out of her body, he stood before her with reverently clasped 
hands and said, " Mother mine ! you happened to fall asleep 
during the day and that with the hair of your head touch- 
ing your teet ; you had rendered yourseJf impure and I but 
took advantage of the favourable opportunity to nd my- 
self of a rival who was growing to be my Fate. It behoves 
you to pardon me this offence of mine." 

The binh ot the Maruts 

Overwhelmed with sorrow and disappointment, Diti 
turned to the invincible Indra and said, " Oh thou, the 


destroyer of the Asura Vala ! verily it was through wf 
fault that this embryo of mine has been cut to pieces and 
rendered useless. No blame is yours, for, you but di4 
your duty and the hand of Fate directed you. However r 
it would give me great pleasure if you would grant me a 
request of mine. These seven pieces shall, gifted with 
forms of Light, rule ovei the various air-currents as their 
Informing Deities. Gagana in the world of Brahma, Sparsa 
in yours, Vayu in the Bhuvar Loka and Anila, Prana, 
Pranesvara and Jiva in the four quarters of the world of 
mortals. These shall range the various regions in peace 
and happiness and take the name of 'Maruts' that you have 
given them. It behoves you to do them this favor at 
least ; and I doubt not that it will redound to your own 
glory and power." 

So prayed the much-stricken mother, in accents sweet 
and persuasive ; and Jndra bowed reverently over his folded 
palms and replied, " Mother mine! on my head and eyes be 
thy commands. Thy sons, these seven brothers of mine, 
shall course through all the regions, illuminating them with 
glorious forms of divine lustre". Thus did Indra and his 
mother Diti make a covenant, which he faithfully observed 
ever after. And, mutually pleased, they departed to the 
worlds of the Immortals. And, Rama ! thix is the very 
spot where Diti was waited upon by Indra during her long 
and severe course of austerities. 

The royal Ikshvaku begat trom Alambusa, a son by 
name Visala, wno was the founder of the city that goes by 
his name. And Hemachandra, Suchandra, Dhumrasva, 
Srinjaya, Sahadeva, Kusasva, Somadatta of great lustre 
and renown, and Kakutstha, succeeded one another, father 
and son. And Sumati, like unto the Gods in radiance, 
rules at present over the happy Visala and is verily inym- 
cible. Through the blessings of, their founder 


hfc descendants by Visala are gifted with length of years, 
steadfastness in virtue and unparalleled prowess. Rest we 
here for the night and to-morrow you will have the 
pleasure of being welcomed by the royal Janaka. 1 " 

Meanwhile, Sumati, the righteous and holy, was inform- 
ed of the approach of the great Visvamitra ; and with his 
priests and kinsmen, hastened to offer him welcome. He 
extended unto his honored guest the highest ntes of 
hospitality and with folded palms, reverently inquired after 
his welfare. " First and best of sages ! thrice-blessed am I, 
in that you have, of your own accord, been pleased to honor 
my humble abode with your sacred presence. Surely, great 
is the favor I have found in your eyes and you have made 
me the envy of the three worlds.*" 


After mutual enquiries of welfare, Sumati addressed 
himself to the Holy One and said " Hail to thee ! these 
youths, who are they ' God-like in their might and of lordly 
^ait, even as the proud monarch of the forests or the 
majestic elephant or the tiger or the bull ; with large and 
lustrous eyes, like unto the rosy petals of the blown lotus ; 
combining in themselves the graces of the boy and the 
youth. Lo ! how they shine in their martial attire, bow in 
hand, the sword by their sides and the well-filled quivers 
peeping from behind. More like those heavenly Twins, 
the ideals of divine grace and beauty, the Aswins. Be 
these the gods themselves, come down of their sweet will 
to this dull earth of ours, from their bright home on high ? 
How chances it they have deigned to come all the way 
liere and on foot ? What seek they ? Whom are they here 
f otf f The T win Lords of the Day and the Night grace not 


than these princes this fortunate land Face t 
features, gestures, gait, speech, the keenest eye cannot 
distinguish the one from the other. These warlike youths^ 
these lords of men, why have they trod this wild path anil 
dreadful ? May I know the truth that lies behind this ? " 

And to his wondering ears did the sage relate the 
details of their journey their stay at Hie Siddhasrama, and 
the destruction of the Rakshasas at their hands. Mightily 
pleased was Sumati to have as his guests the noble sons 
of 4he ruler of Ayodhya and right royally did he entertain 
the valiant princes who deserved it so richly. They spent 
there a happy night and at day-break left for Mithila. 

1 he charming capital of fanaka filled the sages with 
wonder and delight, and they could not praise it enough. 

On their way, Rama noticed a lonely hermitage at the 
outskirts of the city, old, dilapidated and untenanted. At 
once he turned to his Master and said " This holy place 
reminds one of the spot that was graced by your august 
self, but for the fact that no ascetics bless it with their 
presence. Who dwelt here last, Master, if I may be allowed 
to inquire > " 

It required bui very little inducement to mike Visva- 
mitra hold eloquent discourse on the antecedents of the 
spot. " Listen to me while I narrate to you the wonderful 
train of events that culminated in the curse of this lonely 
hermitage by the great-souled Gautama. One of the 
fairest spots on earth this was, when he dwelt herein and 
with his wife, Ahalya, engaged in a long and severe course 
of Tapas. Why, the very gods frequented it tor its rare 
beauty and almost envied Gautama the possession of it. 

The Lord of the celestials luved the fair Ahalya and 
was ever on his watch for an opportunity to accomplish his 
wishes ; and one day he got it when the sage was away from 


his cottage. Approaching Ahalya in the guise of the holy 
Gautama, the Holder of Vajra exclaimed, " Oh thou ! thd 
fairest form that ever graced the Earth below or the Worlds 
above, a merciless tyrant is Love ; and no rules nor restric- 
tions that man can make, have power to stay his will. I am 
not master ot myself. Full well do I know it is not your 
reason, but what would you have me do? Fold me in 
your flower soft arms and let me lo^e myself in an endless 
dream of bliss ". 

She knew it was the Ruler of the Celestials that spake 
those words of delicious love, and not her hjusband, the 
sage ot restrained passions ; but, deep in her heart lurked a 
tender feeling for the poweriul Lord of the Immortals. 
She )ent an ear to -the tempter and was lost. Her long-de- 
ferred hopes realized, she spoke to him out of a glad heart. 

",Well pleased am I, Lord . and now leave thou this 
place ere it is too late. One word before we part. Let no 
fancied sense ol security blind thee to the perils of our 
position. Tike good care of thyself and stand between 
me and the dread consequence oi my act of folly ". 

But Indra laughed away her fears and replied " Fair 
one ! Never can I thank you enough for your sweet con- 
descension to my unworthy self ; and now,^ have I your 
leave to go ? " 

He spoke and hastened out ol the cottage, all afraid 
oi Gautama, whom his fluttering heart saw everywhere. 

Andh:' there advanced towards him the subject of 
his thought^ and fears, the holy Gautama, about to enter 
his hermitage. Gods and Asuras stood in hushed awe of 
him, such was his inconceivable might, engendered of 
severe austerities. Fresh from his bath in the sm cleansing 
Waters, he drew near, the sacred grass in his hand and^the 


bundle of firesticks. The steady flame of the smokeless 
Fit* shone not with more lustre nor was more ttmble in 
its all-consuming energy. The mighty Lord of the Shining 
Ones quailed in abject terror before the calm glance of 
Gautama that pierced into his very soul and read into the 
inmost depths thereof. His face grew ghastly pale, and 
to him, there standing false-hearted and unclean be ore the 
soul of the spotless purity, to him, m the borrowed leathers 
of the one in \\hose guise he came to perpetrate his foul 
deed of shame and iniquity, spoke the irate sage, scarcely 
able to control his fierce wrath. 

"Impious wretch ! that host dared to soil my pure abode 
with this nameless act of \vickedness and that in wy name 
and in my form ! It is but insufficient punishment to thee 
that thou be deprived of what served you to carry out your 
nefarious purpose. A man be thou to all appearance, but 
in reality, the mockery oi one a pitiful eunuch." No sooner 
were the words out of the lips of the angry Gautama, than 
the scrota of Indra withered and fell away from his body. 

Next, he turned himselt to Ahalya, Indra^s partner in 
guilt. " Lie thou here for thousands of years, long and 
weary, ever hungry, thy food the impalpable air and the 
grey ashes and dust thy cloak. No mortal eye shall see 
thee ; but an unquenchable tire shall ever consume thee. 
At a future age, there shall come across these wastes 
one Rama, the son of Dasaratha of unapproachable might. 
The a and then alone shall this dread fate fall away from thee; 
and honoring your Divine guest, thou shalt shake thyself 
off for ever from these bonds of ioul desire and foolish 
vanity ; then shall thy heart know peace and joy ; and then 
shalt thou take thy place by my side in all thy fatal 

He took his bright presence away from the ill-fated 
One and left this holy place for the pleasant peaks of the 


Himalaya, where the Angels of Light ever love to 

and there, in that calm retreat, did he take up his old 

course of life and its stern duties. 

Ahalya and Rama* 

Deprived of his vital organs, Indra sought out the gods, 
and the sages and cried out to them, with his senses all in a 
whirl through fear. " It was for you that I undertook this 
dangerous work. You wanted me to somehow or other spoil 
his Tapas by rousing his anger. And now you perceive the 
consequences that have followed myself deprived of virile 
power and my partner in guilt put away from her husband 
in anger. But, I have caused him to utter a curse, which 
has considerably lessened Ins might and energy acquired 
by long Tapas. Hence it is but fair and just that you do 
your duty by me, the instrument of your work and restore 
to me what I have lost through you. 1 ' 

Then the assembled Devas, the Sages, and the Charanas 
approached the Fathers and unto them spake Agm, as their 
spokesman. " Our Lord and Master has imprudently and 
blinded by passion, ravished the wife of the sage Gautama ; 
and in return, has been cursed for his pains? which has 
rendered him an object of pity and scorn, in that he has lost 
his virile power. Justly does he blame us for it, who 
set him on this task. You will do well to transfer the 
scrtoa of the goat to him ; accept it hereafter as a grateful 
offering and grant to your votaries the desire of their heart 
and endless merit besides/' The Fathers approved of the 
suggestion of Agm ; they took counsel among themselves 
and transferred to Indra the scrota of the goat. 

,. Thenceforth the Fathers have gladly accepted the offer. 
ing of the goat without its scrota and conferred on the 

R 19 


sacrificers the l>enefits they had enjoyed hitherto. FVoib 
that day Indra goes about with the scrota of the goat upon 
him, thanks to the terrible might of Gautama accruing 
through stem Tapas. Let us now, Rama dear, approach the 
sacred precincts of the holy hermitage. To you it is given to 
release from a living death, as existence of nameless horror, 
the noble Ahalya, the best and fairest in all the worlds, of 
gods or men/' 

Ever obedient to the commands of his master, Rama 
followed Visvamitra into the hermitage ; and Lakshmana 
after him. There they beheld the high-souled dame, her 
natural brilliance but heightened by the long life of penance 
and meditation through thousands of years. The Gods and 
Asuras, nay, the denizens of the worlds above and below, 
could not bear to gaze at the fiery radiance that surround- 
ed her like a halo. The Demiurge had fashioned her the 
fairest of the daughters of heaven or earth ; and it cost him 
no little thought and pains ! More like some fair creation 
of a divine artist in the golden hours of his imagination 
more like the radiant Queen of Night, her glory but dimly 
veiled by the dewy clouds ; more like the blinding efful- 
gence of the noon-day sun perceived through the watery 
vapours. There she had stood invisible to the eyes of 
Mortals and Immortals alike, through the curse launched 
against her by Gautama ; but now the hour hast struck for 
her release from her dire tate and lo ! she burst upon the 
wondering eyes of her visitorss like some sweet vision. 

The royal youths hastened to touch hei feet in all 
reverence ; while she, bearing in mind the parting direc- 
tions of her lord, offered unto them the highest rites of 
hospitality , which they accepted with a pleased heart. Flowers 
ot divine tragrance iell from on high ; the Gandharvas and 
the assembled Apsarasas discoursed sweet music, while the 
heavenly drums and other martial music thundered over 


head. " Bravo " cried the celestial hosts " well and nobly 
done 1 ' and paid high worship to the spouse of Gautama, 
Tvho shone in all her pristine beauty and glory, purified of all 
stain by long years of stern Tapas. 

Then there came unto them from his far-off retreat in 
the Himalayas the holy Gautama and the happy pair 
offered unto Sri Rama divine worship and reverence. 
Thereafter Gautama resumed his life of calm meditation and 
holy vows in the company of his wife, now restored to him 
after countless years of separation and suffering. On his 
part, the noble Deliverer, honored by the glorious reception 
accorded to him, took up his march to Mithila in the wake 
of the Holy One. 

At Mithila. 

They proceeded north east and shortly found them- 
selves near the sacnlicial grounds of Janaka. " Reverend 
Sir " said the princes to Visvamitra " splendid indeed are 
the arrangements that the great-souled Janaka has made for 
his sacrifice ; far as the eye can view, lovely cottages to house 
the sages dot the country, each with its ring-fence of wains. 
Methmks the Brahmanas from the far corners of the land, 
masters of the Vedas and its mysteries, have graced the 
occasion by hundreds and by thousands. Point out to us 
some convenient spot wherein we too may encamp " 
And accordingly did Visvamitra pitch their quarters in a 
place well-watered, calm and removed from noise and 

Janaka was at once informed of their arrival and in 
humble reverence advanced to welcome them. The Holy 
Satananda of spotless sanctity led the way, while the 


pther priests followed the Royal Chaplain with the 
of worship. Hjgh reverence and meet did they offer unto the 
honored guest, who deserved it so well ; Visvamitra accepted 
it with a pleased heart and enquired of the king his health and 
of the progress of his sacrificial rite. Janaka rendered proper 
reply to his holy guest and i ailed not to assure himself of 
their welfare and their pleasant journey thither. He then 
turned to Visvamitra and said to him with joined palms. 
" May it please your Reverence and your holy brethren to 
honor me by occupying these seats"; which they did accord- 
ingly ; and after them Satananda, the other priests, the King 
and his ministers. 

Having seen to it that all were comfortably seated, 
Janaka turned to Visvamitra and said. " This day, verily, 
have the gods been pleased to crown the preparations I have 
made for this sacrifice. To-day it is that I have realised 
the object of my holy toil in that I have set my eyes on you. 
Thrice blessed am I and honored above compare in as 
much as your Reverence has deigned to grace my sacrificial 
ground with your saintly presence and not less these ascetics 
of pure vows. Twelvt days more so say the wise ones 
and you will see the Gods come down here to accept their 
shares of the offerings." 

He paused and resumed, his face lit up with the joy 
within. "Hail to thee ' These youths, who are they > 
God-like m their might ; of lordly gait even as the proud 
monarch o' the forests or the majestic elephant or the 
tiger or the bull ; with large and lustrous eyes, like 
unto the rosy petals of the blown lotus combining in 
themselves the graces of the boy and the youth. Lo! 
how they shine in their martial attire, bow in hand, the 
sword by their sides and the well-failed quivers peeping from 
behind. More like those heavenly Twins, the ideals of 
divine grace and beauty, the Aswins. Are these the Gods 


themselves, come down of their sweet will to this dull Earth 
of ours, from their bright home on high ? How chances is it 
they have deigned to come all the way here on foot t What 
seek they ? Whom are they here for ? The Twin Lords of 
the Day and the Night grace not the sky more than these 
princes this fortunate land. Face, features, gestures, gait, 
speech, the keenest eye cannot distinguish the one from the 
other. These warlike youths, whose sons are they ? These 
lords of men, why have they trod this wild path and dread- 
ful ? May I know the truth that lies behind this, the visit 
of these fair-haired boys to my place/ 1 

And to him thus inquiring, did Visvamitra relate the 
visit of the royal sons of Dasaratha to Siddhasrama, the 
utter destruction of the Rakshasas at their hands, their stay 
at Visala on the way, the release of Ahalya from her dread- 
ful fate, their meeting with the holy Gautama, and last, their 
eager desire to have a sight of the rare bow in his keeping, 
that led them to fair Mithila. Thus did he recount to the 
wondering Janaka the details of their remarkable journey 
and paused. 

Visvamitra's visit to Vasishtha 

The words of Visvamitra filled Satananda, the eldest 
son of Gautama, with supreme delight the sainted One 
who shone in the ^plendour born of long austerities. And 
^reat was the wonder with which he gazed at Rama, the 
boy-hero. He turned his eyes from the princely pair seated 
there m calm repose and addressed himself to the happy 

" Mighty One ! you have my thanks unbounded for 
kindly enabling my mother, of great renown, to bless herself 
with a sight of Sri Rama, for which long years of penances 


and "rites 4 severe have prepared her. I h&ve no doubVghe 
offered due hospitality and meet worship to him whom all 
beings are blessed in honouring. It is a pity that she had 
nothing better to entertain him with, but the meagre 
products of the wild woods. I am sure Rama was made 
acquainted with the details of the unfortunate incident of 
yore in her life, that cruel Fate had in store for her. Verily, 
she has been restored to her lord and my sire, in that she has 
been cleansed of the foul stain that clung to her, thanks to 
the .all-purifying presence of Sri Rama. I hope Rama here 
was fitly entertained by my sire and rendered back unto him 
due respect, with a calm heart and restrained self." 

To whom replied Visvamitra, waxing eloquent over his 
favourite theme, " Nothing was slack, nothing went amiss ; 
it was my care to bee that everything ran smooth and to a 
'happy conclusion. Set your heart at rest, holy sir, for, 
Renuka was not nure happily reconciled to Jamadagm, than 
Was Ahalya to your sainted sire. 

Satananda drank in the words of the sage with delight- 
ed ears and addressing himself to Rama, spoke as .follows. 
c< Hail to thee, thou Loid of men, and glad welcome. For- 
tunate it was that you have been allowed to accompany the 
holy Visvamitra of invincible might. Wondrous deeds has he 
Wrought through his unparalleled Tapas. Matchless he stands 
in glory and no mean place holds he among the Brahma- 
nshis. Know him as the last and surest refuge from every 
ill. Blessed you are in all the words, for, it has been given 
to no other to be watched over and protected by the saintly 
One who stands conspicuously alone by his stern austeri- 
ties. Listen to me for a space, while I try to give you a faint 
idea of the wondrous deeds and might of this scion of the 
royal race of Kausika. 

The Four-faced One had a son by name Kusa . and 
froiff him were decended father and son, Kusanabha, Gadhi 


and Visvamitra who stands now before us. He was a king, 
great and powerful and ruled over his vast empire well and 
wisely for thousands of years. Steadfast was he in virtue and 
master of all the knowledge of his time ; his heart was, ever 
wedded to the well-being of the countless millions entrusted 
to his keeping. 

One day he took it into his head to make a tour 
through his vast dominions and the lands around. At 
the head of his numerous and well-disciplined army, did he 
pass through flourishing kingdoms and stately towns, across 
noble rivers and over high mountains, halting at every holy 
spot and hermitage, until he came to where the saintly 
Vasishtha abode. 

A lovely spot it was, a heaven on earth, Brahma's 
own celestial seat. Tall trees and stately spread their grate- 
iul shade around, under which grazed or played or reposed 
many a beast of the forest, tame and wild ; meek-eyed fawns 
ranged about, their natural shyness overcome by the sweet 
and peaceful ways of the calm-souled ascetics. Siddhas 
and, Devas and Danavas, Gandharvas and Kmnaras, 
frequented the lovely spot, while Brahmanshis, Devarishis 
and saintly Brahmanas made it their home. There were to 
be seen bands of hermits of fiery lustre who had perfected 
themselves in holy Tapas. Some fed on water, some on air, 
some lived on withered leaves, some on roots and fruits ; 
but all of restrained senses, oi sweet manners. Valakhilyas, 
to., thronged the place, intent on mystic recitation and 
devout sacrifices , while Vaikhanasas made the holy retreat 
holier still 

Such was the hermitage of Vasishtha and such the 
sight that met the wondering eyes of the mighty king. 


Vasishtha welcomes Visvamitra. 

Right glad was Visvamitra to see the best and foremost 
of saints, the holy Vasishtha and low bent he at his fee f . 
"Ever welcome" exclaimed Vasishtha and desired him to 
take his seat. Cheerfully did he entertain his royal guest 
with roots and fruits and such woodland fare: which accep- 
ting, the pleased monarch made respectful enquiries. All was 
well with him^eK, his sacred fires, his disciples and his hermi- 
tage. And to the royal Visvamitra who sat at his ease, did 
Vasishtha address himself the son of Brahma and the fore- 
most of those that lead a life of holv vows and devout 

"How fares it with thee, mighty lord of men ' Dost thou 
rule over thy subjects as becomes a worthy descendant of 
noble kings and win their hearts with the flawless discharge 
of thy high duties? Seest thou that thy servants want 
for nothing ? Do they yield ready and willing obedience unto 
thy commands ? Do thy enemies acknowledge thy might 
and pay thee low homage ? Is it all well with thy armies, 
thy revenues, thy friends, thy kith and kin * n ' 

"Yea, Holy One, fortune favours me still" modestly 
replied the royal guest. The hours chased one another with 
winged feet, as these two, the king and the sage, discoursed 
on themes high and holy, with mutual delight ever increasing. 
The discourse came to an end all too-soon, when the reverend 
host with a pleased smile addressed his noble guest, "Great 
is my desire to offer unto thy troops and no less unto thy 
valiant self, the rites of hospitality, as befits thy rank and 
might. I pray thee to accept it of my hands and deny me 
not. For, art thou not my liege, my favoured guest, whom 
I cannot honor enough ? 


11 That have you already done" replied Visvamitra " by 
your gracious speech, by the offer of such articles as your 
holy hermitage affords, sweet fruits, roots of the wild and 
crystal water to wash and drink ; and last, but not the least, 
thy presence, all-purifying. Honored have I been above my 
deserts, by the world-honored One. And now, give me kind 
leave to touch thy feet and depart. May I ever find favour 
in thy sight and a \varm place in thy heart ?" 

But the noble Vasishtha pressed him again and again 
to stay and he could not ungraciously refuse. " I obey" 
replied the proud son of Gadhi " I bow to thy sweet 
pleasure, thou Holy One". 

Then did Vasishtha, the sage of matchless might, call 
unto him the spotted calf Nandmi and say, " Haste thee 
hither, my sweet one and heed well, Sabala, to what I say. 
I have it at heart to entertain this pious king and his troops 
and that right royally. Do thou see to it that they have 
princely faie and sumptuous. None should desire in vain for 
anything ; be it meat or drink , food or viands of every kind 
and variety imaginable; sweet, bittei, or acrid, to taste, to 
sip, to quaff or to eat. No small store, mind thee, but rich 
abundance and over-flowing; lor, man nor god cannot crave 
for or dream oi anything, but thou can'st, in a moment, 
shower it upon him. This thou wilt do for my sake ; and 
again I say unto thee, tarry not". 

"Give me the Cow of Plenty ." 

So directed by Vasishtha, Sabala, the Cow of .Plenty, 
supplied every one with what his heart might desire, juice of 
the sugarcane, honey, fried rice, Maireya and such like cpstly 

liquors, delicious drinks, various kinds, of cakes, heaps of hot 

E 20 


cooked nee, curious varieties of deliciously prepared food, 
soups, Dadhikulyas (rice prepared with milk) and countless 
plates of silver heaped up with various sweet extracts and 
pies of six different tastes. 

The well-fed troops of Visvamitra, were, if possible, 
rendered more happy, and cheerful than before such was the 
grand repast to which they were treated by Vasishtha. On 
his part, the royal sage, Visvamitra, was mightily pleased 
with the magnificient entertainment he received at the hands 
of his saintly host ; and he spoke to him out of a full heart, 
that well appreciated the kind attentions shown to himself* 
his women, his officers, his counsellors, his priests, the 
Brahmanas in his suite and his numerous retainers. 

"Reverend Sir, right royally have I been entertained by 
you, the World-honored. Allow me, then, learned One, to 
prefer an humble request of mine. I shall consider myself 
highly obliged if you will give unto me this Sabala of yours 
and receive a hundred thousand cows in exchange. She is a 
gern, the best of her kind; and I need not say that with me is 
her lawful place ; for, know you not that the best and the 
rarest products of the Earth belong to the king, of right ? So 
give her, prithee, unto me". 

To whom, his saintly host and righteous gave calm 
reply, "Hundreds of thousands of kine, nay, hundreds of 
crores of them, nor heaps of silver, shall ever induce me to 
part with my Sabala. Mighty monarch! She cannot be re- 
rajved from iny side; as dear fami to the high-souled man, 
Sabala is eternally and inseparably wedded unto me. My 
offerings unto the Gjds and the Father*, to the sacred Fires, 
rmrnmg and evening, to the various orders of Beings, 
visible and invisible, my oblations during the full and the 
nsw imjiii, my sicri(i:es, my, my duly su$tenin:c, depend 
solely upon her ; the iiwlk that blie givos punti^ the heart 


and the intellect and goes to nourish the vital currents; it 
endows me with perfect health and serenity and enables me 
to master the various arts and sciences. Doubt it not; she 
is all in all to me; my sole source of delight is she and 
perennial. These and many other reasons besides, stand in 
the way of my not being able to comply with your request 11 . 

This emphatic refusal of Vasishta heightened but all the 
more the over-mastering desire of Visvamitra to possess him- 
self anyhow of the coveted Sabala. He waxed eloquent in 
his offers. "Fourteen thousands of lordly elephants with gol- 
den chains, necklets and goads; eight hundred chariots of 
gold, with sweet-chiming golden bells, drawn by four milk- 
white steeds; a thousand and ten high-bred steeds from thef ar- 
famed regions of Kambhoja and Bahhka, that trace their pedi- 
gree right up to Uchchaisravas and the Gandharvas; one 
crore of kine, young, healthy and of diverse colours; wilt 
thou take this and give Sabala unto me ? Thou will not ? 
Then, ask of me besides, gold and gems as much as will 
satisfy thy great heart, even to the utmost and it is> thine. 
Wilt give me Sabala now? 1 ' 

But Vasishtha spake stern and said "Oh, thou of match- 
less wisdom! know once for all that Sabala shall never be 
thine. She is my gems; she is my wealth ; she is everything 
unto me; she is my very life; the new and the full moon 
offerings, grand sacrifices with untold gifts of wealth, nay 
every rite lay or religions, all these is she unto me; for, it is 
to her that these owe their very existence. Doubtest thou ? 
Nay, thou hast my last word upon it never shall I give unto 
thee this Granter of Desires. Everything thou offeredest 
me nor can dream of, can I have of her by a simple wish of 
mine; why, then, I must be insane to wish to part with her 
to thee.' 1 


Sabala fights. 

When Visvamitra found that Vasishtha, would on no 
account part with the * Cow of Plenty,' he began to drag her 
away by main force. Whereat, Sabala, sad at heart and 
burning with grief, said to herself, "What? Has the noble 
Vasishtha forsaken me quite ? Has he delivered me oven 
sorrow-stricken and afflicted, to the king's attendants to be 
dragged away ? Never have I offended the lofty-minded 
sage, in thought, in word or indeed ; why, then, does he cast 
me off, innocent, faithful and dear to him and he the soul 
of virtue and justice ? " 

So she thought, while deep sighs shook her frame. All 
at once she made up her mind and shaking off the menial 
crowd that laid violent hands on her, as if they were but 
feathers light, ?he rushed past them, swifter than wind, on 
to where her master stood. With sobs and moans, grievous 
to hear, did she appeal to the saintly Vasishtha ; and in tones 
loud and majestic as of rolling clouds or war-drums huge, 
spake she forth her tale of woe. "Child of Brahma ? Lord ! 
the king's servants drag me away by main force trom your 
side. Is it that you have cast me off ?" 

To which the saintly One gave sad reply. Convulsed with 
grief, she stood before him and his own heart was wrung 
with pity to see her suffering so, dearer to him than a 
sister. " Know you not, Sabala, that I can never bear to 
have you away from me even in thought ? Know you not 
that you can never give me any offence, nay, the slightest ? 
I deliver you over into the hands of strangers! Nay, it is but 
yon king that takes you from me, by main force, against 
my will. A mighty monarch is he and immeasurably proud 
of his might. I am no match for him, for, is he not a great 
warrior, a mighty king ? He traces his line through ances- 


tors famed for strength of arm and valor of heart ; and above 
all, he is lord and master of wide lands with untold 
rfiJIlions to do his behests. Lo ! yondei stands his dread hosts, 
embattled in fierce array and countless as the sands of the 
ocean chariots, horses, elephants and infantry, beneath 
proud banners and pennons gay. Now, see you not that 
he is mightier than P" 

Sabala heard him out and in all humility rendered 
answer to the wise One. " Lord ! It needs no saying from me 
lhat a warrior's strength and might i? as nought before the 
radiant energy of a Brahmana ; for, it is not of the earth I 
divine in its nature, it lias its source from on high. Again I say 
unto you, a Kshatrya is as chaff before a strong gale, when 
he pits himself against a Brahmana. Know I not your potent 
might? that it is utterly immeasurable, inconceivable? Visva- 
mitra is a warrior bold, it is true but, what is he before 
your awful might, before your all-consuming energy. O 
thou of radiant glory ! speak the word and I, in whom is 
stored up that terrible Brahmic energy of thine, will, before 
the eye has time to wink, reduce to ashes yonder vast host 
that feeds his overweening pride." 

" Be it so. Bring forth, of thy might, armies that shall 
scatter to the winds the proud hosts of the king." 

No sooner did his words go forth, than Sabala uttered 
an awful "Humph"'; and close upon it came into view vast 
hoides of Paplavas, hundreds and thousands of them, and 
spread dire ruin and confusion among the ranks of the 
enemy, right before the eyes of the wondering Visvamitta. 

But, soon he recovered himself ; and roused to fury at 
the sight of his splendid army thus cruelly wrecked, he 
rushed forth upon them in his chariot of gold and with 
bloodshot eyes of anger, rained arrows and weapons, 
great and small, upon the opposing Paplavais, till they were 
laid low, every one of them. 


Sabaia, observing the sad plight of her wamor brood, 
brought forth in her wrath, fierce Sakas, Yavanas and 
Kambhojas. Of superhuman strength and valour and fair 
as the lovely petals of the bright Champaka, they marched 
forth in dread array against the foe, while their long swords 
and gold attire gave back a thousandfold the rays of the 
sun. They hid the earth from view, so numerous were they; 
and whereever they fell, the all consuming fire was not 
crueller. Which perceiving, Visvamitra, in sore straits, hur- 
led upon them his weapons of magical might, until the 
Yavanas, the Kambhojas, the Paplavas and the Sakas were 
scattered to the winds. 

Vasishtha and Visvamitra. 

Hard pressed by the Astras of Visvarmtra, the warriors 
brought into existence by the magic might of Sabala stood 
in sore dismay. Whereat Vasishtha turned to the Cow of 
Plenty and cried, *' O thou of infinite potency to create ! 
bring forth fresh troops through thy Yogic power inherent". 
At his word Sabala gave forth a mighty grunt and lo ! 
there stood before her, hosts of Kambhojas radiant as the sun ; 
from her udders sprang forth Paplavas, ready armed for fray. 
Yavanas from her organs of generation ; Sakas from her 
organs of excretion , and from every pore on her body rush- 
ed forth countless hordes of Mlechchas, Hantas, Kiratas ; and 
soon, nought remained of the vast armies of Visvamitra, 
horses, nor chariots, elephants nor soldiers. 

The sight stung to fury the hundred sons of the ruler of 
men and they fell, in a body, upon the solitary Vasishtha, 
that master of dread spells. " Hum" cried he and there they 
lay, a heap of ashes, before one can say lo ! They who stood 
forth a Fioment ago in the pride of power and the prime o 


strength, girt by countless bands of warriors, cavalry and 
chariots. Thus perished the fated sons of the monarch. 

And he, their father, a prey to impotent rage, gnawing 
shame and sore grief of heart. The mighty ocean stilled of 
its mountain waves by some potent word of power ; a serpent 
huge, of her deadly fangs bereft ; the resplendent Orb of 
Day in the merciless grasp of the eclipse, her blinding lustre 
suddenly quenched ; or a swift coursing bird shorn of its 
wings, was not more miserable than Visvamitra, the king, his 
pride broken, his energy lost and overwhelming grief heavy 
at his heart, his dear sons and proud army done to destruc- 
tion before his very eyes and he powerless to lift a finger 
in their de f ence. But, he resolved to live, if it be to wreak 
vangeance dire upon his proud foe ; and placing a son 
of his on the throne, he bade him rule well and wisely, 
laying to his heart the traditions of his famed ancestors and 
took his way to the dark slopes of the Himalayas, where 
Kmnaras fair and Uragas ever love to dwell. By dread 
austerities and stern vows he sought to propitiate Mahadeva. 
Long years passed over his head, till one happy day the ^ord 
of Kailasa stood before him on his mighty Bull, gracious 
of mood and most bountiful. 

" These penances severe, why, Lord of men ? Speak 
thou thy wish and thou shalt have it ; for I am the Giver of 
Boons and thou hast found favour with me. Speak and 
hesitate not. 11 Visvamitra bowed himself low m humble 
reverence before the Radiant Presence and prayed m accents 
meek. '' If it be true that my Lord is pletsed with his servant, 
I crave to be initiated in the science of war in all its branches, 
down to the minutest details. Reveal unto me its innermost 
secrets, its potent spells unknown to others. Grant Thou 
unto me perfect mastery over the magic weapons of the 
Devas, the Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the 
Rakshasas, sages mighty and heroes brave, in the worlds 

above or the regions below. All these and more through 
Thy illimitable grace be mine, whatever I desire. " So 
be it" assented Mahadeva and vanished from view. And 
the proud Visvamitra of matchless valour, happy in the 
possession of mighty wepows human and divine, grew 
prouder yet scarce could he contain his swelling energy 
that grew and grew even as the billowy deep under the 
stimulating rays of the full moon. The feeble Vasishtha was 
to him already dead and destroyed or so he thought. 

Straight upon the calm solitudes of the peaceful hermi- 
tage did he advance and let loose the fires of his wrathful 
vengeance in weapons of dire might, until a lonely waste was 
all that remained of the once lovely spot. Its saintly dwel- 
lers fled away in affright when the irate king level- 
led his magic shafts at their calm retreat. Hundreds and 
thousands of them scattered themselves all over the land, 
glad to escape the general destruction ; and after them, their 
numerous disciples nay, the very beasts of the forest and 
the fowls of the air followed them in hot haste. A moment 
ago it was a lovely scene of peace, innocence, gaiety, and 
calm meditation ; but now a lonely waste, over which the 
silence of death hung black and oppressive. 

But, Vasishtha, shaken at last out of his philosophical 
indifference, cried out time and oft, " Fear not, my friends ; 
him will I annihilate all to nothing, this proud son of Gadhi, 
even as the mjnung sun dispels the filmy dews of the night." 
Then that Master of magic potent, turned to the proud 
Visvamitra and hissed forth these dread words like winged 
flame. " Wretched fool ! that laid waste this fair hermitage 
of mine, the shelter and refuge of many an innocent thing, 
of many a noble sage, thy cup of iniquity is full and over- 
flowing. Thy hour has come;" 

He spake and scarce unable to contain his rising wrath, 
held aloft his magic wand, terrible as the smokeless Fire of 
Dissolution or as the fearful Rod of Death. 


Brahmana versus Kshatriya. 

It required but a spark to kindle the smouldering 
ire of Visvamitra and madly did he rush at his saintly host. 
" Stay, stay, thou braggart ! Barest thou to beard the lion 
in his den and Visvamitra among his troops ? And hopest 
thou hence unscathed to flee ? "'. And he hurled at him the 
flaming weapon of the God of Fire. 

But, Vasishtha, now roused to a pitch of fury at this 
unwonted return of gratitude, raised aloft his Brahmana 
staff not unlike the Rod of Death and cried, " Vile wretch 
of a Kshatnya ! I flee not. Here do 1 stay to give you a 
chance to parade your strength, your might and your brand- 
new weapons. Son of Gadhi ! mark my words. Your 
haughty spirit shall I quell and not lightly ; and your 
supreme conceit in the magical weapons you have come by. 
Pah ! your warrior energy ! It is as the morning mist before 
the burning rays of the Brahmana might. Fie upon you ! 
you standing disgrace to thy noble ancestors ! you will 
show off your child's toys before me, will you ? Well, you 
shall have a taste of my Brahmana might, divine in its 
nature, mind you'*. 

He spoke and lo ! the rushing Weapon of the Fire God, 
terrible to behold, was quenched out of existence, even as a 
stream of coJd water puts out a blazing fire. 

Speechless with rage and grief, Visvamitra sped against 
Vasishtha, that mighty Master of Spells, a continuous stream 
of magic weapons the dread darts of Varuna, Rudra, In- 
dra and Pasupati ; the Aishika, the Manava, the Mohana, the 
Gandharva, the Swapana, the Jnmbhana, the Madana, the 
Santapana, the Vilapana, the Soshana, Darana ; the invincible 
Vajra ; the noose of Brahma, of Yama and of Varuna ; the 

R 21 


Pinakastra, dear to Siva ; two bolts, the wet and the 
the Dandastra, the Paisachastra, and the Krauncbastra ; the 
Dharmachakra, Kalachakra Vishnuchakra ; Vayavyasfra, 
Mathanastra, Hayasiras ; two Saktis ; Kankala, Musala, 
Vidyadharastra, Kalastra, Trisula, Kapala, Kankana. All 
these and many more did he send forth against the serene 
Vasishtha ; and indeed it was wonderful to behold, the 
saintly son of Brahma swallowing them one after aiuther, 
with but his dread Rod. 

Thereafter, when his newly stocked armoury of 
magic weapons was exhausted, did the royal Visvamitra 
hold aloft the terrible Brahmastra and hurl it at his in- 
vincible foe. The God of Fire and his Fellows, the divine 
sages, the Gandharvas, the Uragas, and nay, the three worlds, 
trembled in sore affright and confusion, when they beheld 
the terrible Brahmastra speeding on its course towards 
, Vasishtha. But he, the sage of restrained self and stern vows, 
stirred not, nor lifted a finger to ward it off ; for, his mighty 
Brahmana Staff, charged with the immeasurable energy 
engendered of untold ages of meditation on the Supreme, 
absorbed it quite into itself and nought was left of it. Temble 
to see was Vasishtha, the mighty One, when he drew into 
himself that most powerful of weapons; and all creation stood 
in dismay thereat. Fearful to conceive was the supernatural 
brilliance of his form as the intaken energy poured itself out 
in flashing streams ot blinding light, even as-tiny sparks from 
a blazing fire. And his staff was enveloped in sheets of 
flame, like unto the snukeless Fire of Destruction or the 
Rod of Time. 

Then, the sages on high bent over their clasped 
hands and prayed in tones of humble entreaty. " Dread 
Master of Enchantments ! inconceivable is thy might and 
invincible ; quench thou his all-consuming fire by thy 
supreme energy, Visvamitra, of mighty Tapas though, has 

TftlSANKU 163 

been humbled by thee, and no mistake. Be gracious unto 
us, thOu Master of Magic Potent and give peace and rest 
unto the trembling worlds.'* 

But, Visvamitra, sore stricken, sighed in impotent rage 
and baffled might, as if his heart would break. " Fie upon 
the puny warrior migjit ! The Brahman energy, ah !, that 
,is something to pray for and toil after. What ! all my hard- 
won arms of terrible power baffled by that single staff in 
the hand of a Brahmana ! Now that I have convincing 
proof enough, I shall uproot love and anger from my heart 
and with a calm self and serene, set myself upon the path that 
leads to the coveted eminence of a Brahmana." 


Visvamitra, out of the great conceit that filled his heart, 
sought enmity with the all-powerful Vasishtha and fastened 
a quarrel upon him ; and he was amply rewarded for his 
pains. The memory of his defeat was burnt into his 
heart in letters of (ire and hot sighs broke from it, as fierce 
flames from the bowels of the earth. 

He betook himself to the south and his wife along 
with him and there, in the dark solitudes of the forest, 
did he carry on a course of stern Tapas, wild roots and 
fruits his only tood and his rebellious senses well under 
restraint. And to him were born sons of righteous lives and 
straight speech, Havishyanda, Madhushyanda. Dndhanetra 
and others. 

A thousand years passed over his head and at the end 
of it, Brahma, the Grandsire of the Worlds, stood before 
him and in accents sweet and mild, addressed the royal 
ascetic, " Son of Gadhi ! thy Tapas has won for thee the 


bright regions of the Rajarshis : fur, now thou holdefct the 
proud rank of a Rajarshi." He spoke and went back to 
his glorious seat on high and the attendant Gods along 
with him. 

But, Visvamitra hung his head in sore grief and 
shame : " A noble return' 1 said he to himself in tones of bitter 
despondence, " for the dread austerities and stern discipline 
I passed through. A Rajarshi am I, is it > So said the 
Great One and the Gods and the sages confirmed it. I 
have toiled hard and to no purpose." So, with an un- 
daunted heart and never-flagging energy, did he resume his 

It was about this time there ruled at Ayodhya, a king, 
by name Trisanku , of the royal line of Ikshwaku. A man 
of truthful speech was he and self-controlled to a degree : 
and to him there came a desire to sacrifice to the bright 
Gods and win a seat in the mansions of the Blessed : and 
that in the very body he had when on earth. He called 
unto him Vasishtha, the high-priest of the Ikshwakus and 
humbly submitted his prayer to him. 

" Impossible;" cried the Holy One, " not that I am 
unable to conduct such a rite ; nor that such a thing is 
impossible ; for, do not the Holy Scriptures say, ' He attains 
the bright Worlds of the Gods, and, that in his body of 
flesh '; but I have looked into the records of your past lives 
and see I there nothing to ensure the probability of success. 
Desist from the rash resolve, I lay my orders upon you/' 

Foiled in the dearest wish of his heart, Trisanku took 
his way to the south, even where the numerous sons of 
Vasishtha were engaged in holy Tapas. A glorious sight 
they presented to the king in their radiant forms of mighty 
energy latent. The royal petitioner approached them in 
humble guise, the far-famed sages and laid his proud head 


at their holy feet : he stood up before them and bending low 
over his joined palms, addressed them in pitiful accents, 
albeit a sense of insulted majesty unconsciously stooped his 
haughty head. " I take my refuge in you, noble ones ; 
you are the last and the sole refuge of the helpless. The 
high-souled Vasishtha has refused me, though I prayed ever 
so humbly. All glory be unto you. Great is my longing 
that you perform for me a sacrifice which shall unabJe me 
to ascend to the bright Swarga in this present body of mine. 
Behold I lay my head at your feet in humble entreaty and 
pray you all, the sons of my Guru, to enable me to realise 
the desire of my heart. And not less you, holy Brahmanas ! 
whose whole life is one long prayer and meditation. Bless 
me out of your noble hearts and assist at this sacrifice on 
which rest my hopes here and hereafter. Sternly refused by 
Vasishtha, I see no haven of safety but in the sons of my 
reverend Master. For, know 1 not that to the Ikshwakus 
their high-priest is their God, their surest stay and support ? 
It has ever been a sacred truth that the high-priest, tl 
Fountain of Power and Wisdom is the shield and the spe; 
of the Kings. And after them, stand you, holy Brahmana 
as my guardian Angels." 

The Boyal C hand a la, 

To which lowly request of the royal Trisanku the sons 
of Vasishtha gave quick reply, winged with wrath. " Evil- 
minded man ! rejected hast thou been by our Lord Vasishtha, 
who speaks true ; and darest thou seek any other, passing by 
so lightly the dread son of Brahma ? The royal Ikshwakus, 
every ont of them, know no other master than their High- 
priest. And his word once gone forth, the Truth-speaker, 
they dare not say it nay. The sacrifice he has pronounced 

impossible in your case, dare we dream of it ? A boy thoi* 
art, nay, but a child, though many winters have passed over 
thy head and blind fortune has made thee king. Seek tliou 
thy home, even as thou came. The Lord Vasishtha alone 
has the right and the might to conduct any sacrifice, be it to 
gain the bright spheres above or the dull globes below. 
And who are we to dare insult his majesty by offering to set 
about a thing he has once declared impossible?" 1 

But, the king, nothing daunted by the words of winged 
flame from the lips of his master's sons, spoke in humbler 
accents still, " Denied have I been by my master Vasishtha 
and no better treatment have I received at the hands of his 
sons ; what how remains for me but to seek another piotec- 
tor, since you would drive me to it ? All good be yours, 
wealthy beyond count in your holy meditations." 

The sons of Vasishtha could not believe their senses. 

Vhat ! a member of the house of Ikshwaku cutting himself 

ay the spiritual ties that bound him, btrong as the^ bands 

Fate, to his High-priest, the Lord Vasishtha, the mmd- 

rn son of Brahma, eternally wedded unto the royal house, 

her and son! and seeking the feet of aiutner, even in 

)ught ! What madness thus to lay the axe at the root ol his 

'ouse ! How utterly black and horrible should be the 

aeart of such a monster ! In a fit of unconl Tollable tury, 

they cursed him in words of withering flame. u Wretch ! Quit 

thou that form of Kshatnya and take thou the degraded 

shape of a Chandala". They spoke and entered their holy 

abodes, as if to avoid the foul sight o' the traitor. 

The rosy fingers of Morn drew aside with a deft 
touch the dark curtains around the bed of the sleeping world 
as Trisanku, the king of radiant presence, found himself 
transformed into a vile Chandala. Not a semblance of one, 
in heart or in nature, but the very thing itself. For, each 


grade of society is based on the rigid and unswerving dis- 
charge of the duties eternally attached thereunto ; and once 
that a member fails in it, nay, in the slightest, he becomes 
what he has made himself, consciously and voluntarily. His 
bright robes flashing with gold and gems, were changed to 
the dirty black rags of the outcast. The stately form of 
golden hue, now took on a hideous tint, dark as guilt and 
more repulsive. His once shining locks, now a tangled mass 
of wool, short and coarse. Of for-bidding aspect, his shoulders 
were graced with garlands of flowers that erstwhile lay on 
the corpses m the crematorium. The ashes of the dead 
covered his hmbs and took the place of the delicate-scented 
sandal paste and the rare perfumes. An unsightly strip of 
leather, lay on the broad and massive chest, where once gleam- 
ed the Sacred Thread of gold, the badge of the Twice-born. 
And curious ornaments of black iron but added to the horror 
of the degradation. His ministers and councellors fled away 
in affright from him, the outcast Chandala ; and the loyr 
citizens followed at their heels. But, he, the proud monarc 
a day before, wended his weary way all alone. The cru 
talons of Shame and Anger dug at the root of his heari 
but Titan-like, undaunted yet he stood and unconquerabk 
Visvamitra was the man he approached ; Visvamitra, th\ 
deadliest foe of Vasishtha, who had said him nay, whose\ 
sons had launched their terrible curse upon him ; even 
Visvamitra of fiery will and terrible energy. 

Visvamitra cast his eyes on the proud scion of the 
royal race of Ikshwaku, whose hopes here and hereafter 
were shattered to nothing by his mortal enemy Vasishtha 
and his sons. Grievour pily filled his heart to see the Ruler 
of men approaching him in the despised guise of a Chandala; 
and out of that great pity did the righteous sage of dazzling 
lustre address the Lord of Ayodhya, now no gentle sight. 
" Hail to thee ! and all good. What brings thee here ? The 


son of a king thou, of invincible might, hdst thou fallen on 
evil days ? Ruler of the stately Ayodhya ! How hast thou 
come to be cursed to become a Chandala/ 1 

To which kind enquiry of his brother monarch, did 
Tnsanku, Chandala against his will, render meek reply. 
i( Spurned have I been " cried he over his folded palms, "by 
my Guru Vasishtha and his sons. What I sought them for 
I have not got ; but, what I never bargained for, what I 
could never deserve, nay, what I would flee away from, that, 
have I received at their hands and in no small measure. 
Strong is the desire of my heart to ascend to the homes of 
the Shining Ones, in this mortal frame of mine. Sacrifices 
innumberable have I performed, but I am no whit nearer the 
realization of my hopes. Nor have I given utterance to an 
untruth, nor will hereafter. So, I cannot, for a moment, 
believe that any breach of truth on my part has nullified 
$he effects of my sacrifices. I am now in the coils of 
Vdversity ; but I swear to you on the honour of a 
Ishatnya that I speak the bare truth. Never have I 
tailed in the regular and conscientious discharge of my 
laily duties sacrifices to the Gods, to the Fathers, and 
o the various orders of Beings ; just and wise government 
of my people ; humble service to my spiritual guides and 
other high-souled Ones, meet and acceptable. Ever do I 
seek to walk in the straight and narrow path of Right and 
Duty : but my teachers look not with favour upon me 
when I prayed them to conduct for me a rite to gam me 
a seat among the Gods. Verily do I think that Fate 
has the last word in our affairs and free will and individual 
effort are but as light grains of dust before it. Fate rules 
supreme over everything. Fate is the sole and last Arbitrer 
ot joy and sorrow, good and bad. It behoves you to 
stretch out to me the hand of help, a wretch whom the Wheel 
of Fortune has flung lower than the lowest and whose turn 


he awaits with an eager heart. May your glory never grow 
less. Cruel Fate inexorble has pierced my shield, shattered 
my spear and beat me down to my very knees. I have 
reached the end of my resources ; I throw myself on 
your limitless compassion and pray to sit under the shadow 
of your might. No other Protector shall I seek, for Protector 
have I none. To your holy feet do I cling and will not 
quit them even though the mighty Vasishtha should pray 
it of me to go back unto him. Utmost confidence have I, 
nay, it is a certainty with me that you and you alone can, 
if you will, lightly set aside strong Fate and make it 

Visvamitra Champions Trisanku. 

Whereupon, unto the noble king, condemned by a 
trightful doom to drag out his miserable existence as a vil 
outcast, Visvamitra replied in words of liquid melody that 1 
welled from a heart overflowing with pity. " Welcome, 
proud member of a noble race ! you are not, my son, 
unknown to me as an exceedingly righteous king and pious. 
Fear not, n )ble lord ! for from this moment you sit under the 
shadow of my shield and my sword is at the breast of your 
enemies. I will lose no time in sending for such as can help 
me in this sacrifice of mine, wise sages and saintly ascetics. 
And one they are here, you will, with a heart relieved of 
care, be enabled to begin it. Born Chandala you are not . were 
it so, this curse, pronounced by your Guru, would be hard 
for the Self-born One to set aside. So, shall you in this body 
of thine ascend to the bright heavens, and all through the 
power of my Tapas. I see the gates of heaven open wide 
to welcome their honoured guest: methinks I see you 
take your proud seat among the Gods ; for have you not 

E 82 


asked for and obtained refuge with Visvamitra, son of 
Gadbi, the Champion of the Weak and the Oppressed ?" 

He spake, the proud sage of matchless glory and 
directed his sons righteous and wise, to get everything 
ready towards the sacrifice. Next he sent for his disciples 
and said to them, " Speed ye far and near and invite hither 
the Wise Ones of the Earth, their pupils, their friends, as 
alsp the sacrificial priests and those who have drunk deep of 
the words of Wisd jm. If any but breathe a word of dissent, 
nay, so much as dare slight me, saying, ' Lo ! here is a 
Kshatriya has taken it upon himself to sacrifice for a Chan- 
djala, you will not omit to bring it to my ears." 

They heard and obeyed his behests. On the wings of 
speed they flew and brought him back word of what transpired. 
" Lord of dazzling lustre ! " cried the students of the Sacred 
"Lore, " the wise sages of the earth, everyone of them, have 
' heard thy message and are even now on their way here, all 
J Mahodaya and the sons of Vasishtha. Nay, dread 

v Lord, the latter had the matchless impudence to say in tones 
concentrated wrath, ' Strange days are come over us and 

grange things happen. Wonder of wonders ! A Kshatriya 
has the audacity to assume the sacred functions of a sacri- 
ficial priest and that for a degraded Chandala ! Have the 
noble Brahmanas become so scarce that a warrior should 
pose himself as such? Have the Twice-born disappear- 
ed, from the bosom of the earth, that a Chandala should 
dare to allow a sacrifice to be conducted for his bene- 
fit ? A nice pair this, a fighting priest, and the outcast 
sacrificer ! A strange sight will it be to see the holy 
sages and the radiant Gods sit down in the hall, to 
partake of the offerings ! And the high-souled Brah- 
manas, how do they hope to ascend to the mansions 
of the Shining Ones, defiled beyond hope by having 
partaken of food at the hands of the Chandala ? And the 


sages of the holy vows, how dare they have assisted it thl 
celebration of such a sacrilegeous rite, though they have the 
mighty Visvamitra to back them\ Such were the words oi 
wanton insult uttered by Mahodaya and the numerous sons 
of Vasishtha, their eyes flashing fire." 

Visvamitra heard them and fierce flames shot out of his 
eyes ; while the burning wrath in his heart found vent in 
words of doom. " And so, the impious wretches dared to 
say this about me, pure and spotless, engaged in dread 
austerities. Well, they may decry me, for they know not 
that nothing can stand before the all-consuming energy of 
my Tapas, nay, not even the so-called sacrilege of sacrificing 
for a Chandala. Well, here is the reward for their pains, 
Nothing shall remain of them but a heap of ashes. Fell 
Time shall cast his noose over their necks and hale them 
even to the gates of the Lord of Death ; and that this very 
moment. Nay, more is yet to come ; for, my anger shall 
pursue them even beyond the portals of Life and Death!, 
For lives seven hundred, shall they drag on a miserabl^ 
existence, foul eaters of the decaying corpse and dogs' meat!, 
Pitiless of heart, they shall go under the name of Mushtikas 
and shall range the worlds, uncouth of form, speech and 
habits. As for Mahodaya, who, in his mad folly reviled me", 
the stainless, he shall, of a truth, be a degraded Nishada. 
Ever intent upon murder and violence, with a heart know- 
ing no shadow of pity, he shall, for ages untold, suffer a 
lite of misery and my anger shall chain him thereto.'' 

So spake Visvamitra, the sage of stern vows, while cairn- 
souled ascetics heard him with well-concealed expressions 
of sorrow and disapproval. 


The Triumph of Visvamitra. 

Having thus annihilated, by the might of his Tapas, 
Mahodaya and the sons of Vasishtha, Visvamitra turned to 
the assembled sages and said " Behold this scion of the 
royal race of Ikshwaku, known to men as Tnsanku. Firm 
are his feet on the path of Righteousness and he is a great 
Giver of gifts ; above all, he has sought refuge with me. 
For, great is his desire to ascend to the worlds of the Gods 
in his body of flesh. You and I will so conduct a sacri- 
fice for him that he may go away from amongst us, his 
heart yearnings gratified to the full. 1 ' 

The sages heard him out and took council among them- 
selves. " This our host, the sage Visvamitra, the proud 
Cendant of the Kusikas, is a very Fountain of Wrath. 
/e must do even as he says . else he will verily consume us 
faith his curses. Far be it from us, then, to do anything 
^hat might draw his lightning upon us. Now, let us lose no 
/time in commencing the sacrifice, which shall, thanks to the 
/immeasurable might of Visvamitra, raise Trisanku aloft to 
the seat of the Gods, even in his earthly body. Betake 
we each to our respective duties." 

And so the long-delayed sacrifice commenced, under no 
very favourable auspices, Visvamitra assuming himself the 
responsible post of the Adhwaryu, while his brother sages 
went about their duties without a fault, without a hitch, as 
ordained by the Book of Rules. 

Then, in due course, did Visvamitra of dread puissance, 
call upon the Shining Ones to come down to the sacrifice and 
receive their shares of the offerings Once, twice, thrice. 
But, the Lords of Light came not, though invoked time and 
oft. " What sacrifice is this, in which a Kshutriya, all 


unqualified, sacrifices for a wretch, cursed by the Lord 
Vasishtha to be a foul Chandala : and shall we, even respond 
to the unholy call and defile ourselves for all time, by par- 
taking of the offerings therein ? v 

A storm of wrath shook the proud frame of Visvarm- 
tra ; and raising aloft the sacrificial ladle, did he cry in 
a terrible voice, "Trisanku ! my son, let be this rite on which 
you rest your hopes. Behold what my hard-earned Tapas^ 
can do. I shall, out of my innate energy, raise you to t^Sie 
skies, even where the haughty Gods have their abode, a^id 
that in this very body you now wear. No easy task, for 
others, see you. There yet remains to me unexpended scj>me 
of the might which I have acquired by long austerities, 
stern and holy ; and by the force of that, ascend, Trisanku, 
to the bright homes of the Angels of Light in this very 
body of yours." 

No sooner were the words out of his nuuth, than the 
sages assembled beheld a wonderful sight, nay a miracle, 
and Trisanku rose aloft from this dull Earth right up to- 
words the radiant worlds of the Celestials, in the dark and 
degraded form of the Chandala. 

But, Indra, the Lord of the Immortals, saw him, the 
unworthy one, advancing to take his place among them ; and 
voicing the unspoken resolve of the Gods, " Back, back, 
Trisanku/' cried he " sooner than you came. You have no 
place here among us. Fool that you are ! see you not the 
black curse of your Guru dragging you down ? Fall tliou 
headlong upon the patient bosom of Mother Earth, who 
groans beneath the weight of your sin/' And Trisanku, 
hurled head downwards from the High Heavens, cried out 
in heart-rending tones of agonised entreaty, " Save me. Oh 
save me, my Lord Visvamitra, my only saviour/* 

The cry pierced him to the heart and roused him to a 
pitch of ungovernable fury, < Stay where thou art ; stay, 

1174 - BAI^KANDA 

I cgmmand thee " cried he, , And Trisanku stood in mid-air 
as if petrified. * . .,.,., 

Then, seated as he was in the midst of his fellow-sage^ 
did he, like another Brahma, proceed to evolve a new cr6a^ 
tion. " Lo ! my Trisanku shall be the Pole-star of my nfew 
system. Another constellation of the Seven Rishis (Ufcsa 
Major), shall revolve around him : and beyond these, another 
v oircle of lunar asterisms." He spoke ; and in the south t 
there rose a grand system of worlds, the counterpart of that 
in \thenorth. But his rage would not stop there and he 
continued. "My new world, it shall have another Indra over 
it:! but, stay, methinks it were better without one (the 
veity name ib hateful to me). Why, Trisanku, my son, shall 
be its Lord, and shall outshine that wretch of an Indra 
who dared to stand against my will." And forthwith, he 
set at^out to fashion another creation of the various Celestial 

' Then, mighty fear seized the hearts of the Gods, the 
Asuras, and the sages at this undreamt of and awful display 
of power, almost divine and with humble entreaties and low, 
they approached the irate sage, attheir wits' end almost, how to 
accomplish the hopeless task of charming his wounded pride 
with words. "Mighty One ! This king, your protege, is not 
entitled to a place among us. Our bright worlds are for such of 
the Twice-born as are unsullied and pure : whereas, Tnsanku, 
holy as he is, lives under the mex jrable curse of his Guru> the 
all-powerful Vasishtha. And wh3 knows it better than you ?" 

Now, Vis^amitra's heart was glad and his anger pacified 
some-what . for, were not the proud Gods at his feet, who, a 
little while ago, had the temerity to brave his angei and would 
not c jme when called ? But, his iron will would not yield, nay r 
not so much as a hair-breadth. " Peace be unto you ! v cried 
he, (and this was the only sign he gave of any reconciliation 
towards his haughty foes,) "my word has passed to Trisanku 


the king here, that he shall, in this bodyo/Ws ascend to 
your worlds ; and it shall never prove otherwise. Since 
y0u will not receive him of your own accord, I have no 
other god than make my ward good anyhow, by methods 
not very pleasant to you. Where Trisanku now is, there 
shall be a world of the Gods : and the stars and cons- 
tellations-created by me, as also the orders of Heavenly 
Powers, shall continue to exist, to the day of the Great 
Dissolution. May I hope that you will accord, out of your 
pleasure, your consent to this arrangement, to which per- 
force I am driven by dire necessity ?" 

What could they do, the Gods, foiled by the terrible might 
of Visvamitra ? They made the best of a bad bargain and gave 
in with a good grace. "It shall be even as you desire. Your 
stars, your constellations and the various orders of Celestial 
Beings, shall endure for ever, even as the existing solar system, 
but outside the Vaisvanara path (the Zodiac). These shall ever 
revolve round the fortunate Trisanku, radiant as theJGods 
and as happy as they but he shall hang head downvirards, 
as a living reminder of the awful sacrilege of setting aside 
the words of the spiritual teacher. In other respects his 
fame shall illuminate all the worlds, as falls to the lot of no 
mortal. 11 

*' Be it so," Visvamitra gave glad assent, while the 
Gods and the sages assembled, lauded to the skies the 
.righteous sage of superhuman power. 

The sacrifice was completed ; (Visvamitra placed an- 
other person in Tnsanku's stead ; and this time, the Gods 
failed not to come down and partake of the offerings) ; 
the Shining Ones and the sages of high spiritual fervour 
departed to their respective abodes, well-pleased. 



Visvamitra saw them depart, the holy sages and ad- 
dressed himself to the dwellers of that forest. "The southern 
quarter where now we are is not favourable to our purpose * 
let us proceed to the west and continue our Tapas there ; 
for, a mighty check has been placed upon us here. The 
forests of Pushkara will, I am sure, prove more congenial 
to our quest ; for, as a holy spot it has no equal/' So 
he repaired to the groves of Pushkara and resumed his 
severe austerities, supporting himself solely upon fruits 
and roots. 

It was about this time that Ambansha, the ruler 
of Ayodhya, set about to perform a grand sacrificial 
rite, during which Indra made away with the consecrated 
horse. The high priest turned to the king and said. "Lost is 
the consecrated animal and all through your carelessness. 
Heedless acts such as these never fail to bring rum on the 
head of the ruler whu fails to protect his charge. But, the 
mistake can be repaired if you can bring back the animal 
or a man to take its place. Delay not, but see that you do 

it before the ^sacrifice is over." 

With a heavy heart did Ambansha seek far and \\ide 

and offered thousands of kine to any one who would give 
him a man to sacrifice. Towns and cities, hamlets and 
groves, forests and peaceful hermitages and distant lands, 
he omitted none. But vain was his quest, until at last he 
came to; Bhrigutunda, where lived, in his calm retreat, 
Richika, with his wife and sons. Him the royal sage 
approached, of boundless gbry and reverence paid, prp- 
ferred his request to the pleased Mahanshi, radiant in 
the might of his Tapas. " Hail to thee, Holy One ! is it well 
with thee and thy peaceful round of religious duties ? Come 


hither have I, to beg of you one of your sons for a sacri- 
ficial offering ; thousands of kine shall be thine if thou but 
fulfil my purpose and bring peace to my tortured heart. Far 
have I roamed and humbly sought for anyone who would 
consent to furnish me with a sacrificial victim, and my last 
hope rests in thee. Take whatever price thou wilt, but give 
me one of thy sons." And to him replied the sage of radiant 
presence, " Never shall I part with my first-born, no, not for 
any consideration.''' 

Then spoke to the king the mother of the boys. " My 
lord of the line of Bhrigu has passed his word that the 
eldest son of his loins shall never be sold to another ; but, 
ruler of countless millions ! dearer unto me is my youngest, 
Sunaka so named. Him shall I never consent to give away, 
for, know you not that a father's hopes aie ever centered in 
his eldest boy, while the youngest born twines himself 
round the heart of her that gave him birth ? Now, do you 
blame me for standing between death and him whom I 
have best ? 

Sunassepha, the mid-most of the three, listened to the 
words of his parents and with a firm heart said to the king, 
" He that came unto the world before me is dear unto * my 
saintly father ; he who saw the light after me is no less so 
unto my mother. Sold they shall not be, my parents would 
have it so. Then, it goes without saying that, he who 
remains is welcome to be taken by thee. Lead me, O, king ! 
where thou wilt. 1 ' 

Sunassepha, of matchless wisdom having thus sold 
himself unto, the king, Ambarisha, his heart dancing with 
joy, loaded the sage with rich gifts and costly, silver and 
gold, gems and precious stones of countless value and 
hundreds of thousands of cattle. He took respectfully leave 
of, the saintly pair and placing the hard-won Sunassepha 

E 28 


on his royal car, wended his way back to where stands the 
lordly Ayodhya. 



It was the height of noon when the monarch unyoked 
his weary steeds to take a short rest on the banks of lake 

But, Sunassepha, wandering aimlessly over the place 
with a heavy heart, chanced to come upon Visvamitra, his 
mother's brother, engaged with many a hermit in stern 
austerities. Faint with toil and thirst, he ran up with a woeful 
countenance to where sat Visvamitra and falling upon his 
breast, cried to him in pitious accents. 

" Father have I none, nor fondling mother nor kith 
nor kin. Thou art my refuge and stay and thee do I call 
upon in the name of sweet compassion to save me from this 
dreadful fate. Thou art ever the champion of the oppressed : 
thou art ever a shield between the wretched and their misery, 
Find thou a way by which the king shall achieve his object 
and myself spend Icng years of holy austerities on this 
earth and win the abode of the Gods at the end. Protect me, 
for protector have I none, out of thy tender heart and sweet 
pity ; be thou a father unto me and chase away this horrible 
danger that hangs over my head''\ 

Visvamitra, of boundless might, calmed the wild grief 
of the boy and infused hope into his despairing heart. Tur- 
ning to his sons, " Now is the time come" said he " for you 
to show that a father brings forth from his loins sons like 
unto himself, to secure him good on earth and lead him to the 
bright regions on high. This boy whom you see here, the 


son of a hermit, clasps my feet in humble appeal for protec 
tion. Save Ins life and bring joy and peace unto his broken 
"heart. Everyone of you has kept the observances, not one 
of you that has ever swerved from the path of Right and 
Duty. Take you his place at the sacrifice of Ambarisha and 
may the bright God of Fire find in you a sweet offering. 
Sunassepha shall be saved from death ; the sacrifice shall 
come to a happy end : the gods shall depart well pleased ; 
and my word to the orphan-boy shall have been well kept." 

Loud laughed they ih scorn, his sons, Madhusyanda 
and the rest ; and spoke back unto their father out of a proud 
heart and haughty spirit. " A fine father it is, that puts a 
stranger's brat before his own flesh and blood. The very 
idea is repulsive to us, even as dug's meat for dinner.' 1 

Fire flashed from the eyes of the angry father and in a 
terrible voice he cried out. "Dare ye speak to me such words 
as these, heartless, bibod-curdlingr shameless. Dare ye set my 
commands at defiance and outrage Duty and Justice. Wan- 
derers over the earth shall ye be, everyone, for a thousand 
years, your only food the dog's meat you so abhorred, even 
as the sons of my hated rival Vasishtha." So cursed he in 
mighty wrath his sons rebellious ; and turning himself to the 
despairing Sunassepha, he performed certain protective rites 
to ensure his safety at the dreadful moment. "Fair son, when 
to the sacrificial stake of Vishnu bound, a helpless victim 
you stand, fail not to call upon the bright God of Fire in 
that hour of heed. Two spells I give you, of potent might, 
with which you shall win the grace of Indra and Vishnu. 
When the bands of holy grass are tight around you, the 
red sandal paste on your limbs and the blood red garland 
round your doomed neck, chant you these hymns of un- 
speakable power in the sacrificial hall of the royal Ambarisha 
and you will come by no harm." 

180 BAtAKANDA * 

Sunassepha humbly received the potent charms 
with a joyful heart hastened to his royal master and said; 
" Mighty king, -we have tarried too long on the way. Pro- 
ceed we to the place of sacrifice and delay not to take upon 
yourself the initiatory vow/' 

Sjon they were at Ayodhya ; and Ambarisha, now all 
joy, caused Sunassepha, the voluntary victim, to be bound 
to the sacrificial stake ; the withes of the sacred Kusa en- 
circled his graceful limbs ; and his garments of fiery red 
but enhanced the horror of the scene. The holy priests 
directed him therein and saw that nothing went amiss. 
The supreme m >ment came that was to decide his fate ; when, 
lo ! there rung forth, from the helpless victim bound, words 
of wondrous might, praising high the great Indra and his 
greater brother Vishnu ; and it was even as his wise master 
had taught him. The thousand-eyed Lord was surprised 
and pleased; for, the mysterious words of praise were 
known to no sons of earth. Long years of happy life 
were the meed of him that won the heart of the Lord of 
the Angels. Ambarisha too came in for his share of the hard- 
won grace of the mighty One, in that the high merit of the 
holy rite was his, a thousandfold increased thereby. 

All the while, Visvamitra, the Heaven-sent protector of 
the orphan-boy, went on with his stern Tapas at the holy 
Pushkara and mortal years twice five hundred did he count. 

Visvamitra and the Siren. 

It was over, the long and severe Tapas, and unto Visva- 
mitra, fresh from his bath, came the Immortals, wfery oae 
of them, desirous that he should reap the fruits of his long 
and arduous labours. Then spake the Four faced One, his 


divine glory brightening the bright space around; " Hail to 
thee I" so rang the accents sweet, " A Rishi art thou and right 
welt dost thou deserve the rank thy holy Tapa& has gained 
for thee " ; and with that he went back to his bright world, 
But Visvamitra's heart was heavy yet and he resumed his 
untiring labours. 

The long years passed over his patient head and one 
hne day an Apsaras, Menaka by name, came to the rolling 
waters of Pushkara to lave her shapely limbs in Us cool 
depths. Her he saw, the ascetic of stern vows, blazing in 
his energy ; she was a dream of beauty, even as the 
lambent lightning playing through dark clouds surcharged 
with rain. The bright god of Love, that mischievous bjy, 
was at hand and from his magic bow shot forth his straight- 
est shaft and mightiest, right at the heart of the sage of iron 
will ; and, as if in response, there burst forth, all unknown to 
himself, the heart-cry of burning passion, fierce, consuming 
and not to be denied. 

" Welcome, thrice welcome, thou fairest maid in heaven 
or earth ! Dwell thou with me and be my love. Faint am I 
with passion and of my wits reft ; let me but look into the 
dark depths of thine eyes and lose myself in a dream of 

"As my lord willeth" replied the bashful one; and 
dwelt with him in that peaceful retreat, a fatal check to his 
mighty Tapas. 

Bright summers five and five flew over the heads of the 
happy pair, in a sweet dream of blissful love ; and Visva- 
mitra wuke up from it one woeful day, pitiful shame in his 
looks and dull grief gnawing at his heart. All ait once a 
light broke upon his brain and he cried out in anguish, 
*' Fool that I was, not to see that this was a snare set to 
entrap my unwary feet, by those relentless foes of mine, the 


Devas. What ! ! twice five years by mortal count and to 
my blinded eyes it seemed but a day and a night ! I have 
to thank myself and my blind passion for this cursed obs- 
tacle that has nipped my hopes in the bud." 

Burning sighs broke from his noble heart and cruel 
repentance dug its brazen claws therein. Looking up, he 
saw her before him, the unwilling partner of his ruin, the 
golden-hued Menaka, trembling in affright, her flower-soft 
hands raised to him in mute appeal for pardon. The sight 
filled his heart with sweet pity with gentle words and 
sad, he sent away the witching siren, all too glad to escape 
so lightly. 

Then he set his face to the lurth and took his weary 
^ray to the great mountains, even where the bright Kausiki 
gladdens the earth ; and having made a mighty resolve 
to win or die in the attempt, he engaged himself in a long 
Bourse of stern observances. 

A thousand years went by and the bright gods quaked 
in awe to see him there, grim and stern, his heart still set 
on his mighty quest. Swift coursed they and the holy sages 
along with them, to the Heavens of Brahma. " Let this 
terrible man be pacified"' they implored "with the gift of the 
high rank of a Maharshi." 

11 Be it so ", rejoined the great Father and be took 
himself to where sat that Tapas incarnate. " Fair son, 11 so 
came forth the accents sweet, " All hail ! a Maharshi thou ! 
Well pleased am I with thy intense Tapas and willingly do 
I confer on thee the highest rank am )ng the sages of the earth/* 

But, Visvamitra, his calm heart in no way ruffled with 
grief or joy, returned answer meet to the Omnipotent One. 
41 Then am I " cried he, with hands of joined prayer the 
while, " beyond all doubt, the proud controller of the 
rebellious senses, in as much my lord has deigned to speak 


of me as having won, by holy deeds all mine own, the high 
pre-eminence of a Maharshi." 

" Not yet " broke in Brahma " not yet thine, the 
undisputed sway over the fleeting senses. Long lies the 
road before thee and steep, ere thou attain that dizzy 
eminence. Toil on, brave one . And forthwith he went 
back to his seat of bliss. 

Visvamitra saw them depart, the gods hard to please, 
and began anew, with unflagging zeal, his Tapas sterner 
far and fiercer. With arms raised above his head on high, 
stood he there without a prop, the viewless air his only 
food. The burning heat of summer played on his 
devoted head, while fierce fire?, four in number, blazed 
around his wasted frame. The dark clouds, heavy-charged, 
pjured on his de c enceless head their ceaseless stream of 
arrows straight. The chill nunths, day and night, found 
him there, deep immersed in freezing waters ; and so during 
those long years of weary toil. 

Mighty fear took relentless hold of Indra and his celes- 
tial hjst, as they viewed with awe and wonder the royal 
sage pursuing Ins end with grim tenacity and a dauntless 
heart- Then summoned Indra unto his presence, Rambha, 
the fairest of the daughters of Heaven and the wiliest ; and in 
council full, unfolded unto her a plan, their ends to achieve 
and foil the determined efforts of the dread Aspirer. 

Visvamitra and Bambha. 

" Rambha ! you are to render the celestials a great 
service ; beguile Visvamitra and inspire desire and delustoa 
of heart in him/' 

So said hictra of mighty intellect ; and 
ing her palms, replied to him shyly, V Lord of the Sfcining 
Ones ! this gt sage Visvamitra is a terrible <ap~* 
preach ; of a certainty he will let loose his wrath upon me, 
. frightful to bear. That is why I am afraid to go ; and you 
will take pity on my p^or self and excuse me from the 

Indra calmed the trembling one, who raised her hands 
and eyes to him in sweet appeal. " Fear not, Rambha ; per- 
form my behests and you shall come to no harm. I 

, will stay with you ; and the koil with heart-ravishing notes, 
the spring in the pride of his bloom and luxuriance and not 

' the least, the God of Love himself shall be your assistants 
in your difficult task. Assume a dazzling form in 
which all, your charms shall be displayed and lure away his 

' heart from his austerities." 

And following his directions, Rambha, the loveliest of 
the lovely Apsarasas, excelled herself, if possible and with 
radiant smiles and alluring glances, set about to shake the 
equanimity of the fiery ascetic. 

The sweet strains of the Kqjl fell on his ears and raising 
his 1 - eyes, he saw, with a pleased lieart, the witching Siren, 
Thd delicious music of her voice, the no less sweet notes of 
" the r Roil, and her all-compelling beauty roused strange feel- 
ings in his heart, inexpressible joy, but with a dash of sus- 
picion in it. He was not long in finding out that it was a 
ruse of Indra to shake his high resolve (Indra, his relentless 
enemy, was at his old dirty tricks again). His anger blazed 
forth and a terrible curse shot out from his lips. 

" Thou wicked wench ! seekest thou to draw me away 

from mypious- meditations, who have set his heart on sub- 

f dmng desire and hate ? Twice five thousand winters 'shall 

thou drag a miserable existence, a block of stone, a living 


corpse; AnJ so shalt thou remain, a fitting victim of my 
just wrath, until a Brahmina of high spiritual might and 
-radiant presence shall raise thee from the depths of misery.' 1 

So spake the great sage and paused ; for his heart was 
sad and sore and he had not yet learned to hold in check his 
rising anger. But the dire curse came upon Rambha then 
and there and turned her divine beauty into shapeless stone. 
Her affrighted helpers, Love and Spring, vanished into thin 
air at the first blast of the tempestuous wrath. 

His terrible outburst of temper robbed him of his 
hard-earned spiritual power and he ate his heart away at 
having failed to curb his passions. He raised his hands 
aloft and uttered a mighty vow. " Never again shall I give 
way unto this accursed wrath ; never again shall word of 
mine pass ihese lips ; nay, 1 will hold in my breath, even if 
it be for hundreds and thousands of years. I will trample 
down my rebellious senses and dry up this withered body 
until I attain through the force of my austerities, the coveted 
rank of a Brahmana. I will remain witnout any sustenance 
and with suppressed breath for endless years and my life- 
currents shall not waste away when I am absorbed in 
Tapas." With an undaunted spirit, did he set himself 
to carry out this terrible vow, unheard of betore among 
men, and entered upon his dreadful task. 

Visvamitra, the Brahm^rshi. 

Thereafter the great sage left the sltj 
laya for its western parts and re 
Tapas. Of a truth, it was unparallell 
men and seemed almost an impossible 
absolute siknce for a thousand years 


period drew to a close, Visvamitra had become as impervious 
to external sensations as any block of wood or stone. 
Countless were the obstacles thrown in his path by the 
ever watchful gods, but Anger failed to find a way into 
his heart. Terrible was the vow he made and right man- 
fully did he keep it. 

The thousand years are past and the man of iron 
will sits down to break his long fast ; when, Indra comes 
unto him as a Brahmana and asks to be fed. At once 
the sage of mighty vows offers him the ready food with 
all reverence . and true to his vow of silence, he speaks 
not a word to the Brahmana, who ate what Visvamitra 
was about to sit down to after long years of fasting. 

Another thousand years did he carry on his Tapas, more 
terrible, if possible, in that he breathed not. His life breaths 
restrained within his frame, thick clouds of smoke began to 
issue from the crown of his head and lighted up the three 
worlds, stupefying the beings therein. Distracted through the 
overpowering energy of the sage, deprived of their natural 
brilliance by his awful Tapas and rendered dull and heavy, 
Gods and Asuras, Gandharvas Pannagas and Raksha- 
sas sought the presence of the Lotus-born One and litted 
unto him hands of despair and woe-beg one countenances. 

" We are at our wit's end, having exhausted all our 
aits to beguile the terrible Visvamitra or to rouse him to 
anger ; but, alas ? our anxious labors do but render the pro- 
gress of his Tapas the more rapid. Search as we would, 
we could not find the least flaw in him , nay, nut the slight- 
est, not the subtlest. Deny him the desire of his heart and 
be will, through the worlds, send due rum and destroy every 
t-bject ot ci cation therein Tne quarters, behold ! arc dull 
and daik the ocean waves toss their rebellious crests on high ; 
the mighty hills are rent in twain ; the earth tiembles m af- 
frigfit and the wind blows in sullen gusts. Lord on high ! 


our eyes see not beyond the present ; men turn scoffers 
of the Almighty and of His Law of Right. The worlds 
stand in dull despair, relieved by fits of anxious care. The 
bright sun is but a dark cloud before the fiery radiance of 
the sage. Hasten thou to soften the heart of Visvamitra, 
ere he sets his mind upon reducing the whole creation to 
nothing through the fire of his Tapa?. Grant him anything he 
asks, be it the empire of the Gods on high." 

Brahma placed himself at the head of the low-spirited 
Gods and proceeding to where the great-souled Visvamitra 
was engaged in his stern Tapas, addressed him in ac- 
cents sweet and soothing. " Hail ! Brahmarshi ! is it all 
well with thee > Thy austere Tapas has won our grace 
and has placed thee in the foretront of the twice-born ones. 
Take thou from me the happy boon of long life, which 
the assembled Gods are only too glad to confirm. All good 
be thine, thou holy One ! Free thou art, to turn thy steps 
wherever it may list thee." 

The words of the Self-born One and the attendant gods 
fell sweet on the hungry ears of the sage of terrible vows ; 
and with a glad heart and joined palms, did he hasten to 
reply, "If granted I am the proud status of a Brahmana 
and length of years beyond mortals, let Omkara, Vashat- 
kara and the Vedas be fruitful in me even as they are 
among the regenerate ones. Let Vasishtha, the mind-born 
son of Brahma, recognise me as such, for he stands peer- 
less among those who are proficient in the Vedas that regu- 
late the lives of the Brahmanas and Kshatrias. Let the 
bright Immortals here give their assent thereunto. Accomp- 
lish this, the dearest wish of my heart and go where you 
like. 11 

Thereat, the Shining Ones approached Vasishtha and 
besought the Brahmarshi to make friends with his 


" Be it even so" replied he, and acknowledged Visva- 
mitra as his equal. "A Brahmarshi art thou and no doubt 
of it. Everjjthiag shalt thou achieve as promised by the 
divine Ones." And the delighted Gods went back unto 
their abodes. 

Thereupon, Visvamitra, having achieved the goal of 
his long and severe efforts and raised himself to the rank 
of a Brahmana, rendered affectionate reverence unto 
Vasishtha of mighty spells. And ever afterwards, he wan- 
dered over the Earth, engaged in holy Tapas. 

It was thus, Rama dear, that the high-souled One 
won the rank of a Brahmana, impossible to attain. 
And here he stands, the best and ioremost of sages. 
In him you see Tapas incarnate- Ever \\eddecl is he unto 
Right. He is the highest ideal of human valour and pro- 
wess " So spake Satananda, of radiant presence, while 
Janaka and the princely youths drank in the tale with eager 

Then the monarch turned to the mighty descendant of 
Kusika and spoke overjomed palms of reverence. " High 
shines my star and thrice blessed am I, in that thy august 
self has deigned to be present at this my sacrifice along with 
the royal youths of the line of Ikshwaku. Best of saints ! En- 
vied of men ! all pure is my soul and free of stain, for I have 
set my eyes on thee to-day ; nay, I stand enriched by many 
an undreamt grace of heart and mind thereby. Fortunate 
am I and Rama too, of noble heart, in that it was given us 
to listen to the hjly recital ot thy high ascetic deeds. Now 
is it that we have some idea, though a faint one, of thy rare 
excellences and great worth. Thy Tapas is something in- 
conceivable, thy might and thy graces of the head and the 
'^art. Why, an easier task were it to seek to fathom the 
t"iire and greatness of the Self born One or of the Lord 

e Mountain Queen. Never can I hear enough of thy 


marvellous deeds ; but, Ib ! the envLus sun hangs low in the 
West and calls us to the evening prayers. May I pray thee 
to honour me with thy sacred presence here, the earliest 
hour to-m:>rrow ? All glory be thine, tli3u best of asce- 
tics! I hope I have thy leave to withdraw." 

To which the holy One returned meet answer, praising 
high the noble king, and gladly gave him leave to retire. 
Thereupon, Janaka and his km reverently went round the 
Wofld-honoured One, Satananda leading them on. Visva- 
mitra then left for his quarters, while the assembled sages 
rose to do him glad reverence ; and Rama and his brother 
foil 3wed in his wake. 

The Coming of Sita. 

Brightly smiled the mjrn, when, his daily worship 
over, Janaka requested the presence of Visvamitra and his 
princely disciples. Having offered unto them due welcome 
and respect, even as the Holy Books lay it down, he addres- 
sed himself to Visvamitra and said " Your Reverence ! what 
behest of thine shall I hasten to obey ? For, ever thine humble 
servant am I, to dispose of me as thou wilt. 1 " 

And to him the eloquent sage made meek reply. "These 
royal youths, of wide-spread fame, are the bright sons of 
Dasaratha, Lord of Ayodhya ; they desire to have a sight of 
the bow that is in thy keeping. Place it before them <m4 
let them depart hence, the desire of their hearts gratified." 

" Be pleased, wise One !" rejoined Janaka, " to listen to 
me, while 1 narrate to you how that wonderful bow came 
to stay with me. My ancestor, Devarata, sixth in descent 
from Nimi, the founder of our line, was given it to keep in 
safe custody. 


Long ages ago, Daksha, the Patriarch, celebrated a 
grand sacrifice! in the course of which the assembled gods 
reserved not a portion of the offerings for the absent Maha- 
deva. Whereupon, the Wielder of the Trident waxed mighty 
wroth. He strode up to them with blazing eyes and 
cried, " This terrible bow of mine shall I never lay down, 
till every proud head before me lolls in the dust." Tire 
affrighted ones clasped his feet with humble prayers and 
with sweet words and repentant, chased away his awful ire. 
And the Moon-crested One, nullified therewith, handed 
over to them his redoubtable bow ; and they again entrusted 
it to the safe keeping of my ancestor. 

Once upon a time, I was ploughing a piece of ground 
to celebrate a sacrifice thereon, when, lo ! there rose from 
the furrow, this gem of a girl, whom I took unto my heart. 
The curious circumstances under which she came to me 
gave her the name Sita and she grew apace, the Daughter 
of the Earth, life of my life, my other self. 

Her I have made the prize of Valor, to be won of the 
strongest arm, and the boldest heart. The best and proud- 
est of the Earth sought her hand in marriage, the marvel- 
lous child, that came not of human womb ; but one and 
all of them I sent away with the reply (< None but the 
brave deserve the fair. 1 " Then the suitors all came to 
Mithila to try their chance and win the prize : but none of 
them, not one, succeeded in bending the redoubtable bow. 
Why, they failed to raise it from where it lay! Assured beyond 
doubt of their puny might, I dismissed them in nj happy 
frame of mind. And, in the rage that filled their hearts, 
they joined their forces and besieged the fair Mithila, for 
ten long months and two. They knew that my forces were 
few and my coffers low ; and the shame of defeat goaded 
them to work grievous ruin upon my lovely capital. At the 
end of the year my resources were exhausted and blank 


despair stared me in the face. But, I roused myself and 
won over the mighty Gods to grant me powerful armies : 
with "which, I put to rout that evil crew, their ministers and 
their forces and scattered them to the winds. 

And that famous bow, the apple of discord, blazing in 
its energy, am I but too glad to show unto these royal 
youths. If it so come about that Rama should string it, 
then will I, all willing, bestow on that son of Dasaratha, 
the daughter of my heart, Sita, who comes tut of mortal 

The Broken Bow. 

" Well have you spoken " said Visvamitra " and now 
let Rama have a sight Oi the famous bow." 

Janaka turned to his officers and said " Convey here 
the celestial bow and render it due worship, of sweet incense 
and fragrant wreaths." 

" On our heads be it '" replied they and proceeding to 
the Royal palace, bore thence the bow divine. Full five 
hundred men, strong and stalwart, laboured hard to drag 
thither the black case ot solid iron, eight-wheeled, in whose 
depths lay the mighty I) >\v The ministers placed it before 
their king and said lt Here is the famous bow that the 
princes ot the Earth hold in such high honour and that you 
wanted these princes to see." 

Thereupon, Janaka respectfully addressed himself to the 
sage and the princely pair " Here have I placed before 
you the peerless bo\v, held in high worship by the 
mjnarchs of my house. The best and bravest of the Earth 
have failed to essay the impossible task oi stringing it. The 
very Gods, Asuras, Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Kin- 


nara. t Uragas, nay, njne of them, succeeded in using it, or 
stringing it, or raising it or handling it or even moving it 
from where it lay ; why, then, speak of puny mortals ? I 
have obeyed thy behests and have caused it to be brought 
here ; the princes are welcome to examine it." 

Visvamitra heard him out and turned himself to 
Raghava. " Rama, dear, behold the bow.'" 

At his word, Rama advanced to where it lay in its 
iron case, heaved up the lid, cast his eyes over it and said' 
11 Master mine, have I your permission to handle the bow ? 
May be I would try to hit it or to bend it." 

<( Be it so 1 ' exclaimed the king and the sage 

Then Sn Rama grasped the weapon by the middle and 
held it aloft as it it were a feather, while the assembled 
thousand gazed in hushed am ize. An m, he strung it and 
drew it even to his ear, whenlo ! the mighty bj\v snapped 
in twain right at the middle Awiul was the crash, as 
when the holts of heaven are 1 josened on the earth by the 
mighty arm of their Master The earthquaked to her very 
foundations, as when mighty m untams arc rent in twain 
Every one there was struck senseless by the tremendous 
shock, and none save the king the great sage and the 
princes could stand it. 

When the spectators struggled back to their senses' 

Janaka, his heart relieved of a load of anxiety, approached 

Visvamitra and said to him in deep respect, " Witnessed 

have I to-day the might and valour of the worthy son of 

Dasaratha, wonderful, inconceivable, and undreamt of by 

me. And Sita, the child of my heart, will now be the 

happy wife of Rama and shed a brighter glory on the royal 

House of Janaka. Fortunate am I, in that I have kept my 

word that my daughter shall be the bride of the strongest 

arm and the bravest heart . and her dj I give, dearer to 


me than life itself, in marriage to Rama. With thy per- 
mission, let ministers of mine hasten to Ayodhya on fleet 
cars, to entreat the royal Dasaratha to grace my humble 
abode. They shall acquaint him with the happy news of 
the prize that his valiant son has won here, my peerless 
daughter. Let them also tell him that his darling sons arc 
safe in my capital and happy under the mighty protection 
of Visvamitra. 1 " 

So spake Jan<ika, most eloquent > and the holy One 
signifying his assent thereto, the king despatched his 
trusted ministers to \yodhya with precise orders to inform 
Dasaratha of what transpired at Mithila and request the 
favour of his presence there. 

Dasaratha invited to Mithila. 

Janakd's messengers spent three days on the road and 
with tiled steeds, reached the lordly Ayodhya on the fourth. 

Approaching the royal palace, they spake unto the 
wardens, " Haste ye and inform your lord and master that 
theenv)ys ol Janak.i await his pleasure." 

Dasaratha was informed of this at once and back they 
conveyed his commands to the messengers, ll Ye are welcome 
to enter the royal palace, glorious in its magnificence/' 

They did so and soon stood in the presence of the Lord 
of Kosala, the aged Dasaratha, like unto the Angels of 
Light. With folded palms and restrained selves, the mes- 
sengers humbly addressed the king in sweet words and 
calm. u Our master Janaka, the Ruler of Mithila, makes 
anxious enquiries through us again and again, in sweet 
and friendly terms, of thy well-being and peace of heart. 
Is it well with thee and with thy kinsmen?. Is thy heart 

R 25 


ever engaged in the welfare of thy subjects ? Do the house- 
hold Fires receive due worship at thy hands ? Thy priests 
and teachers, is it all well with them ? Does the current of 
their lives flow on smoothly and are they ever intent upon 
tiie search for Truth and upon the proper discharge of the 
duties of their high office 7 Are thy people happy and con- 
tented as ever? Next, \vith the permission of the great 
Viswamitra, he ventures to place before thee this request. 
4 It is not unknown to thee that I have instituted a trial of 
valour and skill among the various princes of the Earth 
and mighty warriors ; my daughter Sita, of divine beauty, is 
the prize of him who \vins over the heads of the competitors. 
Great kings and famous warriors sought her hand and 
essayed the test I have set foi them , but ihcv \ve4C as 
nothing before thy valiant son who chanced to come here 
in the wake ot the sage Viswamitra. Thy god-like boy 
distanced them unspeakably and earned away the prize 
ot valour trom among the midst of countless champions, 
older in years, renowned kings of the Earth and veterans 
worn with light and grown grey in war In a vast con- 
course of the assembled multitudes of the Earth, princes 
and peasants, warriors and citizens, saints and sages, thy 
son, Sri Rama, of divine presence, broke in twain the 
wonderful bow entrusted to me by the Lord Mahadeva 
And so I should, as promised, give my daughter Sita in 
marriage to him as the prize ol Val >ur. I entreat thy 
consent to my request and pray thee to enable me keep 
my word Deign thou 10 bless my humble ab >de with 
thy presence along with thy saintly priests and teachers. 
Tarry not, tor thou shouldst, ot a truth, behold thy lordly 
sons even now. It behoves thee to gladden a friend's heart 
and I doubt not that thou wilt give inexpressible pleasuie 
to thy dear sons. 1 Thus ekes our lord and master. King 
Janaka of Mithila, speak to thee, in accents sweet and wise. 
Viswamitra sanctions his request and graciously thinks 


with him. They delivered themselves thus and paused, 
restrained by the lordly presence of the ruler of Ayodhya. 

Dasaratha heard the message of his friend and brother 
king ; it sank deep into his heart and gladdened it beyond 
wetds. He turned himself to his spiritual guides, Vasishtha 
and Vamadeva and to his other councillors and said, 
11 Kausalya's Delight and my heart's joy, resides at present 
at the capital of the Videhas, led thereunto by the mightv 
Visvamitra, who extends over them his envied protection. 
Janaka, the great-souled One, has had an opportunity of 
acquainting himself in person with the might and prowess 
of Rama ; and now he desires to give Ins daughter in 
marriage unto Raghava. If his proposal seems good and 
fitting in your eyes, (and Janaka is not unknown to you as a 
royal sage), we should make haste to proceed to his capital, 
for it becomes us not to delav. v 

The sages assembled and the ministers, whose hearts 
were ever turned towards the interest of their master, express- 
ed their ] )y!ul assent and approval. Then, Dasaratha gave 
it out to his ministers that he intended starting the next day. 
Meanwhile, the env jys of Janaka were invited to pass the 
night there and with right r,>yal welcome and cheeriul talk, 
the hours passed away. 

Janaka and Dasaratha. 

The next nurning Dasaratha repaired to the council- 
chamber where he his kinsmen and priests awaited his 
presence. He called unto him Su mantra the Faithtul 
and said " Let those in charge of the Royal Treasury 
start to day in advance and take with them large stores of 
gold and gems. The armies of our kingdom shall be ready 


to march as soon as I give word, elephant, horse, foot and, 
chariot 5 the conveyances relays and baggage-vans shall 
company them. Kindly request the holy sages Vasishtha, 
Vamadeva, Jabali, Kasyapa, and Markandeya the long-lived, 
to honour me by going in advance ; and have my chariot 
ready as soon as you can. Janaka's envoys are hurrying 
us and we have already delayed too long". 

It was done, and in no time were they on the road, the 
sages in advance, the king next, and the army following 
behind. They marched by easy stages and on the fifth 
day sighted the realms of Janaka, who, duly informed of 
their approach, welcomed them right royally. 

Soon he met the aged monarch and his heart rejoiced 
thereat. " Had your majesty a pleasant journey hither and 
safe ? " inquired he affectionately of Ins royal guest. 
"Honoured am I beyond words by your gracious visit to 
my humble place, Soon shall your heart rejoice to see 
the laurels your noble boy has won from many an 
older rival. And may I hope that the holy One there, even 
Vasishtha, has had a pleasant journey and the countless 
Brahmanas that have blessed my fortunate country by 
coming along with him, Verily do I seem to behold again 
the Ruler of the Immortals, Indra, girt by his band of Shining 
Ones. Sure am I that my dark days arc over and my race 
stands high in the esteem of the worlds, m that I have been 
fortunate to secure an alliance with the high-souled 
Raghus, that mighty line of warriors. The morning Sun 
rises on the last day of my sacrificial rite and at its close 
I wish the wedding to be celebrated. The sages approve 
of it and I add my own request if it would be of any use." 

To which, the aged Dasaratha replied in apt and 
skilful words (and he was no novice at that). " Friend of 
my heart ! " said he, with a meaning glance at the sages 
around " have I heard right that the receiver of a gift 


awaits the pleasure and the convenience of the giver ? You. 
are to us the ideal of all virtues and we are ever glad to 
abide by your directions.'' 

Janaka of Videha was struck with amaze at this reply 
of the saintly Dasaratha of straight sp( ech, so thoroughly 
consonant as it was with righteousness and so highly re- 
dounding to his praise. They parted for the night and it 
was a pleasant time for the sages, who enjoyed unfeigned 
delight in the company of their brothers in wisdom, old 
friends and mates. 

While, to the aged Dasaratha, it was the happiest day 
of his life, tie could never gaze enough at his dear boys 
and his eyes were never off their lovely faces for a 
moment. What with the joy at being restored to his 
loved ones and what with the princely and hearty 
welcome of Janaka, the night wore away all too soon. 

On his part, Janaka brought the sacrificial rite to a 
happy conclusion. Great was the glory of his spirit, for 
he was the wisest of his age and his eye saw into the Heart 
of things ; and in the sweet company of his daughters 
did the winged Hours pass in swift flight, in peace of heart 
and joyful anticipation. 

The Race of the Sun. 

The next morning, Janaka, having finished his daily 
round of religious observances, turned to his chaplain Sata- 
nanda, even as he sat in the midst of the sages, and said, " It 
is not unknown to you that Kusadhvaja, my younger 
brother, of great energy, resides in the blessed Sankasya ; 
magnificient, even as the Pushpaka ; the aerial car, it is 


situated on tb& banks of Ikshumati, whose furthest limits 
attend unto the sharp stakes let into the bed of the rapid 
river. Him da I desi to see, for he is the protector of my 
sacrifice ; and he should, of a truth, share this joy with me." 

He spoke apd soon there stood before him mes- 
sengers, quick of grasp, skilful of speech and fleet of foot ; 
and at the command of the king, they were away, on swift 
horses, to bring the royal Kusadhvaja ; even so do the 
messengers of Indra haste for the Lord Vishnu. They were 
at Sankasya in no time and communicated unto its ruler the 
pleasure of his royal brother. He lost no lime in complying 
with it and very soon had the pleasure of touching the feet 
of the godlike Janaka and his high priest Satananda. Janaka 
directed him to take his seat ; then sent for the prime minis- 
ter, Sudaman, and said to him, " Seek thou audience 
of the Ruler of Ayodhya, and request his presence here with 
his sons and ministers." 

Sudaman bowed low to lus master and proceeded 
straight to the royal quarters of Dasaratha, to whom he res- 
pectfully conveyed the message of hib lord. li Monarch of 
Ayodhya ! my master would know if it would please you to 
go ever to his residence,with your sons, priests, chaplain 
and others. 1 ' 

" We follow you " replied Dasaratha and very soon he 
was at the royal palace of Janaka, accompanied by his kins- 
men, the holy sages and his countless retinue. " Your 
Majesty ! said he " the holy Vasishtha here is the patron 
saint of the line of Ikshvaku ; he is our spokesman on every 
important occasion and you know it. With the permission 
of Visvamitra and the other sages here, he will now proclaim 
our royal lineage to all who may list." 

He spoke and ceased ; and Vasishtha, turning to Janaka 
and the assembled kings, spoke thus. " From the Unnianifest- 
ed One issued Brahma ; and from the Four-faced One, 


eternal, ancient and unchanging* was born Marichi ; Marichi 
begat Kasyapa ; Kasyapa begat Vivaswan ; Vivaswan begat 
Manu, known as the Vaivaswata, the first Lord of Men ; Manu 
begat Ikshvaku, the first king of Ayodhya ; Ikshvaku begat 
Kukshi ; Kukshi begat Vikukshi ; Vikukshi begat Bana ; 
Bana begat Anaranya ; Anaranya begat Prithu ; Prithu begat 
Trisanku * Trisanku begat Dundhumara > Dundhumara 
begat Yuvanaswa J Yuvanaswa begat Mandhata > Mandhata 
begat Susandhi 5 Susandhi begat Dhruvasandhi and Prase- 
najit 5 Dhruvasandhi begat Bharatas Bharata begat Asita. 

And him did liis foes, the Haihayas, the Talajanghas 
and the Sasabindus, confront in battle > his forces defeated 
and dispersed, the weak and spiritless Asita fled from his 
kingdom, and took refuge in the solitary depths of Bhrigu 
Prasravana and with him his ministers. Two wives had 
he, big with child at that time. One of them bore a bitter 
hatred towards the other and managed to poison her food. 
At that time, Chyavana, of the line of Bhrigu, a sage of 
mighty powers, lived thereib )uts > and him did one of the 
queens wait upjn to be blessed with a fair boy. Kalindi 
(as she was called) the fair-eyed, (it was she who waspjison- 
ed by her rival) approached the Holy One and prayed to 
haveasm born unto her. " In thy womb" replied he 
" there lies a son of immeasurable strength, great lustre and 
unfathomable energy. .But, poison, terrible in its eftects, 
permea f es his frame. Grieve not, noble lady ! for he will 
come to nv) mishap through that/ She bowed and 
retired > and unto her, devjted to her lord and heavy of 
heart at his misfortune, there was born, through the grace 
of Chyavana, a sjn, who came out of the womb even with 
the pjison upjn him administered unto his mother by her 
rival. Hence the world knew him as Sagara. 

Sagara begat Asamanjas ; Asamanjas begat Amsuman ; 
Amsuman begat Dilipa 5 Dilipa begat Bhagiratha > 


Bhagiratha begat Kakutstha ; Kakutstha begat Raghu; 
Raghu begat Pravriddha, the Man-eater, otherwise known 
as Kalmashapada ; Pravriddha begat Sankhana > Sankhana 
begat Sudarsana 5 Sudarsana begat Agnivarna > Agnivarna 
begat Sighraga \ Sighraga begat Maru > Maru begat 
Prasusruka ; Prasusruka begat Ambarisha 5 Ambarisha 
begat Nahusha > Nahuslia begat Yayati 5 Yayati begat 
Nabhagha ; Nabhagha begat Aja 5 Aja bsgat Dasaratha ; 
Dasaratha begat Rama and his brother Lakshmana. 

And on behalf of the brothers, the worthy descendants 
of Ikshvaku, whose royal race is characterised by spotless 
purity, devotion to virtue, valor and straight speech, even 
unto the utmost, I ask of you your daughters in marriage, 
Happy will be the alliance and approved of by all, since the 
parties are so highly worthy of each other. 

The line of Janaka. 

And to him thus speaking, replied Janaka, in all reverence, 
"Hail to thee ! great sage I it behoves one who gives away 
his child in marriage to proclaim his ancestry, if he come 
of a high and pure race. So, do me the favor to listen to 
me while I go through the line o" my forefathers of happy 

There lived, of yore, a king, by name Nimi, a pattern 
of everything good and holy. The first and best of 
men, he won for himself immortal renown in all the worlds 
by his rilighty deeds. Mithi was his son and he gave his 
name unto Mithila, of which he was the founder. He was 
the first who bore the name of Janaka ; and after him Uda- 
vasu, Nandivardhana, Suketu, Devarata, Brihadratha, Maha- 
vira, Sudhriti of great forittucje and prowess, Dhrishtaketu, 


Haryasva, Maru, Pratindhaka, Kirtiratha, Devamidha, 
Vibudha, Mahldhraka, Kirtiratha, Maharoma, Swarnaroma, 
and Hrisvaroma ruled in succession, father and son. 

And to the last, of noble soul, who knew better than 
many others the Mysteries of the Great Law, were born 
two sons, myself and next to me, the valiant Kusadhwaja. 

After a long and happy reign, my father placed me 
in his seat and sought the quiet solitudes of the forest, 
committing to my charge the kingdom and my brother. 
And when my father departed for the bright abodes of the 
Blessed, I ruled over the land, following in the path of 
Justice trod by my ancestors of old, and with a brother's 
fond love cherished Kusadhwaja, the apple of my eye. 

Sometime after, Sudhanva, the powerful ruler of San- 
kdsya, besieged Mithila and sent me this insulting message, 
" Fail not to send me the bow of Siva that thou hast in thy 
keeping and thy lotus-eyed daughter Sita along with it". 
Of course I could not put up with such an ungracious 
demand ; and in consequence, went forth to meet him in 
battle and laid him low. And to Kusadhwaja, whose valour 
gained me the day, I made over the kingdom of Sudhanva. 
I am the first born of my father and he comes next to me. 
Verily shall I give my daughters in marriage unto your 
sons of mighty renown, Sita of godlike beauty to Rama, who 
bore her of as the prize of valour; and Urmila, her sister, to 
Lakshmana. Doubt me not ; you have my hand and word 
upon it, once, twice and thrice. It is with a glad heart that 
I keep my plighted troth; it is a pleasure to me and an honor 
to give my girls into your house. So, lose no time in going 
through the preliminary rites of marriage Samavartana 
and Nandi Sraddhas, The constellation Magha rules 
over this day ; and on the third from this, shalt we perform 
the marriage under Uttara Phalguni. For, I shall, of a truth, 
give my girls in marriage to your sons Rima and Lakshmana. 



answered him Visvamitra, while Vasishtha signi- 
fied his assent thereto; "The royal houses of Ikshw&ku 
and Videha, inconceivable is their glory and immeasurable. 
Search as you may, you come not across any that stand 
beside these. Rama and Lakshmana, Sita and OrmilS. stand 
beautifully matched, in beauty of form and righteousness of 
heart. But one more word I beseech you, Kusadhwaja 
here, your worthy brother, is the father of two maidens of 
peerless beauty ; and them I would even ask of you in 
marriage unto the great -souled princes, Bharata and Satrugh- 
na. Sons of the royal Dasaratha, the beautiful youths, of 
god-like prowess, yield not the palm to the great Deities 
themselves that rule the spheres. Grant my request, and 
knit in bonds indissoluble the royal houses of Ikshwaku 
and Janaka. " 

This proposal of the sage of holy vows, fell honey- 
sweet on the ears of the Lord of Mithila ; and doubly so, 
in that they were warmly supported by Vasishtha ; 
and he hastened to reply in all reverence. 

"Thrice blessed indeed is my house, inasmuch as 
your holy selves are pleased to pronounce the alliance 
a well-matched one. Hail ! saintly ones ! Be it so ; let 
Bharata and Satrughna take the daughters of Kusadhwaja 
to wife. A beautiful sight it would be to see the four 
maidens wedded to the four royal sons of Dasaratha on 
the same day. The wise astrologers hold that the most 
auspicious day for marriage is that on which the moon 
is in conjunction with the asterism Uttara Phalguni ; for, 
fJhaga, th$ Lord of Generation, is ruler thereof," 


He stood up and approaching the holy pair, resumed, 
"Your humble pupil am I, to whom you have deigned to 
show high favor. May you be pleased to grace these excel- 
lent seats. Dasaratha lords these wide domains of mine and 
he grants me no less lordship over Ayodhya. Hesitate not 
to exercise your authority here and do what you will with 
your own." 

Then replied unto him the Lord of Ayodhya u You 
and your worthy brother here, are famed over the 
earth for your manifold graces of heart and mind. Right 
royally have you entertained the sages and the numerous 
kings here. All good be yours. Give me leave to retire to 
my quarters, for I have to perform the preliminary Srad- 

And with the permission of Janaka, Dasaratha 
repaired unto his palace, and Visvamitra and Vasishtha along 
with him. The Siaddhas were duly conducted and the 
next morning, the king set about to perform the 
Gift of Kine. Hundreds of thousands did he give 
away to pious Brahmanas, to secure the welfare of 
his sons. A hundred thousand cows, full-yielding, he 
gave away in the name of each one of his sons, their 
horns plated with gold, each with its calf and milking ves- 
sel of bronze. And in honor of that glorious occasion of 
the Gift of Kine, did he make the virtuous Brahmanas 
royal presents of untold wealth. The rites over, the aged 
Monarch sat there in the midst of his four sons and looked 
as grand and glorious as the Self-born One, surrounded by 
the Guardians of the Worlds on high. 



selfsame day did Yudhajit, son of the Kekaya 
king and uncle to Bharata on his mother's side, reach 
Mithila. Dasaratha welcomed him warmly ; and after 
mutual enquiries of welfare, did the visitor address the Lord 
of Kosala. " The Ruler of Kekaya makes anxious inquiries 
after your well-being and desires me to tell you that those 
in whose welfare you are interested, enjoy peace 
and happiness. His heart yearns for a sight of 
my sister's boy and I am here to take him back. 
They told me at Ayodhya, that you had come over 
here with your sons to celebrate their marriage ; and 
all eager to see my nephew, did I hasten here on the 
wings of speed/' 

A welcome guest was he to Dasaratha, who 
entertained the worthy prince right royally. A happy 
night they passed ; and next morning Dasaratha finished 
his religious observances and followed the sages on to the 
sacrificial grounds. At the auspicious moment, Vijaya, 
Rama and his brothers, having completed the preliminary 
rites, came to the place in the wake of Vasishtha and the 
other sages of holy vows and sat by their royal sire. 

Then rose up Vasishtha and spoke to Janaka. " Dasa- 
ratha, the Lord of Ay6dhya and his sons have come here 
ready for the consummation of the marriage, and await the 
pleasure of the Giver. Eternal blessings crown the heads 
of him that gives and him that takes. Perform this 
marriage and act up to your traditions." 

At which words of the holy Vasishtha, Janaka, broad of 
heart and profound in his knowledge of Righteous- 
ness, cried out " Who stands warden at my gate and yet 


awaits my orders to inform me of the arrival of my royal 
guests ? This kingdom is yours to command and curious is 
your hesitation to make yourself at home in it. My daugh- 
ters, behold them seated near the altar, like lambent ton- 
gues of flame ; they have gone through the preliminary 
rites and I but await your arrival. Why not my royal 
brother proceed straight hither, but tarries ? " 

Dasaratha accepted the kind invitation and hastened to 
enter the hall and the princes and the sages along with him. 

Janaka then turned to Vasishtha and prayed, " Holy 
one ! Thou and thy saintly brethren here, conduct the 
marriage rites of Rama, the Worlds' Delight." 

* 4 So be it" replied the sage, and proceeding to the altar 
along with Visvanutra and Satananda, laid out the fire-place 
therein and decorated it with sweet perfumes and bright flo- 
wers. Fresh shoots peeped out from many a vessel of gold, 
from many a branching vase, from many a jewelled bowl, 
ranged upon it in neat procession, while countless cen- 
sers wafted sweet perfumes over the hall. Shells, spoons, 
ladles, salvers, ready prepared to welcome the honored 
guest, fried corn and colored rice unbroken in gemmed 
goblets, stood there in magmficient array. With solemn 
rites they spread the sacred grass thereon and lighted the 
holy fire, while Vasishtha made offerings to the Radiant God. 
Janaka then led forward Sita gaily attired for the occasion and 
placed her before the Fire, in front of Rama, and spoke these 
words of solemn import. 

" Sita here, my daughter, shares with thee the duties 
of lite. Accept her from me in sign of holy wedlock. 
May all good be thine. 

A faithful wife she will prove to thee, my noble girl, 
and will ever be with thee, even as thy own shadow. 1 

He paused and poured over Rama's hands the conse- 
crated water. Shouts of applause and approval from sages 


and gods shook the hall and rang along the welkin ; 
celestial music played on high and flowers of heavenly fra- 
grance rained on the happy couple. 

Sita thus given in marriage with due rites, Janaka next 
turned to Lakshmana and with a joyful heart exclaimed, 
11 Come unto me, Lakshmana, and recieve from me my 
daughter Urmila, whom I bestow upon you. Be quick 
about it and all good be yours." 

Bharata's turn came next and to him said Janaka, 
"Noble scion of the race of Raghu! Take thou Mandavl 
unto thee for wife" ; and last came Satrughna, to whom 
Janaka made over Srutakirti with the words " Join ye your 
hands in holy bands of matrimony. Every one of you is 
blessed with all desirable graces of body and mind and 
have kept your observances ; and it is but meet that you 
take upon yourselves the duties of a householder's life. " 

Whereupon, the four royal youths clasped the hands 
of the four maidens, directed thereunto by the holy 
Vasishtha. The princes then went round the Sacred 
Fire, the altar, Janaka and the sages assembled ; and the 
after-marriage rites were duly gone through as enjoined by 
the Holy Books. And no sooner did the bridal pairs join 
hands than the delighted gods showered upon their happy 
heads the flowers of heaven. Music gay and martial, 
blended with the sweet strains of the golden-throated 
Gandharvas, while the lovely Apsarasas danced in joyous 
throng thereto. Such was the wonderful sight witnessed 
on the wedding day of those illustrious descendants of 
Raghu. And with the joyful notes still in their ears, did 
the valiant youths pace the Sacred Fires around, once, twice 
and thrice and lead their happy brides homeward ; while, 
girt by his kinsfolk, did Janaka follow near, fondly gazing. 



the shades of Night melted away before the 
golden shafts of the Orb of Day, Visvamitra took 
kind leave of the kings and departed for his distant home in 
the north, leaving behind him his mighty blessings, that 
hovered around the princes even as ministering angels. And 
close upon that came the departure of king Dasaratha for 
his capital, to which his brother-king gave reluctant leave. 

Loth to part, Janaka followed him a long way ; and 
right royal was the dowry he bestowed on his 
girls. Herds of kine past count ; rare and costly 
carpets ; cloths of lovely texture and priceless value ; un- 
told wealth in gold and gems, coral and pearl, slaves and 
servants, horses and elephants, chariots and troops, magni- 
ficiently attired and gaily caparisoned; these and many other 
gifts evidenced his loving heart and royal munifi- 
cience. It was with much ado that Dasaratha could 
persuade the happy king to turn back to his capital. 

Well, it was over, the painful parting ; and the 
Ruler of Ayodhya, set his face towards his capital and 
journeyed thither by easy stages, in the sweet company 
of his noble sons and the saintly hermits. 

And him thus proceeding, there met the frightful cries 
of birds, ill-omened and harsh ; while the beasts of the earth 
passed from right to left, signs of good, strangely contra- 
dicting the former. His heart in a quiver with fatherly 
anxiety and his senses all in a whirl, Dasaratha turned 
questioning eyes of fear to Vasishtha and cried, 

" Lo ! these signs ! Hoarse are the cries of the birds 
^t large, and bocte no good. The beasts of the forest 


from right to left and that presages safety. I feel a dire 
sinking of the heart and a mist rises before my eyes. 
What may it be, your Reverence ? " 

And to him the sage returned sweet answer, " The 
birds warn us of the near approach of some fearful danger, 
while the beasts allay it. Let not this trouble thy royal 

And upon them thus conversing, there rushed a mighty 
wind at which the solid earth trembled in affright, and the 
giant trees of the forest strewed the ground with their shat- 
tered limbs. A pall of darkness swept across the bright 
luminary ; the quarters of the earth were confused, North 
and South, East and West and could scarce be discerned. 
Next, a shower of ashes rained down and reft them of what 
little reason they had. Alone, Vasishtha and the other sages, 
Dasaratha and his sons, appeared to be aware of what was 
taking place around them. 

And in that fearful darkness in which the armies 
of the king were dimly visible even as so many 
statues of ashes, they saw a terrible Being approach, with 
massive coils of matted hair crowning his lofty head. Rama 
of the Axe was he, the son of Jamadagm, of the royal race of 
Bhrigu, even the dread One who laid low, time and oft, 
the proudest heads of the earth. Strong and unassailable 
even as the mighty Kailasa, unapproachable even as the 
Fire of Dissolution, blazed forth his lustre, from which 
the eyes of ordinary men shrank away blinded. On his lofty 
shoulders rested the terrible Axe and a huge bow ready 
strung , his hand grasped a mighty dart, even as the Lord 
Mahadva when he went forth against the Demons of the 
Three Cities. 

Great was the anxiety that filled the heart of Vasishtha 
and the other sages of pure vows and strict observances ; 
and they spake to one another, <( Is it possible that the cruel 


fate of his sire still rankles in his heart and he has once 
again lifted his terrible axe against the royal race on earth ? 
Dire was the vengeance he took and ample ; he put away 
his anger and with it his desire for vengeance. It behoves 
him not to lay his axe once again at the root of the Solar 
Race ". 

They hastened to offer him respect due and sought 
to pacify the fiery spirit with sweet words of welcome. 
He of the Axe accepted it of the sages ; and as if heeding 
them not, haughtily turned towards Rama the son of 
Dasaratha and cried out. 

R 27 



! thou son of Dasaratha, Rama, the voice of 
fame speaks in no measured tones of thy marvel- 
lous might. Thy breaking of the bow of Mahadeva at 
Janaka's hall, I know it all. That was a wonderful feat and 
one would hardly think thee capable of it. Close on the 
heels of the report I hastened hither with this bow. String 
thou this weapon of my honoured sire no light task for thy 
boyish hands and fit this shaft to it. Then shall thou con- 
vince me of thy boasted might ; and then shall I be pleased 
to offer thee the coveted honour of battle with me for, thy 
valour would then entitle thee to be so distinguished." 

At which words of terrible import, the aged 
king turned towards him of the Axe a face blan- 
ched with terror and pitiable with grief and hands of 
humble entreaty and said " A Brahamana thou and of 
cloudless fame, thou hadst, long ere this, laid aside thy 
relentless vengeance against the race of kings. With 
raised hands I implore thee to harm not my innocent 
ones. Of the race of Bhrigu thou comest, men renowned 
for saintly wisdom and chaste vows. Thy word thou 
passed unto the Lord of the Celestials and laid aside thy 
weapon of wrath. Thou betookest thyself to the paths of 
peace and righteousness, made over the earth that was 
thine by conquest unto Kasyapa, and sought the quiet 
solitudes of Mahendra. And lo! here hast thou come to 
send us all along the path of destruction ; for, doubt not 
that we will outlive Rama, our life and soul if any harm 
should light on his fair head. " 

But Parasurama seemed to ignore him and his words 


and addressed himself again to Rama. "Of yore, Visvakar- 
man, the Architect of the Gods, fashioned two bows, strong, 
firm and of celestial might, famed through all the worlds. 
One of them the Gods gave to Siva when he marched forth 
to destroy the fierce Asuras of the Three Cities ; and that 
was the one you happened to break. The other that I have 
here, was given to the Lord Vishnu, equal in strength to 
the one handled by Rudra and no easy thing to essay. 

Lo ! how it blazes forth in its divine lustre ! 

Well, the gods sought out Brahma and questioned him 
about the respective mights of the Lords Vishnu and Maha- 
deva. The Selt-born One read into their hearts and set the 
one against the other. Great was the fight that ensued 
between the two and frightful to behold ; for, each strove 
his best to get the better of the other, 

Then Vishnu sent forth a mighty shout. * Hum ' he 
cried and the terrible bow of Mahadeva gave way, and he 
himself was stupified thereby. Then, Angels and Gods, 
sages and saints, approached and implored them to 
lay aside their wrath. When they beheld the bow of 
Siva break before the might of Vishnu, the shadow of 
doubt that lurked in the hearts of the Gods vanished and 
Vishnu stood the mightier of the two. Having paid high 
reverence unto Him, they took respectful leave of Rudra 
and left for their respective regions and Brahma and Indra 
along with them. 

The Lord Mahadeva, his heart still sore with the 
sense of defeat, gave his bow and shafts to king 
Devarata of the Videhas : while Vishnu handed over his 
mighty bow and arrows unto Richika of the line of Bhrigu. 

My sire Jamadagni, of unrivalled prowess, got it from 
him. Later on he engaged himself in severe austerities 
and unspeakable was the might that accrued to him there- 


by: and he laid aside his weapons of war, useless to him 
and never to be resumed. But, King Arjuna, base of heart, 
slew in cold blood the unoffending sage. The cruel death 
of my innocent sire burnt into my heart like molten 
lead and cried out for vengeance, dire and swift. 
And I laid my axe at the root of the race of kings, times 
out of count, as fast as they grew. I wiped them off the 
face of the earth, which I subdued by the might of my 
arms. And at a grand sacrifice, I offered it as a gift to the 
great Kasyapa, the Holy One. Thereafter I repaired to 
Mount Mahndra and engaged myself in severe aus- 
terities. There do I yet remain, in that happy resort of 
Gods and Angels. 

But, to-day I happened to hear the Gods 
speak to one another in the high heavens of thy 
wonderful feat, in tones of admiration and awe. They 
said that thou, out of thy marvellous energy, broke asun- 
der the divine bow of Siva ; and all at once 1 hastened 
thither to assure myself of the truth of the report. 

Take thou this bow, used of yore by the Lord Vishnu. 
Walk in the path of thy forefathers of stainless fame. 
Fit thou this shaft of fiery energy unto the string. Well, if 
thou but succeed in doing that, I shall then be glad to 
offer thee a chance to measure thyself with me." 



heard him out ; his father's presence kept back 
the hot words that rose to his lips ; yet, he managed 
to reply in cool and even accents of icy disdain. 

" Worthy descendant of Bhngu ! Not unknown to 
me your fierce deeds, which I excuse in consideration of 
the debt of vengeance you owe your honored sire. But 
you seem to regard me as a low specimen of the warrior 
class, weak and despicable, fallen from the high traditions 
of his forefathers. Well, this day shall you have a chance 
of knowing me better ; and shall convince yourself of my 
energy and valour." 

A storm of suppressed wrath shook his powerful frame 
as he, with a quick motion and grace, took the bow and 
arrow from the hands of the dread son of Jamadagni. 
Playfully he strung it and laid the arrow on the string ; 
then turned himself to Rama of the Axe and cried in words 
winged witli angry flame, 

"This divine shaft, used by the Lord Vishnu, strikes 
down the mighty and shrivels up the energy and pride of 
him against whom it is discharged. None can shoot it in 
vain. But you are a Brahmana and an object of reverence 
unto me ; and doubly so, in that you claim kinship with 
my venerable Master, Visvamitra. That alone keeps back 
the shaft, which, else, would have drunk your heart's blood 
ere this. 

Now, which do you choose ? Shall I deprive you of 
the high regions you have won by the force of your Tapas; 
or of your unimpeded power of motion through the worlds 
above and below ?". 


Meanwhile, Gandharvas and Apsarasas, Siddhas and 
Charanas,Kinnaras and Yakshas, Rakshasas and Nagas, sages 
and gods, flocked to the spot to behold that wonderful sight, 
and at their head, the Ancient of Days, Brahma, They 
saw the son of Dasaratha as he stood there, his hand grasp- 
ing the mighty bow of Vishnu and the dread shaft drawn 
to his ear and ready to take its flight. The beings of 
the Earth stood dazed and listless; while the haughty 
son of Jamadagni felt himself drained of his valour and 
fiery might and gazed powerlessly on the hero. The 
superior energy of Rama absorbed his proud strength and 
sunk him in torpor quite. 

Then, lifting eyes of lack-lustre hue to the bright-eyed 
boy before him, he spoke in accents slow and painful. 

"Of yore, I made a gift of this broad earth to Kasyapa. 
'A moment ago' said he, 'you were lord of the world, but now 
it is mine. And you shall not stay in my dominions.' The 
words of the great One are a law unto me ; and I make it a 
point never to pass the night here. I have given my word unto 
Kasyapa that the Earth shall be his. So I would even request 
you take not from me my power of free motion through 
the worlds. Quicker than a flash of thought, shall I speed 
back to whence I came, the beautiful Mount Mahendra. 
Worlds of surpassing glory have I won by my hard Tapas; 
this powerful dart shall destroy them for me. Delay 
not. Your wonderful mastery of this divine weapon has 
opend my eyes to the great truth. Know I not that Thou 
art the Changeless One, the Destroyer of Madhu, whom 
the Lords of Light are proud to call their God 
and Ruler. All glory be hine, Thou scourge of the 
wicked ! Behold the Shining Ones ranged along the sky> 
gazing with never satisfied eyes on Thee, of unparalleled 
fame, and of unapproachable energy in battle. No sense 
of disgrace do I feel at being discomfited by Thee, the Lord 


of the Universe. Let loose the shaft, I pray Thee and soon 
shalt Thou see me taking my way to Mahendra." 

Then Sri Rama discharged the arrow of divine might ; 
and the son of Jamadagni lost the bright regions that he 
had made his own by his long and severe Tapas. Rama 
of the Axe went round in meek reverence Rama, the 
son of Dasaratha and sang his praises high. The bright 
gods ranged along the firmament took up the strain and 
made the welkin ring with their shouts of joy. Back sped 
Parasurama to Mount Mahendra ; and the Earth and the 
sky were bright again and clear and the quarters thereof. 



"HEN Rama of the Axe had taken his departure, the 
victor handed over the bow and arrows to Varuna 
of unspeakable might, who stood by invisible to the rest. 
He then saluted Vasishtha and the other sages with profound 
reverence, and turning to his sire found him still dazed 
with grief and fear. 

*' Jamadagni's fiery son, " cried he " is far away by this 
time, and will not return in a hurry. Give orders to your 
forces and retinue to resume their march towards Ayddhyd, 
delayed by this trifling annoyance. See you not they wait 
for it impatiently ? " 

" Gone is Jamadagm' s son" these words fell like 
sweet music on the ears of the afflicted Dasaratha and 
brought him round. He strained his darling to his breast, 
smelt him on the head, felt him all over to see whether he 
was safe and said to himself, "Verily, this day have I 
passed through the dread portals of Death and come back 
among the living I and my dear son. " And with a 
bright face he directed his troops to proceed' to his capital. 

Right royal and hearty was the welcome his happy 
citizens accorded to their beloved monarch, of 
untarnished glory, come back among them with his sons of 
mighty arms. They advanced to meet him, even when he 
was far away from the city and lined the roads leading 
thereto. And Dasaratha entered his capital amidst the hearty 
blessings of the BrUhmaoas and the jubilant shouts of 
welcome of his loyal subjects. Gaily they decked it for 
the occasion ; the roads were swept clean and well-watered 
and strewed thick with sweet flowers of rare perfume ; 


pennons and flags, banners and streamers, festoons and 
garlands, triumphal arches and inscriptions met him on 
every side ; sweet strains of music, vocal and instrumental, 
gay and solemn, martial and melodious greeted his pleased 
ears wherever he turned. And thus he and his sons of 
mighty fame passed on to his royal home, that towered aloft 
even as the lofty Home of Ice and Snow and as gay and 
grand. Joy unspeakable filled his aged heart ; for were not 
his desires fulfilled, even beyond his wildest hopes ? 

Meanwhile, KausalyS. and Sumitra, Kaikfeyl and the 
other queens of Dasaratha, were busily happy with wel- 
coming to their royal home the wives of their sons, as 
became their rank and station Sit&, and Ormil4, Mandavt 
and Srutakirti. The princesses were next taken to the 
temples of the gods to offer reverent .worship and 
humble thanksgiving (dressed in gay robes and flash- 
ing with gems and gold), while bards and minstrels, 
poets and eulogists called down every blessing 
on their fair heads. Next, they paid their respects to every 
one that deserved it and repaired unto their mansions, 
^that put to blush the lordly home of the Guardian of 
Riches. They made large gifts to Brahmanas, of kine, 
gold and corn, and passed their lives in the enjoyment of 
every kind of pleasure, in the sweet company of their lords. 

And the royal sons of the Lord of Ayodhya, those 
great-souled Ones, of unequalled fame on earth, ever waited 
on their noble sire with sweet solicitude, anticipating his 
least wishes. The hearts of their elders they won by their 
bright virtues and rare tact ; and they were not the ones to 
let any chance go by. Their days were one long dream of 
unalloyed bliss ; for, wherein did they lack ? Married to 
the loves of their hearts, perfect in every art of warfare, 
with the wealth of the worlds at their disposal, 


surrounded by friends who lived in them and for them 
alone, how could their happiness be otherwise than ideal ? 
Sometime after, his father called Bharata unto him and 
seid, " Bharata dear, Yudhajit, your uncle and son of the 
ruler of Kekaya, waits here to take you with him unto his 
kingdom. Him have I promised thereunto at Mithil&, in 
the presence of the saintly ascetics. It behoves you to go 
with him and gladden his heart.' * 

" Nothing would please me better" replied Bharata. 
He saluted his sire and Rama, lovingly embraced Lakshma- 
na, ; and taking kind leave of his mothers and of his mighty 
brother Rama, the sweet fnend of all beings, he took his 
departure, accompanied, of course, by the inseparable 

Rama and Lakshmana, thus left behind, waited upon 
their godly sire of unparalleled renown. Under the advice 
and guidance of his father, Rama, the soul of virtue, look- 
ed after the interests and welfare of the citizens ; but, with- 
al, the duties to his parents and elders were his first care 
and lay next his heart. Even thus did he endear himself 
to all by his sweet ways and saintly life, father and mother,* 
Brahmanas grown gi ey in sacred lore, and the loyal citi- 
zens, happy under the benign rule of his father. His unfail- 
ing might, and ideal virtues outran his growing fame ; and 
all looked up to him in love and reverence, even as the 
created beings regard their Lord and Maker, the Self-Born 

And the happy years chased one another with light feet 
as they tripped over the heads of Rama and the love of his 
heart, Sita, the fairest of the daughters of the Earth, as 
centred in each other, they grew more and more into 
each other's soul and being. Dear was Slta unto Rama, as 
the wife of his sire's choice ; and dearer yet did she 


herself unto him, through her divine loveliness and rare 
excellences. And Sita loved her lord with a love pass- 
ing speech, passing belief. He was the life of her life, the 
soul of her soul. And heart spoke to heart plainer and more 
powerfully than feeble words, poor expressions of the my- 
nad-hued human thought, Rama's heart went out to her, 
as it did to no one else, to this daughter of Janaka, the 
royal sage of Mithila, fair as a goddess, even as the Divine 
Mother come down among mortals. Nay, the Almighty 
Parents, Vishnu and Lakshmi, had not a brighter home and 
a happier than Rama in the sweet company of his princess 
of ravishing beauty, whose love towards that worthy son of 
the royal sage was boundless as Eternity, stronger than Fate. 







Lecturer, 8 P G College, Tnchtnopofy 





Copyright Registered] [All Right* Resetted 



Dasaratha resolves to crown Rama king ... 3 

Voxpopuli ... ... ... ... 10 

Kingly precepts ... ... ... 16 

> Kausalya's joy ... ... ... 21 

Rama's fast ... ... ... ... 24 

GayAyodhya ... ... .. ... 26 

Manthra the plotter ... ... ... 28 

The tempter ... ... ... ... 32 

The fall of Kaikeyi ... ... ... 37 

The uxorious monarch ... ... ... 43 

The fatal boons ... ... ... ... 48 


In the toils ... ... ... 52 

In the toils (continued.) ... ... ... 68 

Kaikeyi's triumph ,., ... ... 72 



Rama sent for ... ... ... ... 78 

Rama goes to his father ... ... t ... 82 

Rama goes to his father (continued). ... ... 87 

Kaikeyi's triumph ... ... ... 90 , 

11 1 promise" ... ... ... ... 94 

11 You shall not go" ... ... ... 99 

44 You shall not go " (continued.) ... ... 105 

Lakshmana calmed ... ... ... 114 

Lakshmana's reply ... ... ... 118 

Kausalya consents ... ... ... 124 

A mother's blessings ... ... ...128 

" Seeta ! I go to the forest. "... ... ... 131 

Seeta's reply ... ... ... ... 136 

Roughing it ... ... .. ... 139 

Seeta's reply (continued). ... ... ... 141 

The triumph of love ... ... ...145 

Lakshmana's appeal ... ... ... 151 



Pilgrim gifts ... ... ... ... 156 

44 Our place is with Rama" ... ... ... 160 

44 Father ! give me leave to go " ... ... 163 

Sumantra reproaches Kaikeyi ... ... 170 

Siddhartha rebukes Kaikeyi ... ... 175 

Vasishtha rebukes Kaikeyi ... ... 180 

Dasaratha rebukes Kaikeyi ... ... 184 

The Ideal wife ... ... ... ... 188 

Rama's departure ... ... ... 193 

The citizens' lament ... ... ... 199 

Dasaratha's lament ... ... ... 203 

Kausalya's lament ... ... ... 207 

Sumitra consoles Kausalya ... ... ... 210 

The citizens follow Rama ... ... ... 215 

Rama abandons the citizens ... ... 221 

The bereaved citizens ... ... ...223 

The women of Ayodhya ... ... ...225 



Beyond Kosala .., ... ... ... 230 

Sringaberapura ... ... ... ... 232 

Lakshmana laments ... ... ... 237 

Rama crosses the Ganga ... ... ...241 

The searcher of hearts ... ... ... 250 

Bharadvaja ... ... ... ... 254 

Chitrakoota ... ... ... ... 257 

Their forest abode ... ... ... 259 

Sumantra returns to Ay odhya ... ... 263 

Rama's message ... ... ... 267 

Repentance of Dasaratha ... ... ...273 

Sumantra consoles Kausalya ... ... 277 

Kausalya rebukes Dasaratha ... ... 280 

"Lord! I am lost." ... ... ... 285 

The crime of Dasaratha ... ... ...287 

Dasaratha passes away ... ... ...294 

His wives' lament ... ,,. ,,. 302 



Kausalya's lament ... ,.. ,.,305 

Kingless Ayodhya ... ... ...309 

Bharata summoned ... ... ff . 314 

Bharata's dream ... ... ... ...316 

Bharata returns to Ayodhya ... .,. 317 

Bharata returns to Ayodhya (continued) ... 320 

Bharata's grief ... ... ... ...324 

The wages of sin ... ... ...328 

The wages of sin, (continued) ... ... 332 

Bharata's abjuration ... ... ... 337 

Dasaratha's funeral ... ... ... 342 

Dasaratha's funeral (continued) ... ... 345 

The plotter's reward ... ... ...347 

" Not for me, this crown "... ... ... 349 

The road to Ganga ... ... ... 351 

The national assembly ... ... ... 353 

The march to the woods ... ,,, ... 355 



To the banks of the Ganga ... ... ... 359 

Bharata and Guha ... ... ...362 

Guha 's doubts dispelled ... ... ...363 

Guha's narrative ... ... ...566 

Guhas' narrative. (continued) ... ... 370 

Bharata's lament ... ... ... 372 

Bharata crossed the Ganga ... ... 376 

Bharata and Bharadvaja ... ... ... 379 

Bharadvaja's feast ... ... ... 381 

Bharata journeys to Chitrakoota ... ... 388 

The search for Rama's asrama ... ... 392 

Mount: Chitrakoota ... ... ... 394 

The Mandakini ... ... ... ... 396 

Lakshmana's anger ... ... ... 399 

Rama calms Lakshmana ... ... ... 401 

The search for the asrama ... ... ... 404 

Bharata meets Rama ... ... ,.. 406 



Kingcraft ... ... ... ... 410 

Bharata's tidings ... ... ... 423 

Funeral rites ... ... ... ...424 

Rama and the citizens ... ... ...427 

Bharata takes refuge in Rama ... ... 430 

Bharata's dharma ... ... ... 434 

Bharata renews his prayers ... ... 439 

Rama's reply ... ... ... ...443 

Jabali the materialist ... ... ... 445 

The refutation ... ... ... ... 447 

The race of the Sun ... ... ... 452 

The last word upon it ... ... ...454 

Rama's sandals ... ... ... ... 458 

Bharata returns to Ay odhy a , ... ... 461 

A kingless capital ... ... ...462 

Installation of the sandals ... ... ,.. 465 

The exodus of the rishis ,., ., ...467 



MaharshiAtri ... ... ... ...469 


Seeta's antecedents ... ... ...472 


Rama enters the Dandaka ... ... ... 475 



The passage in Balakanda, chapter XVI, " Then 
there appeared, etc/' indicates that " the Lord is He from 
whom this universe comes into being; it lives in Him ; and it 
enters into His bosom at the end." (Taitt-up. Brahmavalli). 
The attributes of the Supreme Person enumerated in the 
Purusha-sookta " I know this great Being, radiant as the 
sun, beyond the confines of Darkness," find an echo in 
the passage in chapter XIX. " I know the real Rama, the 
great-souled One of invincible might' 1 Kasyapa sings His 
glory (ch. XXIX) in terms that make it clear that ,He is the 
Supreme One of inconceivable greatness. All other gods 
stand far below Him, as " the shadow of doubt that lurked 
in the hearts of the gods vanished and Vishnu stood the 
mightier of the two," (ch. LXV). Valmeeki begins this 
kanda to bring out the truth that He is endowed with 
infinite perfections and excellences. 

Or, we may take it that the Balakanda narrates in detail 
that the prominent characters of the poem, are distinguish- 
ed by high lineage ; that they are instructed in the 
mysteries of the science and the art of war by Visvamitra, 
the great Teacher ; that, even so early, they show forth 
their might and valour by their easy victories over Tataka, 


Subahu, Mareecha and the other Rakshasas ; that Rama 
breaks to pieces the bow of Siva ; that he takes back unto 
himself the bow of Vishnu ; and that he is united to 
Seeta (X'ahalakshmi). All this is in perfect consonance with 
the doings of the Lord as related in the succeeding kandas. 
The Ayodhyakanda illustrates his perfect obedience to the 
behests of his father and his vigilant observance of other 
ordinary duties of life. We are also taught duties of a 
higher order. Lakshmana exemplifies the life of one entirely 
devoted to the service of the Lord ; Bharata is the ideal of 
supreme self-surrender to the Lord ; and Satrughna lives 
only in the service of the Lord's Elect. 

Or, it may be that the Balakanda describes the union 
of the Lord with the goddess Sree; while the Ayodhyakanda 
describes his union with the goddess Blioomi 

Or, the Balakanda emphasises the supreme and absolute 
aspect of the Lord, while the Ayodhyakanda brings into 
prominence his accessibility (Soulabhya). 

Or, the Balakanda describes the nature of the Goal 
the Lord as united to Lakshmi, while the Ayodhyakanda des- 
cribes the nature and attributes of the Jeeva (Monad). The 
life of Satrughna illustrates the duty of devoting ourselves to 
the service of the Lord's Elect the simplest means, the 
most secret and the most necessary. 



>ATRUGHNA, the faultless, Satrughna, the proud victor 

over our sleepless foes, Desire and Hate, Greed and p 
Envy, Pride and Ignorance, was affectionately invited by 
Bharata to be his companion during his visit to his uncle, 
Yudhajit. The lord of the Kekayas loved his nephew even 
as his own son ; and entertained him with presents of 
noble steeds, ornaments, dresses and banquets ; yet, 
Bharata stayed there only because his beloved Satrughna 
was with him. Their life was a happy one at the court of 
king Asvapati, with everything that the heart could desire ; 
but, their reverend sire was ever in the thoughts of the 
valiant princes. " The snows of sixty thousand winters 
crown our father's head, even as the lofty Himalaya. It is ^ 
preposterous for any one to expect that he could continue 
to bear on his mighty shoulders the huge burden of govern- 
ment. The gods grant that he crown our Kama king. 
Our place is at his feet, to serve him in all affection and 
reverence ; we but waste the precious moments here " ^0 

All along, the aged Dasaratha, whose fame and 
splendour grew and grew in that he was the thnce- 
fortunate parent of the noble princes, yearned for 
their bright presence. ' It is grievous enough to be parted 
from my Bharata and Satrughna, who are attached to one 25 
another even as Indra and Varuna. All my riches, all my 
power, all my splendour are to me as naught, when the child- 
ren of my heart are not where my aged eyes can fondly rest 
upon them." He looked upon his sons as four arms sprang 
from his body. In his loving heart they found an equal place. 30 
But, even as the great Demiurge, Brahma, among the count- 

4 AYobHYAtfANDAM * [Ctt. 

less myriads who adore him, Rama drew Dasaratha towards 
him by the might of his countless perfections, For, was he not 
Vishnu, the Lord of Eternity, come down on earth as 

35 Rama in response to the prayers of the Gods, who desired 
at his hands the destruction of Ravana whose pride and 
haughtiness knew no bounds ? Aditi, the happy mother of 
Indra, shone not with brighter radiance than Kausalya, the 
thrice blessed mother of Rama, the Lord of Boundless 

40 Light. To none other on earth, or in the heavens, was it 
given to be the mother of such a son, 

He was a dream of beauty, the soul of valour, from 
envy free and like unto his father in character, conduct and 
tastes. Soft and gentle was ever his speech, the true index 

45 of a serene heart ; no one was known to speak to him 
harshly ; and, even if it was so, Rama never spake back, 
nor was provoked to taunts, The lightest act of service 
from any was indelibly graven upon his heart, which magni- 
fied it beyond count and rejoiced beyond measure ; neither 

50 the lapse of time, nor the question of motive affected him 
in the least. But, the evil that others did him, though 
past all count, never left the slightest trace on his memory ; 
for, was he not the Soul of the universe, the Lord of 
matter and its illusions ? 

55 He ever sought the company and conversation of 

good men, grown grey in years, wisdom and virtue, even in 
the intervals snatched from martial exercises, His thoughts 
were ever engaged in the solution of the problem of confer- 
ring the highest happiness possible on humanity, Pleasant 

60 of speech, he was ever the first to address others, however 
low they may be in the social of scale. Of boundless might 
to destroy the foes that threatened his friends and depen- 
dents, yet his heart was ever lowly and meek. He would 
never soil his lips with an untruth, even with a harmless 

65 tale, He ever advanced to meet the elders and reverenced 


them duly. Every one of his subjects was the object of his 
especial care and affection and they returned his love with 
a full measure and overflowing. His heart ever went out in 
pity and compassion to all alike, and the sight of other's 
misery was too much for him to bear. Anger was sternly JQ 
kept under control by him. Men of profound wisdom and 
saintly lives were ever sure of his respect and veneration. 
The needy and the afflicted found a warm corner in his 
heart. He knew the mysteries of Law and Duty in general 
and in detail. He ever set before himself as a law o[ his life 75 
to offer refuge to all beings that should need it, He never 
coveted for the possessions of others. He held it as an 
article of faith that mercy, compassion, protection to 
those that seek it, and stern repression of the wicked 
and the evil-minded, were the pnme duties of his order. It gQ 
was the surest way to win bright fame on earth and the 
brighter worlds of the gods hereafter. Master of every 
art and science, yet he never wasted the precious moments 
of his life in idle games or pastimes. His soul turned 
away with disgust from all idle and coarse talk that lure $5 
men into the paths of evil Like unto Bnhaspati, the 
priest and counsellor of Indra, he was unrivalled in weighty 
speech and quick reply. Rejoicing in the possession of 
perfect health and peace of heart, he was a lovely youth, 
strong and hardy. Men hung on the honeyed words that 99 
flowed from his lips. He well knew the right time and 
place and conditions for the study of the Sacred Law. He 
read at a glance into the innermost depths of the hearts of 
others, their strength, their weakness, their merits and their 
faults. Evil or offence to him, treachery or spite but evoked 95 
from his heart mightier currents of compassion and sympathy. 
Prince Rama, dowered with every excellence and per- 
fection, was dearer to his subjects than the very breath of 
their nostrils, 


100 He sat al the feet of the best and ablest masters and 
reverently learned from them the secrets of every art and 
science. He kept the prescribed vows and observances, 
and duly obtained permission from his teachers to close 
the student's career and take upon himself the heavier res- 

105 ponsibihties of a householder. He was well-versed in vedic 
lore, exoteric and esoteric. He excelled his famed father 
in his proficiency in the arts of war and bowmanship. He 
gloried in his proud and spotless lineage, He was the 
centre of everything good and beneficient, faultlessly per- 

110 feet, and of firm and earnest faith in the Higher Wisdom. 
Of unruffled heart and unclouded intellect, he was ever 
true of speech even under the most trying circumstances.He 
was straight of heart, speech and act. Saintly Brahmanas, 
grown grey in years and wisdom, guided his early steps 

115 on the narrow path ol Right and Duty. The pursuit of Duty, 
Gain and Pleasure had its claims and bounds well-defined 
with him. With a phenomenal keenness of memory, he 
possessed infinite resource and tact and was expert in the 
discharge of civil busings. Respectful to all, he was yet 

120 unfathomable of purpose. His face or acts betrayed not in 
the least the counsel of his heart. His councillors were the 
cleverest of the age. Neither his wrath nor his favour went 
for nothing. He knew full well when to give profusely and 
when to acquire wealth by just means. His heart went 

125 out in adoration to the Gods and to the teachers. His know- 
ledge of the Eternal Verities was clear and profound. He 
kept away from the company of the foolish and the ways of 
the evil-hearted. Softly slow and deliberate of speech, he 
was ever diligent in the pursuit of knowledge and keen to 

130 pierce to the heart of the sciences. No one was more aware 
of his faults and failings or of the weakness of his kingdom 
and of his enemies. The Vedas, the Vedangas, the thirty-two 
sciences, and the sixty-four arts were mastered by him in 


detail. He was intimate with the final truths and conclusions 
on all subjects of human interest. He read at a glance 135 
the fine and delicate distinctions between man and man. 
He was ever assiduous in attracting to himself friends, re- 
fugees and good men, as also in fulfilling the fondest wishes 
of their heart, in consonance with the laws of kingly polity. 
He knew with wonderful precision when to lay the heavy 140 
hand of punishment upon a man and where. The busy bees 
extract not sweet honey from blossoming flowers more 
delicately and without disturbing them, than he filled the 
royal coffers with the wealth ungrudgingly offered by his 
loving subjects He followed the traditions of royalty in 145 
spending a quarter or a half or three-quarters of his income, 
but never more. He was far and away the most learned in 
religious lore and likewise in the lay literature of his age, in 
Sanskrit, Prakrit and the other dialects. Pleasure found in 
him a warm follower, but with strict regard to the demands 150 
of Duty and Gain He put his heart into everything that he 
did. He was proficient in painting, vocal and instrumental 
music, sculpture, poetry and the other departments of the 
fine arts. Works of chanty,and measures that would enhance 
his fame had the first claim upon his wealth ; his friends, 155 
relations and dependents came next ; a third portion was 
set apart as reproductive capital ; and what remained, he 
spent upon himself. None excelled him in the art of train- 
ing and guiding horses, elephants and camels He knew to 
perfection the innermost mysteries of the Science of the 160 
Bow. The foremost warriors of his time ^Atirathas) looked 
upon him as their master. He placed himself at the head 
of his troops, advanced fearlessly upon the embattled ranks 
of the enemy, pierced into their intricate impenetrable 
vyuhas (arrays) and scattered them like chaff before the 165 
wind, all the while warding off danger and disaster from his 
own men. He was expert in marshalling soldiers into various 


and wonderful arrays. Men nor gods nor asuras ever 
dreamt of standing up to him even in their wildest moments 

170 of fury. He put away from himself envy, ill-temper, 
pride and calumny. It was foreign to his nature to be 
unkind or haughty to the meanest object in creation. The 
wheel of Time that rolls on ceaselessly with its flashing spokes 
of the three gunas, rhythm, action and inertia, never reflected 

175 its varying motions in his heart, which ever remained qalm, 
serene and pure. Meek and patient even as Mother Earth, 
Rama was the dearest object to the three worlds, so 
bright shone he in his excellences. Profoundly wise as 
Bnhaspati, valiant as Indra, he drew to himself the hearts 

180 of his people and of king Dasaratha from whose loins he 
sprung. The glory of his perfections illumined the utmost 
corners of the world, even as the countless rays of the noon- 
day sun. Steadfast in his resolve to protect those that took 
refuge in him, of unfailing might and valour, happy in the 

185 possession of every thing that the heart could desire, he oc- 
cupied the foremost place in the thoughts of the people, 
who eagerly looked forward to the day when he would reign 
over them. 

Dasaratha, the terror of his foes, looked with a fond 

190 eye on the darling of his heart, and said to himself, " Long 
beyond mortal count have been my days upon earth, and I 
have drunk the cup of life even to the lees. What should 
I desire now more than to see my beloved Rama, of match- 
less excellence, reign in my stead ? May the winged hours 

195 haste forward the day when I would see the brows of my 
Rama encircled with the crown of the Ikshvakus. For, he 
is ever intent upon making the rich men of my kingdom 
richer ; he is ready to help and upraise those whom the 
" slings and arrows of outrageous " Fortune have struck low. 

200 My people love him more than myself, even as the welcome 
clouds that pour their cool waters over the parched lips of 


the burning earth. Like unto Yama, the god of Death and 
Indra, the ruler of the Shining Ones in might ; like unto 
Brihaspati in knowledge and wisdom ; strong of heart and 
unshaken even as the Himalaya, it is but meet that he stands 205 
high above myself in worth and in the people's esteem. 
It behoves me to close my long life by giving myself the 
pleasure to see my son crowned as king ; and then I might, 
with a contented heart, take my pl^ce in the Mansions of 
the Blessed. " 210 

He next took counsel with his ministers and advisers, 
who were loud in their praises of Rama as the living em- 
bodiment of countless excellences rare in other kings ; and 
he decided to resign his kingdom in favour of his eldest son. 
He urged upon his counsellors the necessity of hastening 215 
the happy day. The snows of age weighed very heavy upon 
him, and ominous protents in the heavens, in the middle 
world and on earth warned him of coming calamity and mis- 
hap. His subjects, and himself more than they, lived in the 
light of Rama's presence and forgot their griefs and sorrows 220 
therein; verily the moment was approaching when the world 
was to enter upon a new era of peace and prosperity ; all 
the more reason why he should be quick in bringing it 
about. Fleet messengers were dispatched in hot haste to 
invite the kings under him, the leaders of men in town 223 
and village, his friends near and far, as well as those who 
ever had his welfare at heart. No word did he send to the 
king of the Kekayas or to Janaka ; they lived far away and 
might ao well hear the happy news later on, They readi- 
ly responded to his invitation and were right royally enter- 230 
tained as became their rank and worth. Like Brahma, the 
Ancient, in his high world, king Dasaratha sat on his royal 
throne in all his pomp and splendour and gave audience 
to those who waited to pay him their respects. They 
entered the vast hall and ranged themselves therein 235 


according to the rules of precedence. All eyes 
were respectfully turned upon Dasaratha kings, citizens, 
provincials and friends, who stood high in the love and 
esteem of the aged monarch and now encircled him as 
240 the high gods press round their king Indra. 



>HEN king Dasaratha addressed himself to his expect- 
ant audience, riveted their attention upon himself and 
5 spoke to them, in accents clear, of that which conduced to 
their welfare and joy. His sonorous voice filled the spacious 
hall even as the war-drum or the thunderclouds and was 
given back in mighty echoes ; it was inimitably sweet to the 
ear and richly redolent with kingly graciousness. " Kings, 

10 friends, my people ! None know better than yourselves 
how Ikshwaku, Raghu and other ancestors of mine, of 
glorious memory, watched over this empire of Kosala 
even as it were the darling of their hearts. Unworthy 
descendant of such a brilliant line, it is in my heart 

15 to confer upon my people and kingdom yet greater 
happiness and prosperity; for, none deserve it more. May 
I be allowed to believe that I have tried my level best 
to discharge my duty towards you, treading upon the intri- 
cate paths of kingly polity with unsleeping care and with a 

20 strict eye to the traditions of my race. But, years past 
count lie heavy upon me and I am now grown grey, even 
as yon snow-white royal umbrella under the shade of which 
I have been watching over your welfare. Unlike king 
Yayati, I have put away from me all hankering after the 

25 pleasures of happy youth and active life. It is but meet 

II] VOX POfULi 11 

and just that I give a little rest to this body of mine that 
has served me so faithfully and so well for sixty thousand 
years, ere I lay it down. My broad shoulders have borne 
for unnumbered centuries this mighty burden of state and 
cannot but be weaned beyond words. For, it is no 30 
light task, even for the young and temperate, who^are 
richly dowered witlhjsnergy, valor and tact; it is beyond 
the dreams of such as are not stern masters of_their senses 
and allow them to lead their^ steps astray; it requires varied 
kinds of accomplishments and means. For a very long time 35 
I have borne this huge orb of state and its attendant cares 
of guiding aright the feet of the millions under me upon the 
narrow path of Dharma and I must be allowed a respite. If 
the saintly Brahmanas here, my friends and my people give 
their unqualified assent to my proposal, I mean to place ray 40 
son in charge of the kingdom and enjoy a short period of 
quiet. Rama, my first-born, whom I have fixed upon to 
take my place as heir- apparent, has the valor of Indra and 
his skill, and before him fall, like ripened head of corn, the 
foemen's cities and their pride. He takes after me in all 45 
goodly graces and excellences ; he is the foremost champion 
of Right ; he is the prince of men for power and might. 
Radiant beyond compare, even as the full-orbed moon in his 
glorious mansion of the constellation Pushya, I have set my 
heart upon crowning him as heir-apparent on the auspicious 50 
day when the moon is in conjunction with Pushya. Of 
boundless glory, Rama, the elder brother of Lakshmana, is, 
I ween, a worthy lord of this my kingdom, and of you my 
faithful subjects. The three worlds will rejoice in peace 
and prosperity under the shadow of his mighty arm. Grant 55 
me to make him your ruler ; grant me to make over to him 
this weighty crown and its attendant responsibilities ; it 
will be the dawn of a happy era for the earth and my 
heart will grow young with joy indescribable. I pray you 


60 give your well-thought consent to it only if it seems to you 
that I have formed this plan after mature deliberation, only if 
the act would be crowned with happy success. But, should 
it seem to you otheiwise, pray advise me the wiser course. 
It may be that this seems right in my eyes ; but, I am sure 
65 that greater good will come of it if I take counsel with you, 
who are moved solely by considerations of the common 
weal," The princes assembled heard him out in wrapt 
attention and answered back in glad acclaim, as the gay 
peacocks rejoice at the welcome sound of surcharged 
70 clouds, The vast crowd lifted its voice in mighty 
applause, the echoes of which shook the huge dome of the 
audience hall to its very base. 

Then, Maharshi Vasishtha and the holy Brahmanas, 
the invited kings and princes, citizens and provincials 
75 took deep counsel each with himself, and then together ; 
a keen observation of the time, the place, the face and 
the features of the king convinced them that he regarded 
it as an act of duty to nominate the heir-apparent in his 
life-time. And with one accord they gave answer to 
80 Dasaratha, " Lord of men ! Long years have you reigned 
over us in glory and have grown grey in >ears in con- 
sequence. So, we pray that you mstal your eldest son 
Rama as the heir apparent. Doubt not that we are well 
aware of your care and solicitude for the welfare of this 
85 kingdom, even when long centuries have rolled over you. 
But, our eyes yearn to be blessed with the sight of Rama 
riding along in royal pomp on the huge state-elephant, while 
the royal white umbrella comes, all enviously, now and then 
between us and the glory of his countenance. We 
90 can but pray to you and it rests with you make it fruitful.'' 
Dasaratha feigned not to catch the drift of their appeal 
and said " Kings and people ! I do not really see how you 
can desire to have Rama as your lord and ruler, when you 


yourself bear grateful testimony to my able and watchful 
care over you. I pray you tell me the truth of it." 95 

Then, the people all made ready reply, prince and 
peasant, high and low. " Blame us not in that we find in 
Rama, your son, rare and matchless perfections Hear us 
expatiate, though all unworthy, upon the countless graces of 
body and mind of Rama, the idol of our hearts, like unto 100 
the high gods, and trained in the ways of righteousness by 
eminent men. Joy unspeakable and affectionate love well up 
in the hearts of those that speak of it, of those that listen 
to it, of those that contemplate it In him valiant might is 
ever fruitful ; the lord of the Celestials claims not higher 105 
attributes; he towers aloft over the kings of the royal line of 
Ikshvaku ; that best of men is ever intent on Truth and 
Law. From him flow unasked Dharma and Wealth, the 
fruit thereof Of happy presence, the bright lord of Night 
delights not your subjects more ; of sweet patience even as 110 
Mother Earth, he vies with Bnhaspati in keen intellect and 
with Mahendra, the lord of Sachi. in valor ; he has sounded 
the depths of Duty, general and particular ; of unfailing re- 
solve, yet his greatness offers no bar to sincere and intimate 
converse with lower grades of intellect ; he has put away 115 
from himself envy, that causelessly sees in other faults 
that are not. The defects of those that seek refuge m 
him have no power to ruffle his forbearing spirit ; he ever 
labours to conciliate the anger and soothe the grief of those 
that chance to offend him Gentle and kind of speech, he 120 
ever magnifies the paltry benefits conferred upon him by 
others; innocent of the ways of the wicked, his heart can 
never bear to be away from those that depend upon him; dire 
adversity and distress have no power to prevent the fulfil- 
ment of his promises to others ; evei at the disposal of his 125 
friends and dependents, the arrows of envy fall away from 
him blunt and broken. He has ever a sweet word and kind 


to all, but keeps within the strict bounds of truth. The 
Brahmanas grown grey in years, wisdom and saintlmess, are 

130 the objects of his veneration ; hence, unbounded generosity, 
valor and irresistable might do but widen immeasurably his 
full-orbed fame. He is an adept in the mysteries of all 
the weapons and astras known to men, gods and asuras. He 
has sat at the feet of his revered Guru to study the Vedas 

135 and the Vedanta, has kept the prescribed vows and has gone 
through the closing rite of Samavartana, He is an expert 
musician, in that it assists him in the chanting of Samans. 
Pure and stainless is his high ancestry and he outshines it in 
his own purity The wheel of Time has nothing to bring up 

140 that could shake his iron fortitude ; hence Ins intellect and 
genius are of a very rare order. Wise Brahmanas have had 
the charge of guiding his steps on the intricate paths of 
Duty and Right, teachers famed for spotless lineage, pro- 
found learning, lowliness of heart, and marvellous power of 

145 expounding the Soul-doctrine of the Law. He never returns 
from his frequent expeditions against the foemen's armies, 
towns or citadels, but is aye crowned with victory, he and 
his shadow Lakshmana. His military duties over, he comes 
back to the capital on horse or elephant, chariot or palan- 

150 qum and fails not to make paternal enquiries about the 
welfare of the citizens, deep and searching. ' Dear sirs, ! Is 
it all well with you, your wives, your children and pupils ? 
Are the Holy Fires receiving due attention and worship ? 
Your servants and pupils are, I believe, regular and assiduous 

155 in their services to you/ None among his people, rich or 
poor, high or low, is touched with any grief or sorrow, but 
our Rama is by his side to help or soothe him. He never 
forgives himself for it nor forgets ; ' for,' says he ' mine the 
blame, mine the fault, since they are my charge.' Alike, he 

160 rejoices in the joy of his people, sincere and whole-hearted 
even as their very father. 


The darkest hours of adversity have never been able 
to dim the spotless mirror of his truthful soul. The 
foremost bowman of any age, past or present, he 
is ever the humble servant of the Elders, with restrained 165 
senses and smiling speech. The fierce waves of misfortune 
do but play about his feet firmly planted on the Rock of 
Duty. He enters with heart and soul into everything he 
desires for the people's welfare. He is ever known to turn 
away from the light talk and social inanities that good men 1 70 
condemn heartily. Brihaspati has not such a wealth oi 
ready wit and quick repartee. His beautifully arched 
brows do but heighten by contrast the loveliness of his large 
star-like eyes. We take him more as Maha Vishnu 
come down in mortal guise among His dear children. 175 
Death has no terrors for him, not the slightest calm and 
self-possessed, he causes his foes to flee before him, mad 
Terror at their heels ; his fiery energy and valor finds him 
ever the first to pierce into the intricate battle-arrays of his 
foes and to scatter them betore him like chaff, be they the 180 
foremost of gods or asuras. None knows better than he the 
deep mysteries of kingly polity and the surest way to com- 
pass the happiness and weal* of his subjects. The joys of 
sensual life have never any attraction for him. The govern- 
ance of the three worlds would but barely occupy a portion 185 
of his time and attention ; why speak of this paltry globe ? 

His wrath or favor was never known to be fruitless, 
The guilty ever found his hand heavy upon them ; but the 
innocent never came in for a share of his displeasure. One 
has but to find favor in his eyes, to have his heart's wishes 190 
fulfilled to the uttermost, Unruffled patience and other 
countless excellences that claim the applause and love of 
the people, shed a halo of glory round him, even as the noon 
day Sun crowned witl\ his fiery rays. Nay, dear lord, we 
are convinced that he is sent down on earth by the Giver 195 


of good to be your son and confer upon you untold happi- 
ness, even as the Almighty deigned to bless Mareechi with 
his boy Kasyapa. Gods and Asuras, Gandharvas and Uragas, 
kings and sages, citizens and provincials, your people and 

200 strangers, ever lift their hands and hearts in devout prayer 
to the Causeless Cause that Rama's days on earth might 
never grow less and that fame and goodly life, health and 
strength, might ever wait upon him. Stately matrons, light 
hearted girls, and dames staggering under the burden of their 

205 years, ever offer devout and careful worship to every god, 
high and low, morn, noon and dewy eve, that their dar- 
ling Rama may be crowned as heir-apparent. Lord of us all ! 
it behoves you to fulfil the dearest wishes ot their hearts, to 
grant the earnest prayer of their souls. Our eyes do hunger 

210 for the hour when they can feast upon the sight 
of Rama enthroned as king in your place Rama the best 
and brightest of your sons, Rama of dark hue, even as 
the petals of the blue Utpala, Rama, the terror of his foes. 
None have been known to seek you in vain /hence our 

215 earnest prayer that you crown your long and glorious reign 
with an act of supreme grace to us, by placing over this realm 
Rama, like unto the Lord of the universe, ever intent on the 
common weal and the centre of all that is good and great. 
And let not envious Time come between us and the reali- 

220 sation of our hopes." 



I ASARATHA heard them out joyfully, as they prayed 

to him with joined palms above their heads, He 

5 honor'd them duly with a look or a word or a smile and said, 


11 My children ! It ^gives me boundless delight to hear your 
unanimous wish to see my eldest son Rama crowned as 
heir-apparent. My greatness and glory have been enhanced 
thereby.' 1 His sweet and thoughtful reply filled their 
hearts with the wildest joy. He next turned to Vasishtha 10 
and Vamadeva and said " This month of Chitra is the 
first and best of its kind. All trees put on their gayest and 
happiest garb now. The month in which Rama saw the 
light is come round, by happy coincidence, to witness his 
installation. Hence, I pray you to see to the necessary 15 

Now that the assembled multitude were sure of their 
long-chenshed hopes being amply realized and speedily, 
shouts of joy rent the welkin and calmed down after a time. 
Then, Vasishtha the wise, proud of the glorious task 20 
.entrusted to him, addressed himself to Sumantra and 
his colleagues who stood before him in respectful salutation, 
and said " Gold, gems, grain, pulse, medicinal plants, 
garlands of white flowers, fried grain, honey, clarified butter, 
new cloths, chariot, weapons of all kinds, our troops, men, 25 
horse, elephants and chariots, elephants with auspicious 
marks, a white chamara, flags, a snow-white umbrella, a 
hundred vessels of gold bright as blazing fire, a bull with 
gold-tipped horns, a tigerskin all whole, sandal paste, 
flowers and other necessaries should be ready stored 30 
by dawn in the royal sacrificial chamber. See that 
thousands of saintly Brahmanas are then given with all 
respect and reverence, food, milk, curds, condiments, 
ghee, fried grain and ample presents of coin. Remind the 
Brahmanas deputed to the work that they should begin to 35 
chant the benedictive hymns and let them be pro- 
vided with suitable seats. See that the houses look gay 
Mth flags ; let the royal roads be well-watered. Let 
tfancers in bright array be stationed in the second block 


40 of the palace and with them their instructors and skilled 
musicians. Appoint Brahmanas to be present at the holy 
fanes and cross-roads to pay heedful worship to the gods 
with food, sweets and garlands ; let chosen warriors in war- 
like f guise range themselves in the coronation hall with 

45 their long bright swords girt bravely on their thighs." The 
sages twain directed them further to enlist the necessary 
servants and retainers and completed the arrangements for 
the auspicious ceremony. They came to the king in joyful 
mood and said, "Your Majesty's orders have been execu- 

50 ted." 

Then, Dasaratha, of bright presence, called Sumantra to 
him and said, " Go, bring me on the wings of speed, Rama, 
my darling boy of spotless virtue ; " and the aged minister 
hastened upon his happy mission. 

55 Kings of realms, north and south, east and west, chiefs 

of the non-Aryan races, dwellers of the dark forests and 
lofty mountains ranged themselves round the old monarch, 
even as the radiant Gods press round their glorious leader. 
The mighty emperor, girt by them, as Indra by the' hier- 

60 archy of Maruts, glanced down at the royal road and saw his 
boy coming up on his chariot. His eyes would never have 
enough of feasting themselves upon the lovely vision. 
Supremely handsome, even as the king of the Gandharvas, 
yet was Rama the very ideal of valor ; with long and sinewy 

65 arms, his exquisitely modelled frame masked an immen- 
sity of strength ; of lordly gait even as the maddened 
elephant in rut, his face was sweet to look at and charmed 
the hearts of the beholders, even as the full-orbed Queen of 
night ; and people felt that they could gaze their lives away. 

70 His beauty, large-heartedness, and other noble attributes 
enslaved the looks and the hearts of even the members of 
his sex. Creatures, whose bodies and brains have been 
parched and broiled by the merciless rays of the summer 


sun, cannot gaze too often at the black clouds that lead 
to them the welcome showers ; even so did Dasaratha 75 
gaze and yet gaze on the dream of loveliness that grew 
upon his vision. Meanwhile the prince's chariot stopped at 
the royal gates, and Sumantra offered his arm to Rama 
as he got down, and followed him with folded palms 
in all reverence, as he took his way to where his 80 
royal sire awaited him. He ascended the steps leading to 
the lofty hall above, that reminded one of the Kailasa peak, 
approached the king with joined hands of reverence and 
offered him due salutation, announcing his own name 
and lineage. Dasaratha drew, with loving haste, his god-like 85 
son towards himself, embraced him warmly, and saw him 
seated high on a gemmed throne by his side. The 
splendour of his presence irradiated the vast hall, even as 
the golden mount Meru crowned with the bright rays of the 
rising sun, even as the star-bespangled firmament with the 90 
pure cool rays of the antumn moon. The heart of the 
aged king knew no bounds to its joy as he fondly gazed at 
his sonf, even as at the reflection of his own stately person 
in a burnished mirror. 

Dasaratha, the happiest of fathers, turned to his boy 95 
with a smile and said, " Rama, my darling son ! Your rare 
excellences constitute you the brightest ornament of our 
race. You are born to me of a lady in every way worthy of 
myself. My subjects are supremely pleased with your noble 
qualities and I intend to make you the ruler of this realm to- 100 
morrow, when the moon is in auspicious conjunction with 
the asterism Pushya. You are richly dowered by nature 
with countless perfections of body, mind and heart. You 
ever reverence the good and the great. Yet, a fond father's 
heart would seek to give you further counsel. I would 105 
have you yet more humble and modest, yet more self- 
restrained. Put away from you the seven kinds of royal 


faults that spring of Desire and Hate, Govern your minis- 
ters and officials directly and the others through them ; 

110 fail not to give audience every day and possess yourself of 
everything that you can gather from direct observa- 
tion, even as you are every moment aware of the doings 
of your foes through your eyes and ears your spies and 
residents. Increase ever your stores of coin, gold and 

115 silver, gems, grain, warlike appliances and weapons, until 
your people come to place implicit and entire confidence 
in you and exclaim out of a full heart ( Blessed are we 
above compare in that we have such a king over us 1 , 
even as the shining Ones rejoiced at the sight of 

120 the Waters of Immortality. So keep your senses and mind 
under perfect control and act as I woald have you." 

Thus spake Dasaratha, with the authority of years and 
experience, even as the Patriarch Kasyapa advises the Ruler 
of the Heavens. * Friends and companions of Rama strove 

1 25 who should be the first to take the glad tidings to Kausalya, 
the happy mother. And the noble queen loaded the welcome 
messengers with gifts of gold and gems, kine and horses* 
Rama bowed low in reverent obeisance to his sire, who 
accorded him reluctant permission to depart and rode back 

130 to his splendid palace through the dense crowds that 
strove to do him honor. 

The vast concourse of citizens that filled the hall felt 
their hearts bound with joy, as if their long-cherished hopes 
were unexpectedly realized ; they took respectful leave of 

135 their monarch and hied back to their houses and were busy 
offering devout prayers to then favorite deities that the 
coronation of their beloved Rama should come off without 
a hitch." 




|HE conscientious monarch again took deep counsel 
with his ministers and friends and finally dicided to 
crown lotus-eyed Rama as heir-apparent, the next day 5 
when the moon should ride in conjunction with Pushya. 
He returned to his apartments and said to Sumantra " Go, 
bring unto me once again Rama, my heart's delight/' 

The aged minister was at the gates of Rama's palace 
in no time. The wardens apprised the prince of his arrival, 10 
who was troubled with a doubt. " How now ? Has any 
thing come between my sire and his resolve ? " Yet he 
called Sumantra to him and said <( Pray let me know 
clearly what brings you here again." And to him spake 
Sumantra " Rama ! your father desires to see you again. I 15 
am but the humble mouth-piece of his Majesty and you 
know best how to act." The words of the minister but has- 
tened Rama's steps towards his father's palace, which he 
entered with an expectant heart. 

The wardens ran to announce him to the king, who 20 
ordered the prince to be brought to him at once, that he 
might communicate to him excellent and pleasant tidings, 
Rama entered and saluted the monarch with deep respect, 
even when at a distance. Dasaratha sprang to meet him 
with open arms, gave him a magnificient seat and said 25 
" Rama ! excuse my telling you that I am grown very old 
in years and experience. I have drained the cup of life 
to the full. Countless sacrifices have I performed and 
stinted not in food or com, kme or gems, even as the Books 
lay it down. I have had the pleasure of giving away untold 30 
wealth to my kith and km, friends and dependents. I 
have tasted of the sterner joys of a warrior's life in all their 


varieties; I am clear of my debts to the Gods, to the Rishis, to 
the Pitns, to the Brahmanas and to myself through countless 

35 sacrificial rites, religious studies, begetting of offspnng,costly 
gifts and enjoyment of the pleasures of life respectively. I 
have now a worthy son unto me and unequalled in the three 
worlds. My last duty to myself and to my expectant subjects 
is but the pleasant one of handing over the charge of this 

40 kingdom to you. So, pay good heed to what I say and 
having heard, obey. Again, all my subjects pray to me that 
Rama should be lord over them ; that is another reason 
why I should crown you king. Further, my sleep is troubled 
with ominous dreams of coming evil ; terrific meteors fall 

45 from the cloudless skies accompanied by destructive thunder 
bolts. The sun, Mais, Rahu and other maleficient planets 
do aspect my natal star, so say the wise in starry lore. It 
is evident that these are the forerunners of the death of 
kings or of parallel disasters ; that again is an additional 

50 reason for my crowning you with all despatch, Moreover, 
men's minds do change ever; and before mine comes under 
the seductive influence of my other queens, I wish to place 
the crown on your head. The moon stays today with the 
star Punarvasu and leaves it to-morrow for Pushya, which 

55 astrological experts declare to be most auspicious for a 
king's coronation ; hence my desire to lose no time. I am 
resolved to carry out my plan to-morrow at any cost t 
It is meet that you and Seeta spend this night in fast and 
devout prayer on a couch of sacred grass. It is in the order 

60 of things that numerous obstacles would start in the path 
of such good resolves ; so, take good care that your friends 
and well-wishers guard you against any harm or evil, within " 
or without. Bharata, your brother, is a paragon of goodly con- 
duct; your word is a law unto him; his iron will and chasten- 

65 ed spirit keeps his senses under perfect control; he is the soul 
of compassion ; but, it is a long time since he left this place 


for his uncle's country. None can call himself sojrighteous. 
or good orjSrm of resolve buMFWj^ 

So, it behoves us to accomplish our pur- 

pose ere Bharata comes back here," Having thus opened his 70 
heart to his son in the privacy of his apartments, he gave 
him permission to return to his palace. 

Rama lost not a moment in repairing to the mansion 
of his mother Kausalyato acquaint her with the glad news. 
He found her in the hall of worship, dressed in white 75 
silk, pure, silent and restrained of breath ; the news of 
Rama's coronation the next day filled her with wild joy, and 
she was earnestly praying with introspective eyes to Maha 
Vishnu, her favorite deity, that Rama should succeed his 
father on the throne. Sumitra, Lakshmana and Seeta had 80 
been sent for before and were with her. Rama saluted his 
mother with all humility and said, " It would give you 
pleasure to know that my father has intimated to me his 
pleasure to crown me to-morrow as the heir-apparent and 
place me over the people. The priests and the chaplains 35 
heard him direct me and Seeta here to spend this night in 
fast and prayer. I pray you to instruct us as to the vows 
we should keep towards my consecration to-morrow." 

The words fell sweetly on the long-expectant ears of 
Kausalya j tears of ]oy shook her voice as she replied, QQ 
1( Darling Rama I May your days upon earth continue ever, 
May confusion dire wait on your foes. Rule over us and re- 
joice the hearts of the kith and km of myself and of my sister 
Sumitra here. It was a wondrous moment when you saw 
the light ; for, are you rot the joy of your father's heart 95 
through your good gifts ? Long did I pray and earnestly to 
Mahavishnu ; and my prayers, my vows, my fasts and mor- 
tifications have borne ample fruit, in that the bright crown 
of the Ikshwakus rests on your fair brows. Glad am I beyond 
expression" jOO 


Rama turned to his brother at his side and said to him 
who raised folded palms of reverence to his head, " Laksh- 
mana! Brother mine! This kingdom, its pomp and power are 
more for you, my other self. You will have a very busy 
time of it, I ween, in ruling over the countless myriads of 
our subjects, Sumitra's happy son ! I hope to see you glad- 
den your mother's heart and taste the sweets of regal power, 
gold and gems, dress and jewels, pomp and dignity. Need I 
assure you that this empire and everything it can give, nay, 
my very life, is dear to me and welcome but for your sake ?' 

Thereafter, Rama and Seeta took reverent leave of 
their elders and received permission to retire to their abode. 



i ASARATHA next sought saint Vasishtha and said to 
him with a bow, " May it please your Reverence to 
5 go to Rama and see that he and his wife observe the fasts 
and vows that might ensure him wealth, health and a happy 

"I go, your majesty" replied Vasishtha and the 
sage, than whom stood none higher in the knowledge of 
10 vows, fasts, penances and potent spells, betook himself to 
Rama's palace upon a stately chariot. His priestly car he 
drove through three vast blocks of the mansion, even as 
dazzling lightning flashes through pale clouds. Rama heard 
him coming and approached him in all reverent haste, 
] 5 He lent his arm to aid Vasishtha to descend from his 
chariot, and touched his holy teet with his head. Vasishtha 
enquired after him kindly and said, " Rama ! you have found 
high favour in your father's eyes and in consequence, he in. 
tends to place you over this realm to-morrow, even as Nahu- 


sha installed Yayati, his son. Hence, it behoves you and your 
wife to spend the night in fast and meditation. 1 ' He next 
ordained the fast and prayer by rule and text and took leave 
of the prince, with courteous honors gratified. 

Rama remained yet a while in sweet converse 
with his friends who ever had a pleasant word for him ; then 
he bade them good-bye and retired to his apartments. He 
found them gay and bright with men and maids happily busy 
with the preparations for the morrow, even as some 
beautiful lotus lake studded with flowers that open their 
hearts to the rays of the rising sun, while gem-like birds of 
varied plume light above them with unsteady gait, mad- 
dened with frequent draughts of honey. 

Meanwhile Vasishtha rode out from Rama's palace 
through the royal streets teeming with happy crowds in busy 
converse. The gentle breeze wafted the welcome sound to 
distant ears even as the muffled roar of the ocean-wave 
falling on drowsy ears. The town wore a gay look that 
night ; streets and by-ways were swept and cleaned and 
watered. The houses were decked with flags and banners 
that nodded, as it were, gentle welcome to one another. The 
gates were hid beneath clusters of plantains, mango leaves 
anct palm fruits. Men, women and boys, rich and poor, 
high and low, waited expectant for the happy dawn that 
was to bring round the hour when they would rejoice in the 
sight of their beloved Rama crowned as king. Vasishtha 
took his way leisurely through the gay crowds, even as a 
mighty lord of the deep cleaving his way amid mountain 
billows. He passed up the stairs to where sat the expec- 
tant monarch, even as a bright denizen of the skies in his 
cloud-chariot. The whole audience rose as one man to 
accord reverend welcome to the saint, even as gods and 
angels lift their hands and hearts in awe and reverence to 
Brihaspati, the divine priest and counsellor, " Has Rama 


been duly instructed in his holy task for the night" 
55 queried the fond king ; to which the sage made reply, 
11 Yea, my leige, even as you desired." 

The king craved permission of his chaplain to retire 
for the night; he dismissed his audience and sought the pri- 
vacy of his apartments, even as the monarch of the forest 
60 seeks his rocky lair. His presence illumined the happy 
halls, more splendid by far than the abode of the Lord of the 
Heavens and flashing bright with gemmed robes and gem- 
like eyes, even as the star-lit firmament suffused with the 
rising splendours of the Queen of night. 



AMA followed the instructions of the saint to the 
letter. With a pure body and a purer mind, the 
5 happy pair offered lowly worship unto the Lord of Eternity. 
Rama raised the- vessel of consecrated food and clarified 
butter high above his head ; offered it unto the blazing 
Lord of Fire with holy mantras ; partook of what remained, 
chanting an inward prayer for happiness and peace ; washed 
10 his lips with holy water ; and with tranquil mind and 
restrained senses, sought repose and Seeta with him, on 
the bed of sacred grass spread in the presence of the Deity 
of his heart. 

He awoke in the last watch of the night and directed 

J5 the decorations of his house against the morrow's solemn 

ceremony, while glad strains of joy and praise were 

borne to his ears from the bards and panegyrists gathered to 

wake him to the day's duties. He took his bath and offered 

devout prayer to the Goddess of the morning twilight and 

20 recited the sacred Gayatri with concentrated faculties. He 


clad himself in robes of pure white and bowed low in rever- 
ence to the Lord of all, while Brahmanas raided their voices 
in mighty benediction. The holy strains announced the 
auspicious day of coronation to the assembled myriads over 
the capital, while gay and festive music kept sweet accom- 25 
paniment thereto. 

The people rejoiced to hear that Rama and Seeta 
spent the night in fast and devotion to prepare them for 
the rite of consecration on the morrow. The dawn saw them 
busy with the decorations of the happy town. Gay flags 30 
and lofty pennons rose high above the stately fanes of the 
Gods, towering aloft like fleecy clouds ; over the domes that 
acjorned the cross-ways ; over the shrines of Buddha ; over 
the turrets that crowned the impregnable fortifications ; 
over the merchants' shops, rich with products of nature and 35 
art ; over the wealthy mansions of the nobles ; over public 
halls and lofty trees. Professors of the art of song and dance 
grouped themselves everywhere, discoursing sweet music 
that enthralled the senses of the listeners. As the hour 
drew near for the solemn function, men and women 40 
gathered in the houses, the streets and the squares to 
exchange news of the happy event. Bands of bright 
children would talk of nothing else as they played with 
careless glee before their houses. The royal roads were 
strewn with gay flowers and redolent with rich perfumes 45 
and sweet odours. The streets were covered with costly 
hangings of silk and gold, from which descended many a 
cluster of palm and areca. Lofty posts were erected at 
regular intervals to bear the lights that would dispel the 
growing gloom within. Thus, nature and art combined to 50 
make the city as gay and bright as possible. The assembled 
myriads waited expectant in houses and squares saying, 
" Dasaratha, of the line of Ikshwafcu, has wisely realized his 
growing infirmities and has decided, in time, to crown his 


55 son Rama in his place. The great Gods are merciful to us in 
that we are to have Rama as our ruler, He has an 
intimate knowledge of the varying grades of life, high and 
low ; ever humble, wise and righteous, he lives but for his 
brothers ; and we anchor our hopes therein that he will 

60 watch over our welfare with more than brotherly interest, 
for unnumbered years to come. Long live king Dasaratha 
and happy, in that his righteous resolve has enabled us to be 
the glad witnesses of the coronation of Rama." Thus they 
lauded high the aged monarch ; and the sound of their 

" voices rose above the town like the roar of the angry sea 
when the moon calls out to her at night. Nay, Ayodhya, 
fair as the lordly capital of Indra, was the sea ; the countless 
millions that thronged therein from all quarters of the globe 
to witness Rama's installation were the denizens of the 

70 deep ; and it was their voice and of the waves that rose on 
the night-air. 



&ONE knew where she came from, nor of whom ; she 
came along with the queen Kaikeyi when she rode 
5 into happy Ayodhya as the fond bride of the aged Dasaratha. 
She stood like a bird of evil omen in the balcony of the 
moon-white mansion of Kaikeyi and cast an idle glance on 
the busy town below her. The roads were neatly swept, 
well-watered and gaily decked. Bright flags and proud 
10 bannerets crowned the houses. The city walls had been 
pierced with fresh gates for the easy passage of the joyful 
crowds that would throng the town to partake of the 
festivities. The people were fresh from their bath, clean- 
looking and cheerful. Rama's palace gates were crowded 


with Brahmanas chanting holy hymns, with their humble 15 
tribute of garlands and sweets to their well-beloved prince. 
Strains of sweet music rose from every quarter. Groups 
of happy men and women filled the streets with 
their bright presence and brighter talk ; even the horses 
and elephants, cows and bulls rejoined loudly in expectation 20 
of the happy event. The lofty gates of holy shrines 
glittered white m the soft moonlight. And Manthara, of 
dark heart, marvelled much at the sight. 

She turned to a girl that stood near clad in spot- 
less white, gazing with open-eyed amaze and pleasure ^5 
at the lovely scenes that presented themselves to her view. 
" Friend ! can you tell me why Kausalya is so free and 
lavish with her gold ? She was ever known to be close-fisted 
andgreedyof wealth. What mean these gay and happy crowds? 
What wonderful pageant, what new surprise, has our king 30 
for us?" The maid was glad to get some one with whom 
she could share her overwhelming joy and replied " King 
Dasaratha has decided to seat our darling Rama on the royal 
throne and that even to-rnorrow, when the star Pushya rules 
the day ; and it is no wonder that the people are beside 35 
themselves with joy ; for none deserve it more than Rama 
of sweet patience and spotless purity, whom the mighty 
Gods have crowned with rare perfections." The words 
roused black envy in the heart of the hunchback; and down 
from the terrace, lofty as Kailasa's peak, she sped on the 40 
wings of haste to where Kailkeyi slept. Wicked thoughts 
seethed in her brain while her heart was aflame with wrath. 
11 Sleep you, foolish one ! Awake, arise, for, dread Peril 
draws near you. Why see you not the dark clouds of 
misfortune right over your head ? You brag of your rare 45 
beauty and good fortune that have made you the heart's 
delight of your royal husband. But, too well I know that you 
have no place in his affections. His favour and your happy 


days are even now drawing to an end, like a mountain 

50 torrent drained by Summer's fierce heat/' 

These cruel words from the enraged heart of her hand- 
maid, whose fond interest masked her wicked wiles, cut to 
the heart the lovely queen. She gazed at Manthara in 
curious amaze and said " What ? This from you ! I fear some 

^ unseen evil has clouded your heart and brain. Your wan 
face argues a suffering heart. Speak free and it will go hard 
with me if I do not bring joy and solace back to you." 

But, the kindly words of Kaikeyi added fuel to the 
flame of wrath that burnt in the heart qfc the scheming 

60 Manthara. Her mistress cared not even to acquaint her- 
self with the news of Rama's coronation, with which the 
capital was ringing from end to end. Most eloquent for 
evil, she addressed herself to her diabolical task , she would 
make the very name ot Rama hateful in the eyes of Kaikeyi ; 

65 she would wring her heart with grief for her son, despoiled 
of his lawful crown ; she would see that she had no safer 
watcher of her interests. " Lady ! Know you not as yet that 
the foolish king will crown Rama as the ruler of thib vast 
empire and that a few hours hence. I know not what 

70 greater evil can befall you ; and it is hopeless to prevent it. 
You are the idol of my heart , my soul is plunged in the 
lowest depths of black sorrow ; I suffer the tortures of the 
damned, a prey to consuming flames. I flew to you oix the 
wings ot speed to save you from your fate, if possible. I live 

75 or die with you. My hopes and fears are bound up with yours. 
Daughter of a mighty king, wedded to a mightier monarch, 
yet how blind to the cruel laws that guide the acts of 
kings ! You are a sweet and gentle dove ensnare d by a cruel 
and cunning vulture. Your husband is ' a rogue in grain, 

80 veneered with sanctimonious hypocrisy.' His honeyed words 
conceal a cruel and remorseless heart. You see not that he 
has taken base advantage of your pure and guileless heart, 


He has cozened you with sweet talk of undying love and 
eternal fidelity, while his soul has been all the while busy 
plotting your ruin ; and now he has thrown off the mask 
and showers wealth and honor on his favorite queen 
Kausalya and her son. Ah, my queen! whose eyes fond love 
and foolish trust have blinded to the coming evil ! Am I to 
believe that you see not even now the black perfidy of yon 
smooth-tongued deceiver ? He has cunningly managed to ^ 
keep your son Bharaia far away and means to profit by his 
absence to give the crown to Rama ere the coming day draws 
to a close. Well can he do that and safely, in that there is 
none to stay him or say nay. Your husband but in name ; 
truth would call him your most relentless foe. Avoid him, ^ 
now at least, as you would the Bringer of death. A heed- 
less girl thou and all innocent, who clasps the glittering snake 
to her fond breast and fondles its cruel fangs, seeing not 
in it the fleet messenger of death. So have you placed your 
confiding soul in the keeping of your mortal enemy, who, to ^ 
you, is the kindest and best of husbands But, even you 
will be convinced ere long that Dasaratha will work cruel 
woe unto you and your son, deadlier by far than serpent's 
tooth enraged, more pitiless than your insulted foe. Ah, gentle 
heart, that was made for a life of happiness and pleasure ! ^5 
Dasaratha, the hoary sinner, has deluded you with soft and 
smooth phrases of love and devotion, only to crown Rama 
as king over this fair realm and send you, your son, your 
kith and kin to eternal perdition. Beware ere it is too late ; 
wake to your peril, now at least ; repose not in fancied secu- 
nty, but, put forth the might of your wondrous beauty and 
womanly wiles to enslave the heart of the foul deceiver ; and 
save from the brink of ruin your Bharata, yourself and me," 
Kaikeyi, who lay stretched at her ease, heard her out with 
a smile of amused pity ; but, the news of Rama's coronation 
thrilled her with unbounded joy ; her face reflected her 


heart, even as the beauteous autumn moon; she rose in joyous 
haste and glad surprise, for, her earnest prayers and long- 
cherished hopes had borne fruit ; she could not dream 

120 of a greater good fortune to herself and Bharata She 
threw a priceless necklace of flashing gems round the 
hunchback's neck as an earnest of her delight for the glad 
tidinigs she brought and said " None can rejoice more at 
Rama's coronation than I, his mother ; for, Rama and Bha- 

125 rata are the twin blossoms that grow from my heart. These 
are the sweetest words I have ever heard till now and I can- 
not reward you enough, the welcome bnnger thereof. 
Ask what you will of me, for, it is yours." 

Kaikeyi's innocent happiness and ready welcome but 

130 made the wicked Manthara more determined in her pur- 
pose of evil ; the Goddess of speech, Sarasvati, possessed 
her heart at the prayer of the Gods and swayed her to her 



SHE flung aside with an air of contempt the costly 
present of her mistress ; she really came to believe 
g that a great danger threatened Kaikeyi, and was wroth with 
her for being so obstinately insensible to her well-meant 
advice. " Dull-witted ! How is it you know not that the 
waves of calamity are even now closing over your head ? 
I cannot for the very life of me appreciate your ill-timed 
IQ raptures. The news of Rama's coronation is a death-blow 
to all our hopes ; and you rejoice where you should 
lament. But, I suffer with grief on your account. Nay, 
I am inclined to laugh every time I set my eyes on such 
an insane mistress. Rama is the son of your rival, is he 


not ? Then he is your Fate. The most stupid person would 15 
never derive any pleasure from hearing of the progress and 
prosperity of his deadliest enemy. I am deeply grieved to 
see your heart so perverted. 

Perhaps, you have no idea of the grave consequences 
in store for you. This crown belongs of right as much to 20 
Bharata as to Rama ; hence, your son is an object of fear 
and suspicion to him. The very thought fills me with des- 
pair. 'How can Ranfa's fear affect Bharata any way ?' Well, 
ferocious animals and venomous snakes suspect a man 
in anticipation and seek to kill him to save themselves 35 
from fancied danger Even so, Rama would naturally 
seek to ruin Bharata, to save himself from future dan- 
ger through him. ' But, this kingdom belongs to Laksh- 
man and Satrughna too ? ' Yes ; but Lakshmana, though 
mighty, is entirely devoted to Rama, body and soul ; and gQ 
Rama fears him not. Similarly, Bharata has nothing to tear 
from Satrughna. ' But, the younger princes, though devot- 
ed to their brothers would like to reign in their turn as 
well ? ' Well, Rama was born under the star Punarvasu ; 
he gets the crown first. Next comes Bharata born under 35 
Pushya ; next Lakshmana and last Satrughna. So, Rama 
will seek to make away with Bharata, who stands next to 
him. ' Rama is sure of coming to the throne first and need 
not entertain any doubt of Bharata's claims as a rival ?' Well, 
Rama is a deep one ; an expert in kingly polity ; knows when ^Q 
to act and how ; while your son Bharata is blissfully inno- 
cent of any such advantages. I tremble to think what he 
may suffer at the hands of Rama. 

Kausalya is at the zenith of her glory and power. The 
holy Brahmanas will seat him on the royal throne to-morrow, , 
when the bright star Pushya rains down its radiant influ- 
ence. Kausalya too will be crowned with wealth and fame 
and set her foot on the necks of her enemies ; and you, your 


son Bharata, your kith and km and we, your dependents 

50 should wait upon queen Kaikeyi in suppliant guise. It is 
Kausalya you should fear most. Bharata will take his place 
as the bond-man of Rama, the emperor. He will drag down 
along with him into the depths of sorrow and misery all 
that are near and dear to him ; while Rama's people, men 

55 and women, will rejoice in proportion." 

The lofty nobility of Kaikeyi was proof against the insi- 
dious poison of Manthara^s argument^ ; she thought to 
disarm the hunchback's malice towards Rama by dwelling 
at length on his manifold excellences. "Jfou are nght if 

60 Rama be all that you say ; but, I know well that not one of 
your aspersions lies at his door. Dharma has no mysteries 
for the open eye of Rama ; great men and good have had 
him under training. He is an ideal for all sons to follow ; 
and above all, he is Dasaratha's first-born ; and who more 

65 deserving of the crown than he ? 

Now let me show you how baseless your apprehensions 
are. It is no sound argument that this kingdom is the com- 
mon property of Rama and his brothers. 

Again, Rama (may his shadow never grow less) is a fond 

70 father to his brothers and dependents. It is madness pure to 

dream of evil to Bharata at the hands of Rama. I wonder 

why you are so much enraged and afflicted at the very news 

of Rama's coronation. 

Bharata will have his day and sit on the throne of his 
75 fathers when Rama has reigned over the happy Kosalas for 
full five score years, So, Bharata he is sure to instal as heir- 
apparent, even now. It is but as it should be. Bharata will 
come in for his own Now, all in good time I see no earthly 
reason why you should be so much afflicted. 
80 I heard you say that Rama's installation will work evil 

unto me. But, he is the darling of my heart ; and he waits 


upon me ever with love and reverence even greater than 
what he shows to Kausalyathat bore him. 

It matters little even if Bharata does not take his place 
on the throne after Rama has adorned it for a hundied 35 
years. It makes no difference whether Bharata gets the 
crown or Rama ; for, the virtuous prince looks upon his 
brothers as his very self " 

Kaikeyi's noble defence of Rama filled Manthara's soul 
with wilder fears and deeper sorrow.She sighed long and hot 90 
and replied, "Oh, jaundiced eye that sees good in evil! Your 
feeble intellect stands in the way of your realizing the deep 
and shoieless ocean of misery wherein you are sunk. Bha- 
rata cheated of his lawful rights and exiled from fair Kosa- 
la, alas, what a pitiful sight ! What wiseacre assured you 95 
that Bharata will succeed to the crown when Rama has 
worn it for a hundred years ? The rising sun will see Rama 
seated on the throne of the Ikshwakus and his son will sue- 
ceed him by right So, Bharata need never dream of the 
royal crown. You are quick enough to defend Rama and 100 
work yourself up into unseasonable wrath when a poor 
creature like myself tries honestly to open your eyes to the 
truth, Not all the sons of a king sit upon the father's throne ; 
if so, wild anarchy and tumult will wreck the kingdom. 
It is the eldest or the most deserving that is entrusted 105 
with the responsibilities of government. It is bad enough 
that Bharata is deprived of the crown ; but worse is 
in store for him. He will be eternally shut out from 
any chance of government. Fond mother ! your son 
will be driven from the kingdom; he will be hopelessly HO 
deprived of the power and the joys that are his by right of 
birth; he will wander over the earth like the meanest 
and most helpless of men. Perhaps Rama, the first boan, 
is an insuperable barrier in the way of Bharata's getting the 
throne now. But, would you hear of a way of circumvent- 115 


ing the evil ? Why, I am here for that very purpose and alas! 
you see it not. The unprecedented good fortune of your 
rival fills your heart with overwhelming joy and seeks to re- 
ward me with costly presents in token thereof. Rama but 

120 waits to get the throne untroubled by rival claims, to exile 
Bharata to distant lands; or he may send him out of this 
world. And you have nicely and loyally assisted him in the 
good work by sending Bharata to the distant home of his 
uncle! Trees, plants and such like senseless objects do twine 
themselves round what stand near them. Even so would 
Dasaratha be drawn to wards Bharata and S^trughna, were they 
with him; and it is you that took effectual measures to pre- 
vent it. Lakshmana ever shadows Rama ; nay, if Satrughna, 
the favourite of Bharata, were here at least, there is a chance 

130 that the old king may be reminded of his absent son ; and 
you have denied yourself that slender hope too. I have 
heard people say that some woodmen would fell a likely tree 
for fuel; but drew back at the sight of the thorny undergrowth 
that encircled it. So, Rama would shield Lakshmana and he 

135 m his turn would stand between Rama and danger. The 
celestial twins, the Aswinis, are not more attached to each 
other than they; and who knows it not? Lakshmana would 
never dream of evil to Rama; and Rama will ever seek the 
death of Bharala. Hence, it is better that your son flees to 

140 the distant forests from his uncle's country, For, Fate 
waits for him here. This seems to me good and for you 
too, Need I repeat that you and yours may enjoy wealth, 
power, fame and all delights that life can give, only if Bhara- 
ta's brows are encircled with the royal crown ? Forget not 

145 that he is the son of Kaikeyi, the hated rival of Kausalya ! 
Born to inherit the highest place in the world and enjoy 
the sweetest comforts, how could the guileless boy hope to 
live, shorn of the crown that is his by every right and in the 
relentless grip of Rama in the flush of his wildest hopes 


fulfilled? The lordly elephant, hunted by the dread monarch 150 
of the forest and at last under hn merciless fangs, is a 
happier object. Now is your chance, if you would save your 
son from the clutches of his inexorable foe. 

In the pride of your beauty and of your unbounded 
sway over the old monarch's heart, you have put slights in- 155 
numerable upon Kausalya You have trampled upon her 
heart; you have lacerated her feelings ; and who but a fool 
will wonder if she wreaks dire vengeance upon you and 
yours, now that her son is resistless ruler over countless 
millions? I have spoken enough. The shouts of a nation's 160 
joy that crown Rama as the happy monarch of this broad 
and fair earth, its towns, its mountains, its forests and the 
seas that gird it round, those very shouts are the death-knell 
of your joys and hopes, pride and power ; and your 
son falls with you. The sun that rises to see Rama seated 165 
on Dasaratha's throne rises also on the last day of Bharata's 
life on earth. Devise some means whereby you could seat 
your Bharata on his father's throne and immure your mor- 
tal enemy Rama in the dark depths of distant forests " 



one knew better the peerless qualities that adorned 
Rama ; yet the high Gods, ever mindful of their inte- 
rests, cast a veil over her eyes and she drank the words of the 5 
hunchback with greedy ears Fire flashed from her eyes at 
the thought of her proud self reduced to be the bond-maid 
of Kausalya, Long and hot she sighed and exclaimed 
"This moment will I drive Rama away from the haunts 
of men and place the crown on the head of Bharata Man- \Q 
thara ! I know that your brain is keen and subtle ; my son 


must win the thrown and that now ; Rama should be eter- 
nally shut out from the succession to the throne ; and I 
count upon you to find me a way to the accomplishment of 
15 my object" 

Manthara had set her heart upon the ruin of Rama. 
Joy unspeakable filled her to find that she had won over 
Kaikeyi to her views. 

" Here I have a plan ready to set Bharata on the throne. 
But I wonder you seek it of me. Have you forgot, or 
remembering well, do yoa pretend ignorance ? Perhaps, you 
prefer to hear of the welcome news fronfc me. Well, hear 
it, since you wish it ; and having heard, give your best 
thoughts to it." 

25 Kaikeyi precipitately rose from her bed and cried out 

" Bharata should get the throne by any means, fair or foul, 
Rama must never dream of it ; unfold a plan thereto." 

"There took place of yore", said Manthara "Then a 
great war between the gods and the asuras. The gods had 

aO the worst of it and prayed your husband Dasaratha to 
assist them. The king marched south with his friends, 
and you with him, to the impenetrable forests of Dandaka 
where Sambara, the dolphin bannered asura, ruled from 
his city Vaijayanta. A mighty master of illusion was he, 

35 invincible of the gods. Time and oft he fought with Indra 
and in the darkness of night, his asuras despatched to hell 
those of the enemies who lay wounded during the day. 
Dasaratha fought with him long and fiercely ; and was sore 
wounded by the terrible weapons of the asuras. He lay ma 

40 deep swoon and helpless in his chariot, when you drove him 
to another part of the field and sought to bring him back to 
life and consciousness. But, the asuras pursued him even 
there and pierced him with their remorseless shafts again 
and yet again. And you took him from their midst to another 

45 place of safety. Dasaratha could not be enough grateful to 


you for having rescued him twice from the jaws of death. 
He exclaimed in a transport of gratitude " Saviour of 
my life ! I grant you two boons. Ask what you will have ". 
You accepted it with joy and replied " " Nay", your gifts I 
reserve for season due ;" and he assented thereto, Now, it 50 
was you that told me of this. Else what know I ? My love 
for you has treasured it in the depths of my memory. 

Make your husband put a stop to the hateful preparations 
that are afoot towards the coronation of Rama ; put him m 
mind of the two boons you have of him ; and use them to 55 
seat Bharata on the throne of the Kosalas and exile Rama to 
the woods for twice seven years. Why ? Fourteen years are 
more than enough for Bharata to root himself in the affec- 
tions of his subjects. 

Hear me yet, while I direct you how to proceed. 60 
Daughter of Aswapati ! Take yourself hence to the Chamber 
of wrath as if your heart was aflame against Dasaratha ; 
wrap your shapely limbs in coarse robes, mean and soiled ; 
he there in dust and dirt ; the moment he steps in sob as 
if your heart would break ; raise not your eyes to his face ; 65 
speak not to him ; and our hopes are to be sure to be crown- 
ed with success. I know, for a truth, that you stand nearest 
his heart, For you he will jump into the blazing fire. For 
you he will gladly sacrifice his life but he dare not say you 
nay ; he dare not rouse your anger ; he dare not look at 70 
your wrathful face. Sluggard ! Gauge full well the full force 
and might of your marvellous beauty. Gold, gems, pearls 
and costly trifles he will lay at your feet ; but, never, for a 
moment, turn your eyes to them. Recall to him the 
two boons he granted you during the dread battle. He is 75 
not a man to go back upon his word, and in that lies our 
hope. Let him clasp you to his breast and cry over and 
again 'I give you the two boons' ; even then, rest not until he 
swears it by an oath he will not break ; and then ask him to 


80 exile Rama to the woods for fourteen years and to crown 
Bharata as ruler of Ayodhya. Rama absent from the king* 
dom for fourteen years, Bharata will grow in power and 
fame, win over the troops, the people and the treasure 
to himself and reign long and happily. At least wring 

85 from him a promise to banish Rama and the rest of our 
plan naturally succeeds. Out of sight, out of mind. The 
fickle people will very soon learn to forget their idol for the 
time. He will have none to befriend him. Your son, Bhara- 
ta, would have suppressed his enemies and hold uninter* 

90 rupted sway. By the time that Rama reHSrns from the for- 
est, the keen-witted Bharata would have won the hearts 
of his subjects ; surrounded by his friends and well-wish- 
ers, he would stand alone, firm-rooted. Now is the time to 
accomplish our purpose or never. Summon thy courage 

95 and skill to entrap the uxorious king and see that the pre- 
parations now afoot towards Rama's coronation are con- 
verted to the use of Bharata." 

Kaikeyi religiously believed that the evil counsels of 
Manthara were the surest means of good to her and 

100 exclaimed with wild joy, even as a a young colt unbroken, 
" Manthara ! Hunchbacks are naturally keen-witted ; but 
you are, far and away, the first among them. Strange that 
I have been blind to your superior excellences till now! 
Millions call me their queen and vow eternal fidelity 

105 and devotion ; but, you and you alone are the sleep- 
less watcher over my interests. You live but for my 
happiness. Dasaratha's black heart was till now to me 
a sealed book. Let be. I have set my eyes upon countless 
hunchbacks, mean, crooked and repulsive of appearance ; 

110 but your fair body is, by a freak of nature, deformed a little, 
I see not how it can take away anything from your natural 
beauty. A lovely lotus is none the less charming to the 
eye if the wayward gust bent it a little. Your chest and 


shoulders are broad and deep ; your stomach, with its tiny 
whirl of a navel, hides itself from sight, out of very shame as 
it were ; round and firm are your breasts and thighs ; your 
face is radiant even as the spotless moon ; the little bells 
from your costly girdle chime most musically ; your knees 
are firm and well-set, while your feet are somewhat 
unnecessarily long ; your long and shapely thighs shine 120 
through the white silk that veils them. Like a she-swan 
you walk proudly before me. In that witching hump of yours 
lie in teeming confusion, wonderful foresight, strange plots, 
plans and schemes of evil, intricate wiles of kingly polity and 
arts of illusion, which even the dread Sambara would give 125 
his life to possess. Manthara ! here let me hang this gold , f 
necklet round your shoulders. Wait till Rama is exiled to the 
dark forests and my Bharata is placed on the throne ; wait 
till my purpose is accomplished and my heart is content ; 
and I shall case yon precious hump in beaten gold. The 130 
most fragrant sandal paste, prepared with the purest gold, 
shall be spread over your arms and breast A rare and 
costly jewel, set with brilliants of divers hue shall hang on 
your brows. Gaily adorned and richly dressed, you shall 
move before me like a nymph of the skies. Lovely beyond 135 
compare, your face shall shame the radiant moon ; you will 
quell the pride and might of those that wish us ill and bring 
them to your feet. Countless hunchbacks blazing with gold 
and gems, shall wait upon you in turn." 

Thus the mistress lauded to the skies Manthara, her 14Q 
bond-maid, who turned to Kaikeyi even as she lay reclined 
on the snow-white bed, like a blazing fire on the 
sacrificial altar, and exclaimed " Would you raise the 
dam when the swollen waters have emptied themselves to 
nothing ? Arise and betid yourself to the task before you. 14 5 
Away to the chamber cf anger and await the foolish king." 

The royal dupe L swallo\ved the bait all greedily and 


repaired to the sulkery, and her temptress with her, She 
was unspeakably proud of her unrivalled beauty ; she flung 

150 away from her costly necklaces, rare jewels and precious 
pearls and, like a golden statue, she threw herself on the 
bare earth with wide eyes of anticipated triumph. Mantha- 
ra's spells lay heavy upon her and under their influence she 
cried, " Go, tell my royal father the happy tidings. ' Rama 

155 is exiled far away to the dreary woods. Our Bharata sits on 
the Ikshwaku throne. Or, Your daughter Kaikeyi journeyed 
to the dread halls of Yama even from the anger chamber. 
What care I for gold, gems and ornaments ? I draw my 
last breath when I see the hated Rama on the throne." 

160 MantUara had not a particle ot doubt now that her 
pupil was dead set on her nefarious purpose ; but, to make 
assurance doubly sure, she sent, as it were, a parting shot 
at Rama, cruel beyond expression and deadly. " If you 
allow Rama the least chance to get the throne, you condemn 

165 yourself and your son to countless years of woe and dis- 
grace. Fair one ! stick at nothing to gain your object. 1 ' 

Kaikeyi was pierced through and through with the 
keen poisoned shafts of the hunchback's malice. She pressed 
her hands to her heart to calm the tumultuous surprise that 

170 arose in it when she thought "And he had the adaucity to do 
a thing which he knew I would not approve of 1" She was 
furiously angry with him for having taken it upon himself 
to arrange for the coronation of Rama without asking 
her leave. " Go, tell my father ' Rama is doomed to 

175 wear out years of misery in the dark woods ; my Bharata 
rejoices in his royal power and glory' ; or ' Your daughter 
Kaikeyi hastened straight from the anger chamber to the 
mansions of Yama, the God of death.' If Rama is not to 
be banished from the kingdom, what care I for gold, gems, 

180 glands, dresses, costly viands or perfumes ? My life 
^n intolerable bprden to |pe f " 


So spake she, the cruel-hearted ; she flung away 
from her gay wraps and priceless gems and lay on the bare 
cold earth, like some lovely bird shot through the heart. 
Dark anger, ever widening, clouded her fair face ; stripped of 185 
of her gay attire, her necklets and diamonds, she lay, a 
prey to unreasoning grief, even as the starry sky over 
which the shadow of night draws apace, darkening the 


|he wicked Manthara did her work but too well. 
Kaikeyi, an apt disciple, was now busy revolving the 
plot hatched by her maid. She saw her way to sue- 5 
cess in all its detail. " Manthara ! you speak well ; 
and I shall do even as you will have me." Heaving hot 
sighs of wrath, she sank upon the ground like a fallen 
Naga damsel of the nether regions, or like a gay-plumed 
bird transfixed with the venomed dart ot 'the hunter 10 
Anon, the shadow of a doubt crossed her heart. " Do I 
win or lose ?" She knit her fair brows in deep thought for 
a while ; and then saw her path to gain and glory clear to 
the very end. Manthara, her maid, was devoted tu her 
interests and even more obstinately bent upon her purpose ; 15 
Kaikeyi's resolve filled her with wild joy ; and she saw 
Bharata seated on the throne of his father. Meanwhile, 
the daughter of Aswapati said to herself for the last time, 
" I win or die." Her face was black as a thunder-cloud 
with suppressed anger : wrapped in a single cloth, mean and 20 
soiled, she flung herself on the dust with her long hair in a 
single braid, even as it were the old serpent whispering 
into her willing ears unholy counsels. Like some sweet- 


throated songsier of the feathered tribe bereft of life, she lay 

25 in that dark chamber, strewed with her priceless Ornaments 

that gleamed bright in the growing gloom, as if they were 

" . the glowing sparks thrown off from her blazing anger ; or 

like a bright star-lit night when the full-faced moon has 

retired behind her fleecy curtains of ever-fleeting clouds. 

30 Now, Dasaratha, with thoughtful care, gave his last 

directions to his ministers about the solemn function of the 
morrow and, dismissing his audience, he withdrew to the 
apartments of Kaikeyi. " Rama's coronation was but sudden- 
ly resolved upon. My darling Kaikej* cannot have been 

35 informed of it. I will be the first to bear the happy news to 
her." And, like the radiant moon plunging into a bank of 
grey clouds in a sky over which the cruel Rahu had begun 
to cast his dark shaqtew, he entered the fatal pile. 

Parrots, peacocks, herons, swans and other birds, sweet 

40 to the eye or to the ear, roamed free over the place. Veena 
and lute, mridanga and flute, played soft music. Dwarfs and 
hunchbacks hurried hither and thither ; bowers thick 
with Champaka and Asoka, dotted the spacious gardens and 

' ' curiously fashioned grottos ; seats and couches of 

45 wondrous workmanship lay around, with gold, silver 
and ivory inlaid. The trees bore fruit and flower through 
all the year, thanks to the gardener's skill and science. Now, 
you came upon tiny lakes hid beneath a bed of bright 
lotuses or lilies ; now, you lighted upon pleasant nooks 

50 and snug corners provided with every tasteful delicacy. 
Visions of heavenly loveliness flashed hefe and there in 

- ' costly attire, lending to the place the air of the radiant halls 
< of the Lortlof the Shining Ones. 

And through that spacious palace, rich with every thing 

u. that man can desire, Dasaratha passed on, like a mighty 
lioih into his liar. He proceeded to where Kaikeyi used to 
await his arrival, but found her not there, The hour, the 


music, the birds, the perfumes awoke in him hot desires 
and made him all the more eager to clasp Kaikeyi to his 
breast. His eye glanced rapidly over the vacant seat and 60 
turned to the chamberlain who stood by and flashed a 
question. " Where is Kaikeyi ?" And, ere he could receive 
a reply, he abandoned himself to gloom and despair. 
" Never had my darling failed me thus. She knew the 
hour of my visit to her and would advance to meet me 65 
with a radiant smile, gaily attired. Never had I any occa- 
sion till now to come here to her rooms and miss her." 
Alas ! He knew not that the devil has poisoned her inno- 
cent mind with wicked counsel and that she lay in wait for 
him resolved to carry out her cruel purpose at all costs. So, 70 
he asked again " Where has she gone, my Kaikeyi ?" The 
officer trembled with fear and, with folded palms upon his 
head, managed to blurt out " Your Majesty ! It is some- 
time since I saw the queen proceed in the direction of 
the anger chamber, the fire of wrath in her eyes." " Kai- 75 
keyi angry ! Kaikeyi gone to the anger-chamber I" The 
words drove him remorselessly to the utter depths of des- 
pair ; and his senses well nigh failed him, 

He flew to the dark cell of Mourning and there beheld 
his heart's delight roll in the dust as one demented. Lovely 80 
beyond words, as some delicate creeper cut down to the 
earth ; a sight to nil the beholders' hearts with amazement, 
even as some bright God hurled headlong from His Abode of 
Light on his merit's wane; enough to wring the hardest heart, 
even as some fair Kinnara nymph cruelly tortured by her 35 
enemies; gifted with indescribable charm and j 
Apsaras banished from heaven ; with clouded ] 
some potent Illusion sent down on earth to 
men ; motionless, as some doe caught in th 
of the hunter, she lay writhing in her consu 
lordly she-elephant struck to the heart with 


The petted child of the ruler of the Kekayas, the 
favourite queen of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, it was all 
unmeet for her to lie there thus, as some broken waif. The 

95 snows of sixty thousand winters lay heavy on Dasaratha; 
Kaikeyi was in the bright summer of Her youth and 
loveliness. Dasantha was the soul of righteousness ; 
Kaikeyi had staked her all on the accomplishment of her 
devilish plot. Dasaratha was the dread lord of countless 

100 millions whose lives hung upon Ins breath ; in his heart was 
gathered the experience and wisdom of sixty imllemums ; 
but, his love for Kaikeyi blinded him t*every thing and he 
could not bear to see her suffer so, Frank and guileless, her 
beauty clouded his clear intellect and he could not see that 

105 she was the rival that supplanted Kausalya, and was heoce 
her bitterest foe. She was not fool enough to sit tamely and 
see Rama succeed to the throne of his father, when she had 
a goodly son and knew she could wind the old man round 
her little finger. Why seek for any deeper reason for her 

HO present outburst of grief and rage ? 

As some bull elephant soothes with soft trunk his mate 
whom the cruel hunter has shot down with poisoned shafts, 
Dasaratha fondly stroked his darling, saying to himself "What 
would she have ? Is her fair frame racked by any fleeting 

115 pain ? Or is it that she is displeased with me ? I wish I 
knew what she would do". With trembling heart he looked 
upon the lotus-eyed siren and the fires of love and passion 
flamed in him' anew. " Light of my eyes !" he cried " I know 
not aay reason why I should fall under your displeasure. Is 

120 any fool weary of his life and slights you ? Does any one 

seek the shortest path to the house of Death and puts an 

* insult upon you ? Here stand I innocent of any offence to 

you, your devoted slave ; and you roll befoi t me in the 

dust like one possessed of an evil spirit and bereft of her 

125 senses. It breaks my heart to see you suffer thus. 


"Say, are you ill ? I have here in Ayodhya and else- 
where, countless doctors of medicine, the foremost of their 
craft, who are devoted to me body and soul, through favours 
received and honors conferred. Is it your wish that I 
send for them now ? They will, in a trice, keep away pain 130 
and suffering from you. But, if you are really angry, tell 
me the name of the miserable wretch who has dared to offend 
you. He shall suffer the tortures of the damned. Or, is 
itlhat some one has done you a service and you grieve that 
you have not repaid him ? I shall reward him beyond your 135 
expectations. Weep not. Let not senseless grief rack vour 
fair limbs. What innocent man would you have me doom to 
death? What condemned wretch shall I set free? What beggar 
shall I make a prince ? What lord of riches shall I hurl into 
the gutter ? Be it anything that your heart may be set upon, 149 
know you not that I and mine are yours to command ? Can 
I bear to say you nay ? I hold my life of worth but to serve 
you and anticipate your least wish. It is a wonder to me 
that you can even harbour a doubt about my readiness to 
carry out your behests, knowing, as you do, my boundless 145 
love to you. You know better than others the extent of my 
power, energy, strength and wealth ; and yet I see you 
doubt my sincerity and ability to give you whatever you 
may wish for. This broad earth is mine to command, as 
far as the chariot of the sun courses. Gold, silver, pearls, 
gems, kine, corn, horses, elephants, shawls, wraps from 
Sindhu, Sauveera, Saurashtra, Vanga, Anga, Magadha, 
Matsya, Kasi and Kosala, east and south, what will you 
have ? Nay, give full reins to your desires Alas, that you 
should so soil your shapely limbs, rolling in the dust and 
dirt! What do you fear ? Tell me truly. I will 
not fail to remove it even as the rising sun burns 
up the morning dew ; and I swear it on the merit I have 
i)aid by till now" 


Consoled somewhat by his promises, Kaikeyi resolved 
to pierce his loving heart with cruel words and set about to 
bind him by dreadful oaths. 



AIKEYI bore in mind but too well the words of 
Manthara, ( Bind your husband by dreadful oaths and 
5 then make him grant the two boons VShe saw that the old 
king was under the influence of love and a slave to his 
passion ; he was ready to do anything for her. Surely it is 
but child's play for him to grant her wish and he, the 
supreme ruler of the broad earth and all it contains. " I 

10 am in the best of health," she replied "No one has put upon 
me any affront. Your numerous gifts and rare, I desire not. 
I have a certain purpose at heart which you, with your ir- 
resistable might to make or mar, alone could accomplish 
for me. If you are so minded, swear it so as I would have 

15 you ; and I speak to you the wish of my heart." 

And Dasaratha wondered much. " Here am I to obey 
her least behest ; yet she asks me to swear. It is a very 
trifle for me to give her what she wants. Well, I thank the 
Gods that my apprehensions about her health or peace of 

20 mind are baseless." With a pleased smile, he raised her 
from the ground and laid her fair head on his lap, yearning 
to feast his eyes upon her loveliness, The madness of 
his love rose to a delirium ; he stopped not to consider 
what he said. His fingers aimlessly played with her silken 

25 tresses and he said "Fairest of all flesh on earth 
and justly proud of it ! My soul's one delight ! Know you 
any among women that are nearer my heart ? Who more 
\velcome to my eves than Rama, the best of men ? 


you have me swear upon the peerless prince, invincible, 
noblest, best, the life of my life ? What shall I do for you ? 30 
I swear to accomplish your purpose and that on my Rama, 
whom if I see not for an hour, I die. I deem it a privilege 
and honor to be called upon to sacrifice my body, my life, 
Bharata and the other sons of mine, my dearest kin atid what 
rest I have ; but I cannot live away from Rama. And 35 
by him I swear to fulfil your wish. I would sooner seek 
the dark realms of death than fail to do your bidding. 
Ponder well and you will see that my thoughts and words 
are in perfect unison ; speak out your wish and save me 
from grief and anxiety. I have said my say and leave you 40 
to act as seems best. You know the mighty spell your 
beauty has cast upon me ; you know my power to make or 
mar ; and think you it is charitable to suspect my good faith ? 
Once again I swear by every good and holy act I have done 
till now that I will accomplish your purpose at any 45 

Kaikeyi never forgot for a 'moment Manthara's 
counsel to anyhow secure the exile of Rama and the 
installation of Bharata. Her joy knew no bounds to see 
that her beloved son was sure to get the throne ; for, 50 
Dasaratha had sworn even as she would have him. He was 
in her toils. Her doting husband would not fail to see her 
wish realized at whatever cost and he had sworn it upon his 
darling Rama. So, she resolved to tell him of her cruel pur- 
pose ; even his bitterest foe would not have had the heart to 55 
wound him so ; but, she was but the God of Death in disguise 
that came to bereave him of his life. Then a doubt cast its 
shadow over her heart and she held herself back, " True, 
that the old dotard has sworn it strongly. But, my boon 
is no ordinary one. He may hear me out and, aghast at the 60 
utter cruelty and wickedness of my wish, may foreswear , - 
himself and say ' It is not in me to do as you will/ 


Then my heart's hopes would be shattered." She resolved to 
bind him more securely to his word and exclaimed " Right- 

65 eous king ! You have sworn by Rama and by your good acts 
that you will grant me the boons I may ask of you. If you 
speak true, I call upon the eternal witnesses to men's 
thoughts, words and deeds. Listen, ye gods, thirty-three 
crores in number ! Listen, the sun, the moon, the Akasa, the 

70 nine planetary Rulers, the night, the day, the quarters, 
the heavens, the earth, the Gandharvas, the Rakshasasi 
the creatures of the night, the household gods and all 
living beings! Here king Dasarathf swears to grant my 
wish ; and he is a speaker of truth, a warrior of im- 

75 measurable might, an adept in the mysteries of dharma. 
Lefod me your ears carefully and witness his promise/ 1 
She cast her powerful spells over Dasaratha of undimmed 
valor ; she bound him helpless in the toils of dharma ; 
and firmly convinced that, blinded by love and passion, 

80 he was ready to please her at any cost, she fixed 
the feeble-minded king with her eyes and said " My lord ! 
Let me recall to your memory an incident of the far past. 
During that terrible battle at night with Sambara 
the Asura, he wounded you sore and you fainted right away. 

85 Then, I kept my head and perilled my life to drive you safe 
to a distant part of the field. I spent the livelong night by 
your side and brought you back to life and light. I hope 
you have not forgotten it. You were pleased to grant 
me two boons ; but I kept them with you until some likely 

90 season. Lord of the measureless expanse of the earth ! 
Soul of truth I I pray you grant me the two boons. But, 
having once passed your righteous word to grant me the 
boons, if now you go back upon it, rest sure I will not 
survive that indignity. I will even tear my heart by the 

95 roots." 

It needed not 3!! these solemn asseverations anc| 

^ I] f Hfe tfATAL dOONS 41 

preliminary vows. Like the foolish deer of the forest that is 
charmed by the sweet music of the hunter and is hopelessly- 
caught in the fatal net, Kaikeyi's words had already en- 
slaved him quite. And in his eagerness to convince her of 100 
his boundless love, he cried " Enough 1 Have you not my 
word that I grant your two boons whatever they might be ? 
And why hesitate ?" 

Alas ! He was little aware of the great misery that lay 
in store for him ; he saw not the shadow of death creep 105 
upon him slowly but surely. Kaikeyi observed him keenly 
and was convinced, beyond a doubt, that he was hopelessly 
intoxicated with her beauty and was wound up to the right 
pitch when he would do anything for her. She fixed him 
again with her eyes, and said in cold and cruel tones " I' am HO 
about to ask you to grant me the two boons you pro- 
mised of yore. Hear me with the utmost attention. My son 
Bharata shall be crowned as the heir-apparent to the throne 
with the very things prepared towards Rama's coron- 
ation. Mighty monarch ! Now is my time to ask you 115 
to grant me the second of the two boons I had of you on 
the night of the dreadful battle between the gods and the 
asuras. Rama shall be banished to the dark forests of 
Dandaka for twice seven years and shall live the life of a 
recluse with matted hair and clad in deer-skin and the 120 
bark of trees. Look sharp. This very moment, ray Bha- 
rata shall begin his rule as heir-apparent in undisturbed 
peace. This is the wish of my heart and you have sworn 
inviolably to realize it. I but ask you to perform what you 
promised of old and nothing new. Do I press upon you any 125 
unreasonable claim ? Nay, I but ask because you are sworn 
to it. True, it is not every creditor that receives a welcome re- 
ception at the hands of him who owes him money; but, it is 
no blame of his. This very day I shall see Rama turn 
his back upon Ayodhya and take his way lo Dandaka, King 130 


of kings ! Keep your word and let me not call you a traitor to 
truth. Act so that you will save from eternal disgrace, the 
line of the mighty Ikshvakus in which you are born, the 
bright traditions of your forefathers from the beginnings of 
135 Time and last, not least, your duty as a king, in whose 
crown shines the brightest jewel of Truth, I have heard wise 
and holy men sneak of Truth as the surest road and the best 
to the bright mansions of the Blessed hereafter". 




> AIKEYI'S words fell like a thunder-bolt on Dasara- 
tha's ears. He was bereft of consciousness and plung- 
5 ed in the depths of grief. " It is not in my Kaikeyi, of guile- 
less heart, to oppose Rama's coronation and wound my heart 
so cruelly She was never known to talk thus. So, I cannot 
take it as a fact. Is it some horrid dream ? Nay, I sleep not, 
but am broad awake. Am I gone mad ? No, I see nothing 

10 tending thereto. Is it some flash of memory from far off 
births ? It cannot be. I see no reason why such a dread 
calamity should have befallen me even then. Or is it some in- 
sidious malady that has unhinged my brain ?" He thought 
long and earnestly over it, but was no nearer the solution, 

15 By a great effort, he shook off the numbness that was 
creeping over him. Pierced with the cruel shafts of 
Kaikey's words, his senses were confused, even as those of a 
fawn suddenly face to face with a tiger. He heaved hot sighs 
even as some venomous serpent whom the charmer had de- 

20 prived of energy and motion. He sat there on the bare earth, 
a pitiable sight to see. " Fie ! Fie upon this miserable ex- 
istence of mine !" cried he and fainted away from grief. 
It was a long time before he came back to himself. Wild 

XII] Itt tttE TOILS {# 

fury possessed him to tear Kaikeyi limb from limb. An all- 
consuming fire flashed forth from his eyes as he turned to her 25 
and cried in a terrible voice, "Merciless wretch ! Black-heart- 
ed ! Savage destroyer of my fair line ! Incarnate sin ! What 
wrong have I or Rama done to you or to yours ? .What foul 
fiend set you up to compass this great evil to Rama, who loves 
and reverences you even as he does his mother ? Well, I am a ,30 
fool to blame you ; for, did I not invite this tate upon myself ? 
This broad earth holds none so foolish as to nourish in his 
bosom a glittering serpent of deadly venom ; but I mistook 
you for a virtuous daughter of a goodly house and took you 
to my heart ; and therein doomed myself to death and dis- 35 

"The whole world proclaims, with one voice, the count- 
less excellences of Rama What fault, what crime shall I 
impute to him to justify his banishment ? Kausalya, Sumi- 
tra, my wealth, my power, nay, my very life are not so very 40 
dear to me but I can put them away without a paug. But, 
the very idea of sending away Rama from my presence is 
utterly improbable and he loves me above everything. 

" The more I feast my eyes upon his fair face and 
godly beauty the more my senses reel with exquisite joy. 45 
I cannot dream of being away from him for a moment and 
live. The worlds may yet roll on sunless ; corn may yet 
grow to golden fruition unblessed by water ; but Dasaratha 
lives not without Rama, be he far or near. 

It is plain you have staked your life on this sinful 59 
venture. Enough ; stay your hand ere it is too late. Free 
yourself from the loathsome coils of this obstinacy. Look 
here. I entreat it with my head upon your feet. Have I not 
humbled myself enough ? Have pity now at least ; abandon 
your fell purpose. I wonder how you had the heart to plot 55 
this dreadful iniquity! 

"May be you spoke thus to test my love and affection to 


Bharata? Then you must but have asked the throne for your 
boy. Your prayer for the exile of Rama is utterly at variance 

60 with what you spoke of him time and oft ere now. 'Rama is 
older in righteousness and virtue than the sons of men ; 
hence I count him as my first-born. Bharata comes but 
next'. Said you not so? You then meant it to flatter my cre- 
dulous vanity, or, moved for the time by Rama's devotion 

65 to you. You are in the grip of grief and fear ever since you 
heard of the approaching coronation of Ramajyou have lent 
yourself to be played upon by evil hearted schemers ; you 
have sought the dark solitude of this ad|er chamber ; you 
wring my heart even unto death by your cruel obstinacy ; 

70 well, I see it all clearly that your fair words were no test of 
my feelings towards your Bharata. 

*' They say it prophesies the downfall of a noble line 
when some well-conducted member of it turns out all unex* 
pectedly perverse and wicked. You were known even till 

75 now to love right and fear wrong ? But this sudden moral 
twist foretells some dire calamity to the line of Ikshvaku. 

" I carry my memory as far back as I can, but cannot 
recall any occasion when your conduct towards me was any 
other but seemly and loving. Hence my perplexity and un- 

80 willingness to take your words in earnest. Girl ! Said you not 
over and again to me 'My Bharata is great in mind and heart; 
but Rama is his peer, nay, his master?" Your words stancj 
witness to your thoughts. So, I cannot, I will not be- 
lieve you now. 

85 " How had you the heart to condemn, for twice seven 

dreary years to the lonely forests, Rama on whom virtue 
and fame shed their undimmed lustre ? I see in him no 
fault, not the slightest, that could justify his banishment 
from the kingdom. Brought up in the lap of luxury and 

90 happiness, flower-soft of limb, what hardened your 
heart to pray for his banishment to the forests ? I knew 


you as one of righteous soul, shrinking from the least breath 
of sin. Where has that wholesome fear flown to ? You pray 
for Rama to be immured in the far off woods. Well, grant 
that I consent. But Rama is the darling of every object 95 
in creation ; and would they stand by and see him torn 
from them ? 

" Rama was never known to fail, the slightest, in his 
devotion and service to you. Your Bharata stands far 
below him in that respect. Then, what do you see in your 100 
son to set him up over Rama ? You know too well that there 
is none other than Rama who will wait upon you with love 
and reverence and obey your lightest word. How had* 
you the audacity to ask for his exile to the forests ? 

" There are millions of women in my kingdom, old and 105 
young. Do I hear any one of them complain that Rama has 
soiled himself with some unworthy act or that his fair fame 
is dimmed thereby ? Again, there are thousands of men and 
women in this realm who work hard to earn their living. 
Do you hear any one of them traduce Rama or speak of 110 
him any baseless calumny? With a pure soul, Rama con- 
ciliates all creatures by his sweet thoughts, words and acts ; 
he draws their hearts to him by realizing for them 
their utmost wishes. His mind is ever centred in their wel- 
fare and has thereby won for him the Worlds of Light, even 115 
the highest. He is idolized by the poor and the needy, 
whose wants he relieves with a lavish hand. The great and 
the wise he wins to give him pious counsel by unparalleled 
devotion to them. Nay, he makes his bitterest foes traitor 
to themselves and fast friends of his by the mere flourish 120 
of his redoubtable bow. He is a hero unmatched in sweet 
sympathy, profuse charity, profound wisdom and resistless 
valour. Rare virtues vie with one another to crown him 
truth, charity that secures a bright hereafter, stern restrain 
pf th$ organs of sense and action, large gifts that vyin the 125 


hearts of people, unwavering friendliness, purity of thought, 
word and deed, adaptibility, an open eye that sees into the 
mysteries of Being, and reverent service towards the elders 
and the teachers of Law. What madness possessed you 

130 with senseless hate to pray for his exile from the kingdom, 
and he godly in his attributes, radiant as a Maharshi and 
dearer to every object in creation than its very self ? 

" He is ever known to be sweet spoken and gentle to 
every creature, man or beast ; and I, of all, should never 

135 dream of his speaking anything that would cause me the 
slightest annoyance. What a miseraBfe return do I make 
him for all his love and kindness to me ! I should earn your 
love at the cost of hopelessly wounding the heart of Rama, 
dearer to me than the light of my eyes. Whom have I to 

140 call upon to stand between me and evil but my Rama, adorn- 
ed with patience, self-control, chanty, truth, righteous- 
ness, gratitude, gentleness and a thousand other graces of 
mind and heart ? And him you would have me put away 
from myself ! 

145 ' Kaikeyi ! I have lived long, too long on this earth ; 
Death opens its doors to me even now ; my age and mise- 
ry will melt a heart of stone. A drivelling dotard, I but 
say my few words over and over. I can only pray you to have 
pity upon me. I swear to make you mistress of everything 

150 that this sea-girt earth boasts of ;I but entreat you to spare me 
Rama. Kaikeyi ! You are young, very young, nay, a girl ; 
yet, see me fold my trembling hands to you in supplication ; 
see me lay my hoary head at your feet in pitiful entreaty. 
Let Rama find in you a sure haven of refuge. Make 

155 me not an instrument of evil, a tool of wickedness. 
Let me not go upon my plighted word to Rama, to my 
friends and to my people." 

Thus he raved on, consumed with grief and fainted 
cjuite ; recovered himself after a time ; staggered like on$ 


suddenly hit ; remembered that the hour was drawing nigh 
when he would have to part from Rama, and overwhelmed 
with sorrow, he entreated her again to rescue him from a 
shameful death. But Kaikey's anger blazed forth all the more 
violently and she exclaimed m more pitiless accents if pos- 
sible, ' Oh, monarch ! Were you present in an assembly of 165 
kingly sages like yourself and some one were to ask you 
casually ' Dasaratha ! How did you discharge to Kaikeyi 
the heavy debt ot gratitude for your life saved ?', would you, 
well-conversant with the mysteries of duty, reply with a 
bold confidence ? Would you be able to prove to them 170 
that you have kept your word to me ? Or, would you rather 
say ( I owe my life to her, who risked hers to save mine. I 
granted her some boons in the transports of my gratitude; but, 
only to please a woman's heart. Of course, I made light of 
it when the poor fool took it all seriously and asked me to 
grant them I laughed in her face and sent her about her 
business'? Well, a nice figure you would cut among them! 
King of kings ' How dare you grant me boons in the past 
and seek to perjure yourself now ' 

" Now, the mernbets of a class do n^t stand alone , the jgQ 
good or evil that one does raises or drags down the others 
along with him. The world judges of the class by the 
individual. The kings ot the vorld are eternally shamed in 

(< May be you have heard that, once before, a dove ,. 
threw itself on the protection of your ancestor Sibi to save 
it from a cruel vulture and the noble-hearted king offered 
his own flesh to the vulture to feed upo i ?, Again, Alarka, 
the royal sage, promised a holy Brahmana to grant him his 
wishes; and the blind suppliant wanted the king to give 
him his goodly eyes. And Alarka gave them all joyfully 
and won the bright worlds of the gods. Once upon a time* 
the gods prayed to the Regent of the Waters, < Ocean-lord '. 


We would that you keep yourself within limits'; and the 

195 ocean has faithfully kept its word ever since. Thus have 
your noble ancestors lived out their ideals of duty. Would 
you seek to forget it ? Would you foreswear yourself ? 

" Black-hearted deceiver ! I am no dupe of yours. 
Know I not that you have set your heart upon crowning 

200 Rama all unjustly, that you might disport yourself with that 
hag Kausalya, day and night ? Well, I care not to discuss 
with you whether the boons I ask are righteous or otherwise, 
true or false ; I will hold you to your promise and compel 
you to perform it to the very letter, iflRama should sit on the 

205 throne of the Ikshwakus, I will, before they face, drink deadly 
poison and kill myself at your feet. Death has no terrors 
for me, but is a welcome friend, if I should ever see my 
hated rival Kausalya receive the houage of the people, be 
it for a day. For, dare you deny that I am an infinitely 

210 g rea ter source of joy and happiness to you than that horror ? 
Once more I swear a dreadful oath by myself and by my 
darling Bharata. My heart knows not peace nor content 
unless I see Rama driven to the forests." She wrapped 
herself in cold contemptuous silence and turned a deaf ear 

215 * Dasaratha and his passionate entreaties. 

The words " Rama should be exiled to the forests ; 
Bharata should be crowned as king " fell upon the wound- 
ed heart of the poor king like drops of molten lead. For a 
while he sat with dazed senses, stupidly silent Anon, he 

220 stared bewildered at his wife, whose love and affection till 
then were strangely transformed into merciless hate and cold 
heartlessness. Her words pierced his heart like I he sharp 
Vajra of Indra and left him a prey to cruel grief and sorrow. 
He recalled her fierce obstinacy of purpose and the dread- 

225 ful oaths she had bound him by ; and with a heartrending 
cry " Oh, Rama !" he fell to the ground like a monarch of 
the forests struck by lightning. He seemed like a person 

Xll] IN TfcE TOILS 59 

of unsettled mind ; or one struck with sudden madness ; or 
like one whose very nature has undergone a thorough 
change under the influence of some fell disease ; or like a 230 
strong man in the cruel grip of an unknown malady ; or 
like some mighty serpent drained of its power and energy 
by potent spells. 

Next, he turned to Kaikeyi in abject humility and 
said " Girl ! Let me know at least who implanted in your 235 
innocent heart this wicked thought that flatters your hopes 
of self-interest. Has some malignant demon taken posses- 
sion of your soul that you speak to me all shamelessly ? 
You were but a slip of a girl when I married you ; and how 
could I see through your fair face into the black heart be- 246 
hind ? Now that you have grown in years, your nature 
asserts itself. Whom do you fear that you guard yourself so 
carefully by these boons ? If you have the least desire to do 
that which would gladden the heart of myself, your lord and 
husband, of every object in creation, nay, even of your 245 
darling son Bharata, put away from you this unholy resolve. 
Your mean heart is doubtless a legacy of the great sins 
perpetrated in past lives, Hence, I wonder not that you are 
resolved to work this evil to Rama and exile him from the 
kingdom. I am a fool to expect your dark soul to be illumin. 250 
ed by the faintest ray of pity or sympathy. But, search as 
you may, you can never bring up anything against me or 
against Rama to justify your grief or displeasure. 

My only consolation is that you will never see your 
heart's hopes fulfilled. All your labour and trouble, this 255 
mighty load of sin that you so sedulously accumulate, the 
wrath, the hate and the curses of god, man and beast will 
be your faithful companions for ever and you will have 
nothing to show in return. Fool 1 Know you not that Bharata 
remains in Ayodhya only if Rama graces it ; Bharata will 260 
find it a hell if Rama is not there. Surely, Bharata is not a 


wit behind Rama in his knowledge or observance of duty. 
So, I will divide this kingdom equally among my children; or 
I shall give it to Bharata. All that I entreat of you in return is 

265 that Rama may be allowed to cheer my last hours on earth. 
But should you deny me this reasonable request, rest assur- 
ed that your hopes will turn to ashes in your mouth. And 
you would have gained nothing except the doubtful pleasure 
of having tortured me to death. 

270 " The cruel words 'Betake thyself to the gloomy forests' 
would fall upon the ears of RamdPand dim the lustre of his 
fair face even as the moon in the grip of Rahu ; and shall I 
look upon it and yet live ? I have made this resolve to 
crown Rama, not out of any sudden freak or individual 

275 caprice or predilection, but have taken deep and earnest 
counsel with my ministers, friends, subjects, brother-kings, 
Brahmanas and sages. I have discussed the question in all 
*ts bearings. I would rather look on while my foes slaught- 
ered my soldiers than stand by and allow your obstinacy 

280 to rum my well-concerted plan. What would they 
think of me, my guests, the kings whom I have invited 
from the four quarters of the earth ? I should not be 
surprised if they exclaim * This Dasaratha is but an idiot- 
Sixty thousand years have passed over his head without 

285 his being any the better for it. It is but blind chance has 
kept him on the throne till now/ 

" What do you expect me to reply to the numerous 
men, women, children and persons hoary in years, 
knowledge and experience, when they ask me a few hours 

290 hence ' What has become of Rama ? Why does not his 

coronation come off ?' Shall I face them with a virtuous look 

* and say ' I had promised Kaikeyi two boons in the past and 

in consequence, have fulfilled them by banishing Rama to 

' the forest and crowning Bharata instead ?' But any one of 

295 them would naturally turn back upon me and say ' How 

Jtll] iN THE TOILS 41 

about your promise to the world that you would instal Rama 
to day as the heir-apparent ^ 

" When I have sent away Rama to the woods, Kausalya 
his mother, would very natuarally ask me 'Lord! May I know 
wherein my son hath offended you ? What reply do you 300 
expect me to give her after the cruel wrong I have done 
her ? What a noble woman that ! She waits upon me 
as any humble bond- maid, sweetly unconscious of her 
high estate as the queen of this realm. Now, she is 
the best and pleasantest of friends during my hours of 305 
recreation. Again, she is an ideal wife when discharg- 
ing with me some moral or religious duty, putting away 
from her the pride and haughtiness of a queen. Should I 
take myself other wives, she does not feel jealous or 
aggrieved in the least, but treats them with more than sisterly 310 
affection. No mother watches over her favorite child with 
more anxious solicitude than Kausalya, where my bodily 
comforts were concerned. She is ever intent on anticipating 
my slightest wish, and even Rama occupies but a secondary 
place in her heart. Ever soft and gentle of speech, she, my 315 
first love and my eldest queen, is disgracefully neglected by 
me and all because I am coward enough fear to to displease 
you. The love I have showered upon you has produced but 
bitter hate towards me ; my favours, my gifts and my benefits 
have turned into so many scorpions for you to lash me with. 320 
Now that you have thrown off the mask and stand in your 
naked wickedness, my folly comes backtoioost; and I 
suffer even as an invalid who gratifies his palate with for- 
bidden and unhealthy delicacies. A quenchless fire rages 
in my heart when I come to think of my owlish stupidity. 325 

" Sumitra, on whom I have never bestowed a thought 
of love or concern, will rightly be terrified at this atrocious 
act of mine and ever after shun me as a plague ; for, her 
turn may come at any moment to suffer at my hands. 


330 " Alas ! The word ' Dasaratha is dead ; Rama is 
banished to the forests ' would fall upon the ears of Seeta 
simultaneously like a bolt from the blue. Deprived of her 
husband and myself, she will seek swift refuge in death, even 
as a faithful Kmnara lady of the Himalayas, torn from the 

335 arms of her mate. And do you expect me to survive the shock 
of Rama's banishment and Seeta s hopeless despair ? Rama 
and myself will begin our journey at the same moment, he 
to the gloomy forest and I to the halls of Death. You would 
look well in your widow's weeds, holding undisputed 

340 sway over this happy realm. What an absurdity to even 
dream that I could see Rama leave my side and yet live ! 
As a glutton who deceived by its golden glitter quaffs 
with zest the poisoned cup, and writhes in agony later on, 
I took you to wife, deceived by your fatal beauty into the be- 

345 lief that you were a model of virtue and wifely devotion. 
And now that a chance has offered itself, you have boldly 
thrown off the disguise and shown yourself in your native 
wickedness of heart and faithlessness of purpose. Your 
insidious flattery enslaved my heart and made me over to 

350 you, bound hand and foot. I know that it will not be long 
before you sacrifice my life to your dark ambition, even as 
the cruel hunter who snares the unwary feet of the deer by 
his fatal music. A saintly Brahmana who has suddenly 
taken to drink would not be a greater object of abhorrence 

355 to men than Dasaratha, 4 who sold his eldest son into bondage 
to please a woman's caprice ; every righteous man in this 
kingdom would point the finger of scorn at me and that all 
justly. My name will be a byword of reproach and shame 
in town and village. Never have I experienced such a misery 

360 m ^is sixty thousand years of my existence. As the 
thoughts, words and deeds of a man shadow him faithfully 
from birth to birth, even so have the two boons I granted you 
in the far-off past found me out now and to my cost. 


" Ah ! woe unspeakable ! A wretched sinner, I have 
clasped to my bosom through these live-long years, all ignor- 365 
antly, a very fiend in human shape. I knew not that I had 
taken Death into my house. I preserved with pious care the 
rope that is to be my halter now. Far and near did I seek 
% for my Fate; I invited it, an honor'd guest, to my house; I 
lavished all my love and affection upon it; I had no eye for 370 
any other; no honor was too high for it, no service too low 
for me; and the end is near, when my guest will redden my 
hearth w)th my heart's blood. Alas ! I have passed countless 
years by your side in innocent playfulness, all unaware thai 
you were but sharpening the dagger that would one day 375 
be sheathed in my heart. As a babe that caresses the terrible 
fangs of a cobra, I have been fondling you all along. Well 
do I deserve that every object in creation should spit at 
me in scorn and cry out, 'Dasaratha is in his second child 
hood. He is an impotent slave to his ill-placed love. Who 380 
but that dotard would exile to the forests his eldest son and 
best, dowered with all graces of body, mind and heart, and 
all this to win a smile of a faithless woman'? My noble heart- 
ed son is driven away from the km dom like the meanest 
orphan. 385 

'< I mortified myself by keeping the Kanda vratas, by 
strict observance of the vows of Brahmacharya and by rend- 
ering humble service to my teacher; I exercised a stern 
and sleepless control over my senses and mind. Yet, when I 
entered the life ot a householder, a woman's beauty shattered 390 
all that I had built up and brought shame and misery 
upon me. 

"I have but to say 'Rama! Take yourself away from tins 
kingdom to the dark forests,' and he will gladly reply 'Even 
so, my liege.' Not a word of expostulation, not a murmur 395 
of complaint. Would that he obeyed me not! it may seem all 
undutiful ; but nothing would please me better. But, alas ! 


I know he will never do it. He is the soul of candour and 
but sees his reflection in mine. He will take my order of 

400 banishment in dead earnest and obey it to the very letter. 

" Man, bird and beast will shrink from me with abhor- 
rence and disgust when I send Rama upon his sad journey. 
1 Fie upon the fool ! Fie upon the hoary dotard ! Fie upon " 
the sanctimonious vilhan ! ' would be the universal cry. 

405 Ah, how can I live it through ? Hell and its horrors wait 
for me on the other side. Well, you have tasted blood ; 
and what new devilry are you hatching against others near 
and dear to me, now that you have driven Rama away from 
here ? Rama's departure to the forests will be followed by 

410 Kausalya's death ; Lakshmana goes with Rama ; Satrughna 
is ever with Bharata ; and Sumitra deprived of Kausalya, my- 
self, Rama and her sons, will die of a broken heart. So, live 
on long years of power and joy with the pleasant conscious- 
ness of having plunged into the deepest and darkest hell 

415 of sorrow and grief, Kausalya, myself, Sumitra, and ytfur 
step-sons I have but to tui n my back on this life and Rama 
on this city, and this glorious line of Ikshvaku will fall 
amidst wild confusion invincible till now, graced with 
fame, glory and virtue and rooted in the far past. 

420 If Bharata's heart be inclined in the least towards this 
hellish scheme of exiling Rama, I leave my curse to him 
and he shall not render me the last offices with his hands 
steeped in innocent and noble blood Base of heart ! Sworn 
enemy ! Does your heart rejoice ? Have your hopes borne 

425 fruit ? Foul murderess of your confiding husband ! Place 
the ban of exile upon Rama and lord it over this kingdom 
in widowed pomp, you and your precious son Bharata, You 
are a cruel devil in woman's guise ; unparalleled infamy 
will be my portion through you ; the meanest object that 

430 crawls the earth will shrink fro n me with unutterable 
loathing ; my very sight would be an insult to every 


pure-hearted person ; but, you, the living incarnation 
of sin, crime and infamy, rule in my place. Rama, 
my darling boy, has been accustomed to stately horses, 
elephants, chariots and other royal conveyances. How 435 
could he trudge with weary feet through the thorny wilds ? 
Culinary experts, graced with ear-rings, would compete 
with one another to prepare daintiest delicacies for Rama 
and serve him with zealous care. And how is he to 
subsist on wild roots, berries and tasteless wood-land fare ? 440 
Costly beds of softest swan-down, hid beneath thick layers of 
delicate flowers of sweet fragrance, would invite him to deep 
repose and happy dreams; dressed in gorgeous robes of rare 
texture, he 'would recline thereon, while bards, minstrels, 
singers and story-tellers vie with one another to amuse or 445 
lull him to sleep How shall he, clad in deer-skin and 
bark of trees, rest his weary limbs on the bare earth, rough 
with thorns and pebbles, while the night-ranging creatures 
of the forest roar and howl in their savage ferocity ? 

" I wonder whose wicked heart hatched this scheme 450 
to crown Bharata and send Rama a homeless wanderer on 
earth ? This hellish plot, undreamt of by any till now, must 
have proceeded from a brain of more than diabolical 
ingenuity. Shame upon womanhood ! Alas ! Fool am I to 
revile them indiscriminately, Bharata's mother, demon in- 
carnate, alone deserves the reproach, Black-hearted snake 
with a glittering skin ! Ever bent on having your own way, 
careless of what hearts you trample upon ! Marvellous heart 
that no ray of pity illumines ! You find most exquisite 
delight in watching my frenzied agony under your devilish 
tortures. Tell me once again what crime or fault you 
charge myself with or Rama, who ever seeks your highest 
good and happiness. Alas ! My Rama in the grip of mis- 
fortune and calamity is a sight potent enough to unhinge 
the brain and the heart of every object in creation. 455 


Parents will readily desert their children ; wives will cut 
the throats of the husbands who love them as their very 
life ; and all creatures will fall upon you in uncontrolled 
fury. A Deva of the heaven-world is not more graceful and 

470 handsome than my Rama in his unadorned beauty. Robes, 
gems and decorations but heighten its effect. Let me 
console myself by imagining his exit from this Ayodhya 
with the lordly gait of an elephant in rut. Alas ! It 
is not given me to behold it with these eyes Ah ! Would 

475 I not then cast away from me This heavy burden of six* 
ty thousand years and rejoice again in youth, strength and 
beauty ? 

" It is no wonder if my life-breaths follow Rama to the 
f<^*est. There might be life and motion on a sunless 

480 earth ; plants and trees may grow and flourish without the 
life-giving showers of Indra ; but, it is utterly impossible 
to keep away death from those who witness Rama's 
departure to the forest (friends or strangers). 

"You pray for my death; you wish me no good ; you are 

485 my relentless foe ; you are my Fate ; long and fondly did 
I cherish you ; I gave the warmth of my bosom to this ve- 
nomed Death, all deluded, and it has fastened its deadly 
fangs into my heart. You and your precious Bharata do 
well to redden your hands in the blood of me and mine. 

490 Rejoice in the prosperity of my foes and hold sway over 
this town and kingdom, widowed of me, of Rama and 
of Lakshmana, 

" Cruel fiend that pierces a broken heart ! You have dar- 
ed to speak to me thus, all unmindful of the wifely rever- 

495 ence you owe me ! What keeps your wicked tongue from 
shrivelling up ? Why do not your cruel fangs fall out of 
your head, split in a thousand pieces ? Rama never knows 
what it is to speak a cruel word or unkind to any. He has a 
pleasant word for everybody ; there is not one but sings his 


praise high ; and you alone enjoy the unenvied notoriety 500 
of seeing a blemish in his spotless character. 

"Foul smircher of ^tlie fair fame of Kekaya's house! I care 
not if black Despair swallows you ; I defie your puny wrath; 
seek not to frighten me with your death ; shiver to atoms 
and be sucked into the patient Earth ; I refuse to be 505 
your dupe and give my sanction to this suicidal plot. Sharp 
and merciless as a razor ! Base flatterer ! Your wickedness 
is something unspeakable ; you are born to ruin your fair 
house ; you have fastened your brazen talons in my 
heart's roots. I crave no greater boon than your sudden 510 
death ; and alas ! God denies me that. 

11 I see Death beckons me yonder. What joy in life 
when you have torn me from the side of Kama ? And 
should I live, what have I for you but unutterable hate ? No, 
spare me your refined cruelties yet a while. See, I lay my 
proud head at your feet and entreat you all humbly. " Cast 
an eye of pity on me ". Poor Dasaratha was, to all the 
world, a proud Emperor ; yet he was the abject slave 
of his wife. His boundless love for her had bound him and 
delivered him over into her hands. Like a masterless man, 530 
he raved all plaintively. It ill became one of his years and 
rank to say " I pray for your death ; I entreat you with my 
head at your feet Hast no pity on me ? " He bent down 
and groped aimlessly to clasp her feet, as she stretched them 
in utter shamelessness. But his tortured limbs would bear 535 
him no further ; and like an uprooted tree, he fell at her 
cruel feet, striving hard to reach them. 


IN THE TOILS (continued) 

>HAT had Dasaratha done to deserve such a fate ? 
Stretched on the bare earth he lay, even as th e 
5 emperor Yayati, whom the inexorable gods hurled down 
to the earth, when his waning merit gave him no place in 
Heaven. But, Kaikeyi, Sin incarnate, was furious at the 
delay ; she snapped her finger^t her husband and at the 
world, and devised fresh forments to make him work her will. 

10 " Ideal monarch ! Loud you brag of your strict adherence 
to truth; you never go back upon your word; but you would 
be my debtor for the two boons granted of yore." 

It took some time for the poor king to recover from 
the shock ; he turned upon her with wild fury and cried 

15 " Mean wretch ! Tireless foe ! Drink my heart's blood ; 
drive my godly Rama to live with savage beasts ; reach 
the goal of your hopes and rejoice therein. Should the 
bright gods ask me on high * Dasartha ! You bent yourself 
to a foolish woman's whim ; you bartered away for her 

20 fickle smile your eldest son, whose rare virtues you have 
buried in the dark woods. What put you up to perpetrate 
such wickedness ' , where shall I hide my disgraced self ? 
Shall I say ' I banished Rama from the kingdom to fulfil 
my promise to Kaikeyi ?'. That would be the truth of it. 

25 But, would they not reply ' What ot your plighted word to 
the world and to Rama ? ' Alas ! I have broken it, all 
basely. Woe and misery in this world and eternal infamy 
in the other, is all I have gained by condemning Rama to a 
cruel exile. 

OQ " Sixty thousand years did I moan and wail for an hen* 

to rule after me, Vows, penances, mortifications, offerings, 
Charity, sacrifices did I perform and observe past count and 


held myself fortunate in being blessed with the heroic Rama 
as my son. And him, my darling, you want me to doom to 
a life of misery ! How could I harden my heart to do it ! 35 

" Rama is the bravest of the brave ; there is not a sci- 
ence nor an art he has not mastered ; he has put away wrath 
and shames the very Earth by his sweet patience. How 
shall I give my consent to drive him away from the 
haunts of men to consort with wild beasts, my lotus-eyed 40 
Rama? Dark-hued, even as the tender lily ; long-armed, 
iron-jointed, supple-sinewed, of immense strength, he is the 
idol of all creatures. And mav my tongue blister if I speak 
to my darling child the words 'Bury yourself in dark Dand- 
aka. ? My eyes shall rot ere they behold my Rama of peerless 45 
intellect undergo pain and misery ; for, who more deserving 
of joy and comfort than he ? No greater happiness do I crave 
for at the hands of the Gods than to die before I stain my 
soul with this iniquity. Oh thou, crueller than a fiend let 
loose from hell ! Oh thou, whose heart revels in wrecking 50 
the joy and happiness of others ! Why do you desire to 
bring this calamity upon Rama, this exile to the woods, 
trampling upon the feelings of the whole W3rld ? Is his 
unfailing valour nothing in your eyes nor my boundless 
affection for him ? Alas ! infamy and disgrace will dog my 55 
name to the end of all time." 

The sun set upon the pitiable sight of a weak old man, 
the lord of the earth, yet raving as one demented. Merciful 
Night cast her dark pall over it. The moon, as she rode in 
the heavens during three watches of the night, was an eye- $Q 
sore to Dasaratha ; the winged Hours seemed to his sorrow- 
ful heart leaden -footed. He contrived to pass through the 
agelong night like one stricken \\ith an incurable malady, 
heaving deep sighs and hot. He fixed his tearful eyes on the 
sky and called out to it in heart-rending lamentations. "Star /.- 
bedecked Queen of night ! Have pity on me and continue 


ever ; nay, I ask it of you with joined palms of prayer. 

Why ! Not so ; I am powerless to flee from the presence of 

i this hated Kaikeyi, But, if it dawns, my subjects will seek 

70 me out and I will be relieved of the sight of my mortal 
enemy. Hence, merciful night ! Haste thee on the wings 
of thought and usher in the welcome dawn. I would give 
anything to be saved the cruel torment of being forced to 
look upon the author of my woe." 

75 Anon, his thoughts wandered to another point and 
he stood before Kaikeyi with clJISped hands of entreaty, 
seeking to turn her from her purpose. 

"Girl ! The world knows me till now as god-fearing and 
right-principled ; I am on the confines of life and may pass 

80 beyond at any moment ; I am wounded to the heart ; you 
are my only hope. Besides, am I not your lord and king, to 
whom you owe reverence and allegiance ? I have made you 
what you are, the favorite queen of the ruler of Kosala. Let 
these things weigh with you in granting me my prayer. 

85 " None were with us when I gave you the two boons 
You may drop them now and not incur the displeasure or 
ridicule of any. But my promise to Rama is far otherwise. 
lr\ full audience have I passed my word to the kings from 
the four quarters of the globe, to saintly Rishis and holy 

90 Brahmanas and to the millions of my subjects, ( I crown 
Rama king on the morrow.' If I break my pledge to them, 
how would I stand in their esteem ? You are but a girl and 
some intriguer may have put you up to this obstinacy. Let 
be ; I pass it over. But grant me my prayer. The earth holds 

95 none so dear to me as your lovely self of witching eyes, I 
crave your pity for Rama. True, the kingdom is yours by 
right of boon granted to rule or give away. But, pray make 
a gift of it to Rama, at least out of compassion for a poor old 
beggar like myself. May Rama live long to rule over this 
100 realm an d bless the fair donor every moment of his life. 


Thus you will earn undying fame in the world of men and 
high merit among gods. O lady of shapely thighs and 
charming looks ! It is but a trifle for you to do. But, you 
win my life-long gratitude ; you confer a great happiness 
on Rama ; the whole world will acclaim your praises, 105 
while great and good men will hold you in high esteem. 
( But, it will so disappoint my Bharata'? Is it what holds 
you back ? Nay, he ts the soul of nobility and justice ; he 
sets no bounds to his love for Rama ; and nothing will 
gladden his heart more." 110 

Thus he tried many an argument and appealed to 
every possible weakness of hers. Alas ! His heart was open 
as the day ; her heart was blacker than hell. His eyes were 
red and weary with grief and sleeplessness ; her eyes were 
redder, if possible, through rage and grief at being dis- jjj 
appointed. Tears rolled down his aged cheeks every time 
be thought of the moment that was to part him from Rama ; 
she wept hot tears of grief to think that her beauty and 
wiles had not enslaved him sooner. He stormed, he raged, 
he entreated hard enough to melt the heart of an iron 
statue and moved heaven and earth to loosen her cruel 
grip ; she brought into play every art, every wile, every 
stratagem that a cunning woman's brain could devise ; she 
cooed, she froze, she preached, she philosophised, she cut 
and thrust to bend him to her will. And she turned a deal 
ear to all his entreaties, expostulations, prayers and tears ; 
for, the high gods had hardened her heart and sharpened 
her cruel nature. Dasaratha fainted beneath the shock and 
came back to himself after a time. " Is this she on whom 
my heart's affections have been centred ? Is it that self-same 
Kaikeyi, the faithful wife, the guileless heart ? Nay, this utter 
callousness to my prayers and entreaties, this inhuman 
obstinacy, this cruel cutting speech can never be she'*; and 
he gazed at her long and earnestly, as at some frightful 


135 wonder. All at once, his thoughts turned towards the 
moment that was even then on him, when he would have 
to part with his darling son, and condemn him to a living 
death ; and he fainted right away Thus the noble-hearted 
king passed the live-long night, heaving hot sighs of im- 

140 Ptent rage and unavailing grief. 

" And when the pale and bloodless East began 

To quicken to the sun ,, 

Conch, veena, tabor, bards, minstrels, heralds, and pursui- 
vants recalled their mighty lorcfln sweet strains and sweeter 

145 words to the duties of the new day ; but Dasaratha curtly 
bade them cease. 



)HE pitiful sight of her lord and husband beside him- 
self with poignant grief at being torn away with vio- 
g lent hands from the side of his son and writhing in the dust 
and dirt, made not the slightest impression on her sinful 
heart. It was nothing to her that he was a puissant emperor 
of the glorious house of Ikshvaku. She never wavered 
from her fell purpose, but struck at him again and again. 

-~ " A fine king truly! He is pfofuse in his promises and 
grants any boon I may desire ; and now he holds back, a 
pitiful sinner to truth and virtue. I cannct, for my life, con- 
ceive what makes him roll there on the ground as if he were 
called upon to make a great and sudden sacrifice. Here sir ! 

1* Bear you in mind that you have to keep your promise to 
the very letter. Truth is the highest dharma, thus say those 
who have sounded its depths. I do but ask you to act con- 
sistantly with dharma in its noblest form of fulfilled faith. 
King Sibi, your noble ancestor, once passed his word to a 


vulture and gave his flesh for it to feed upon and won the 20 
Worlds of Light, Alarka, the royal sage, promised a learned 
Brahmana to grant him anything he might ask for. ' Give 
me sight ; give me your eyes ' said the strange petitioner. 
And Alarka gladly deprived* himself of his eyes to keep his 
plighted word. The lord of the ocean will find it no diffi- 25 
cult task to break his bounds ; yet, he never dreams of it, 
bound by a promise he had made to the suppliant gods. 
The supreme Brahman, the goal of all aspirations and 
efforts, finds no higher manifestation than Truth. Dharma 
flourishes in the rich soil of Truth. The eternal wisdom of 30 
the Vedas teaches nothing higher than Truth. It is the 
surest means to realize our farthest hopes. And if there 
glows in you any spark of a desire to lead a life of dharma, 
hold fast to Truth. Do you not rank yourself among the 
good and the great of the world ? Is it not your 35 
proud boast that none sought your presence in vain ? 
Then, let not my boons go to waste. Banish Rama 
to the woods and earn a more righteous fame. Grant the 
earnest prayer of one whom you hold next your heart. 
Once, twice and thnce do I warn you. If you heed it not 40 
and put insult and slight upon me, my blood be upon your 

Thus did Kaikeyi goad him on, every moment surer 
of her triumph, while the poor king vainly strove to free 
himself from the bonds of his plighted word, even as Bah, 45 
the Asura, struggled impotently to cast off the noose thrown 
round him by the Lord Vishnu when he came down on 
earth as Upendra. Helpless and confused as a bull 
prisoned between Hie yoke and the wheels, with woe-begone 
face and lack-lustre eyes, he groped and staggered awhile 50 
as one bereft of sight. But, his pride as a warrior-king of 
the line of Ikshvaku and his keen natural intelligence came 
to his rescue. With a mighly effort, he calmed himself and 


put on a bold front. "Sinful wretch!" cried he, "Here 

55 do I fling away from me that cursed hand which I grasped 
in holy wedlock when the priests chanted the sacred texts 
over us and the bright god of Fire bore witness to the solemn 
rite. Here do I put away from me once for all the wicked 
offspring of that marriage. The pale shades of Night flee 

60 in wild tumult before the fiery arrows of the lord of Day. The 
sages and the Brahmanas are even now at my doors, whip- 
ping up my laggard spirit to hasten the coronation of Rama. 
Well, it is a very congenial piecetif work to do, quite in your 
line ; you can utilise the very materials brought together for 

65 Rama's coronation to perform my funeral obsequies. If 
you raise a barrier between my people and their wishes, 
neither you nor your precious son shall offer with your 
sinful hands any libations of water to my manes. My eyes 
are grown accustomed to see the countenances of my peo- 

70 pie blossom with the anticipated joy of Rama's coronation ; 
how shall I bring myself to behold the very same people 
with downcast looks and gloomy faces ? " 

The moon and the stars paled in sorrow to hear the 
old king's lament and despairing, as it were, of doing him 

75 any good, left him far behind and passed on, A happy 
night it was in a way, and holy in that the forlorn father, 
albeit grievously wounded to the heart, was ever kept in 
remembrance of Rama. Kaikeyi viewed the glad morn 
with envious eyes ; of infinite suppleness and adaptability, 

80 she changed her tactics and turned upon the stricken king 
with redoubled fury. " Your words cause me unendurable 
agony, even as some dire malady poison-bred. This mo- 
ment you shall send for Rama. Wound not my feelings 
deeper. Place my son on the throne ; banish Rama to the 

85 woods ; see me clear through all opposition ; and keep your 
sworn faith to me. " 

Even as some lordly elephant struck deep with the 


sharp goad, Dasaratha writhed beneath the cruel words 
of winged venom and cried " Woe is me ! The 
bonds of Dharma crush my heart and I must even keep 90 
my word to this she-devil. Alas ! My senses desert me and 
I know not what to do. Yet, I would see my Rama once 
again ere he quits his unnatural father. " 

Day broke; the Sun beamed on his children; the aus- 
picious hour fixed for Rama's coronation drew near. The 95 
saintly Vasishtha, the mirror of all perfections, human and 
divine, entered the city and his disciples in his wake, 
with everything ready for the solemn rite. The roads were 
neatly swept, well watered and strewn thick with fragrant 
flowers. Bright flags and lofty bannerets waved from every 100 
house. Garlands and gay arches spanned the streets at close 
intervals, The stores and shops were invitingly open, rich 
with rare products of nature and art. Groups of happy 
men and women were scattered over the roads and squares, 
eagerly discussing the all-absorbing subject. Rare and costly 105 
perfumes rolled in heavy waves in the morning breeze. The 
sage had his bath in the holy Sarayu ; his prayers said, he 
now took his way to the royal palace through the fair city 
that cast into shade the capital of Indra. Brahmanas, citizens, 
provincials and experts in sacrificial lore that had an honor- 110 
ed seat before the king, all awaited the presence of Dasaratha. 
He left them behind and reached the seraglio, when he 
espied Sumantra, the charioteer, coming out of it. Vasish- 
tha stopped the king's confidential adviser and said " I 
leave it to your keen intelligence to announce my presence 115 
here to his Majesty. Vessels of gold filled from the bosom 
of the ocean and from Ganga's sin-cleansing wave, a beauti- 
fully-carved seat of Udumbara wood, every kind of seed, 
perfumes, gems, honey, curds, clarified butter, fried rice, 
holy grass, flowers, milk, eight winsome damsels, an ele- 120 
phant in rut, a chariot and four, a magmficient sword, a 


bow, palanquins, a moon-white umbrella, fleecy chowries, a 
gold vase inlaid with precious stones, a bull of spotless 
white graced with garlands of gold, a noble lion with four 

125 fangs, a horse of immense strength and energy, a throne 
spread with a tiger-skin, sacrificial fire, instrumental music, 
courtesans, priests, Brahmanas, cows, sacr ed animals and 
birds all are ready against Rama's coronation. Citizens, 
provincials, heads of clans, the crafts and guilds with their 

130 Masters, royal visitors and the common folk call down 
sweet blessings on the head of^Jama and look forward to 
the happy moment of his coronation The day has begun ; 
the auspicious star and moment draw apace ; and Rama is 
to be consecrated to his high office even then. Go, hasten 

135 his Majesty." 

Sumantra returned to the seraglio, singing aloud the 
praises of the king. He was a very dear friend to Da- 
saratha ; old in years and virtue, he had free access to 
the women's apartments ; and the wardens there pass- 

140 ed him through them unquestioned. He was utter- 
ly ignorant of the wretched plight in which his royal 
master was ; he drew near the curtains and with joined palms 
of reverence, began all innocently to sing the praises of 
his lord and master, m apt and well-chosen terms. 

145 " The Lord of Waters overflows with joy when he sees 
his radiant friends, the Sun and the Moon, rise on the 
horizon. Rise thou on our honzon and gladden our hearts. 
It was at this moment that Matah, the charioteer of Indra, 
lauded high his celestial master and inspired him with joy 

150 and energy to triumph over the Danavas ; even so do I, your 
charioteer, venture to sing your praises no less high and 
rouse you to joy and victory. The Vedas, the Vedangas 
Sciences and Arts rouse Brahma, the Demiurge, to his duties, 
and I announce to your Majesty the dawn of a new day and 

155 its attendant duties.* The Sun and the Moon gently break 


upon the slumbers of the tired Earth ; even so do I seek to 
call you back from the realms of sweet sleep. May it please 
your Majesty to come forth. Dressed in the gorgeous 
robes of state as befits the day of Rama's coronation, sail 
into our horizon in all your glory and splendour, like the Sun 160 
on the golden mount Meru. May the Sun, the Moon, Siva] 
Kubera, Varuna, Agm, Indra and the other Lords of the 
Shining Ones crown your arms with success. The happy 
night has drawn to an end and has ushered in the happier 
day when all beings will rejoice lo see Rama's brows adorned 165 
with the crown of the Ikshvakus. Your commands have 
been joyfully carried out to the very letter and it behoves 
your Majesty to brighten us with your presence and direct us 
further. Every thing is ready towards the coronation rite. 
Citizens, provincials, merchants, Biahmanas and many 179 
others await your Majesty's arrival and I came to announce 
the saintly Vasishtha I pray you give immediate com- 
mands to begin the happy function of the day* Your subjects 
yearn for the sight of your royal countenance, even as the 
herd without their leader, the armies without their general, 175 
the night without its queen, or the cows without their bull." 
So sang Sumantra, eager to please his monarch and congra- 
tulate him on the happiness that was in store for him ; but, 
his words fell like so many drops of molten lead on the 
bleeding heart of Dasaratha. The righteous king, in the 180 
midst of his splendour and power, was a pitiable sight, 
with swollen eyes, red with weeping. He sent back a plain- 
tive reply. "Sumantra ' Youi words do but lacerate a heart 
already tortured beyond words." 

Sumantra stood aghast and bending his looks at the 135 
wan face of his friend and master, he bowed with low rever- 
ence over his joined palms, and withdrew in silence. But 
Kaikeyi, ever watchful of her inteiests, as became the 
daughter of a king, was furious with Dasaratha for not having 


190 ordered Rama into his presence. She called back Sum- 
antra and said, "Friend Sumantra ! His Majesty has passed 
a sleepless night talking over the happy event afoot to-day. 
He was sleeping even as you came in. Speed to Rama's 
palace and bring him here as quickly as you can. Delay not, 

195 but look sharp about it". But Sumantra replied respectfully 
" I may not go from hence until the king orders it". Then 
Dasaratha spoke to him and said "Sumantra ! I would see 
Kama of bright presence as soon as I can. Fetch him 
hither." The aged minister rejcSced within himself at being 

200 the fortunate messenger of some supreme good to Rama. 
His guileless soul read the words of Kaikeyi as the com- 
mands of his lord and he hurried on towards the mansion 
of the prince. He emerged from the palace of Dasaratha as 
from the depths of the ocean and found himself in the midst 

205 of numerous groups of kings of various countries and the 
leading nobles of the city, bearing rare and costly pre- 
sents to their monarch, 



I HEN, Brahmans deeply read in the holy scriptures, 
court-chaplains, ministers, generals, and civic autho- 
5 rities gathered in the audience hall of the king, their hearts 
aglow with joy at the prospect of the approaching corona- 
tion. Vivasvan, the sun-god, looked down in all his splen- 
dour at the assembled crowds and the happy preparations 
afoot towards the coronation of Rama, the flower of his line. 
10 Pushya, the star of the day, shone bright as it abode with 
Cancer, the natal sign of Rama. The holy waters were gather- 
ed in vessels of burnished gold for the consecration bath. 
Sacred confluences like the Prayaga ; the Godavari, 


the Cauvery and the other rivers that mingled with the 
eastern seas ; the Gandaki, the Sona, the Bhadra and the 15 
other streams that flow from south to month ; Brahmavarta 
and Rudravarta in the Naimisa forest and other springs held 
in high veneration ; lakes, wells, pools and rivulets of hoary 
sanctity; the oceans and the seas; all contributed their quota. 
A splendid throne richly wrought ; a chariot spread with 20 
tiger-skins ; vessels of gold and silver, curious-shaped, in 
which floated fried rice, lotus leaves and the milky juice of 
the Aswattha and the Udumbara tree; honey, curds, clarified 
butter, fried rice, holy grass, flowers and milk ; well-bred 
courtesans gaily adorned ; chowries with shafts of gold en- 25 
crusted with gems, from which rayed out, moonlike, the silky 
fleece; the umbrella of state spread over head in moon-white 
lustre ; a lordly bull and horse of spotless white ; an elephant 
in rut, as bore kings and monarchs ; eight damsels of auspi- 
cious features, blazing with gold and gems ; the four kinds 30 
of musical instruments, bards, minstrels, panegyrists and he- 
ralds ; and other articles used in the coronation-rite of the 
Ikshvaku princes were kept in readiness by the officers of 
the king. They assembled at the palace-gates and discussed 
the unwonted delay of their master. " Whom shall we 35 
commission to report our arrival to His Majesty ? He 
comes not forth ; the sun ascends the steps to his golden 
throne and brings us nearer to the auspicious moment fixed 
for Rama's installation/' 

As thus they spoke, Sumantra addressed himself to 40 
the rulers and princes and said " I go hence at th ? king's 
command to bring Rama to his presence. The emperor, 
and Rama, more that he, holds you all in high esteem. 
Hence, I will even go back to my royal master and make 
respectful enquiries of him in your name. I will not fail ,- 
to ascertain why he delays so long in giving audience 
to his good friends and loving subjects/' 


And the aged minister, versed in the hoary traditions 
of the royal houses on earth, retraced his steps towards the 

50 women's apartments. He placed himself before the barriers 
of silk and gold and in well-chosen terms invoked the 
blessings of the gods on his master's head. " May the Sun 
and the Moon, Siva, Kubera, Varuna, Agni, Indraand the 
other Shining Ones ride with you to victory. Night has 

55 given place to Day ; everything is ready even as you willed 
it and we but await your commands Brahmanas, generals 
and town -prefects e.igerly explct your coming. May it 
please your Majesty to rise." 

Dasaratha recognised the voice of his friend and said 

gO "Sumantra ' You were commissioned by Kaikeyi to bring 
Rarna here. Why tarry at it ? I sleep not. Away and be 
back with the prince." 

Sumantra bowed in low obeisance ; and happy in the 
thought of some great good to befall Rama, he left the harem 

65 far behind him and took his way through the broad streets, 
gay with flags and pennons. Groups of people held 
joyous talk in the roads and squares, all about the grand 
event towards winch the winged Hours were bearing them 
fast. Anon, Rama s palace rose in view. Large gates of 

70 curious workmanship adorned it. Tiny kiosks dotted the 
extensive grounds, where statues of gold gleamed through 
garlands of gems and pearls. It burst upon the eye in 
dazzling splendour and beauty even as the bank of autum- 
nal clouds or a vast cavern in the Niount Meru or a lofty 

75 peak of the Dardara ; gems and pearls, scents, and perfumes 
and all things rare and lovely, were laid under contribution 
to snake it what it was. The cries of swans, peacocks, - 
herons and parrots were borne to the ears along the melodi- 
ous breeze. Rare paintings covered the walls, while quaint 

80 animals pranced or sprung from many an angle and column. 
Its brightness dazed the senses and the eye, More 


like the abode of the Lords of Day and Night it Deemed 
or like the mansion of the Lord of Riches, or like the 
palace of the Lord of the Immortals or like a cloud-capped 
summit of the Meru. Strange birds and stranger beasts 85 
chirped and moved behind bars of steel and gold. Visitors 
from foreign lands thronged the grounds in joyful expecta- 
tion, bearing costly gifts and rare to their beloved prince. 
Hunchbacks and dwarfs of the Kirata class, moved about 
short and slim, like black oases in a bank of fleecy clouds. 90 
Sumantra steered his way through the happy throngs to 
the interior. There he came upon a large band of men who 
had devoted their lives to the service of Rama and watched 
over him in sleepless vigilance ; they too were eagerly 
discussing the one topic of the day. Many a hall 95 
did the charioteer cross, many a square, and many 
a court before he drew near the women's apartments. 
Groups of men waited there before the gates with costly 
presents and welcome tribute ; there was Satrunjaya, the 
favorite elephant of Rama, in full rut, like a mountain 100 
crowned with clouds, heaving high his huge head 
and shoulders, all unmindful of the sharp good that 
bit into its flesh. Rama's favorite ministers in brave 
attire were there on elephants, horses and chariots. They 
made respectful way for him and he passed on unimpeded, 
like a mighty whale through the jewelled deep, to the inner 

apartments a miniature city graced with stately buildings, 

that resembled the huge clouds that rest on mountain 
peaks or the swift coursing cars of the gods. 



8UMANTRA, the living chronicle of the dead past, left 
behind him the gates of the seraglio crowded with 
expectant people and entered another suite of apartments 
comparatively quiet. There he found many armed youths 
richly attired, watching over*the safety of Rama with 
whole-souled devotion. There were wardens of the women's 

10 apartments, venerable old men past the age of ninty-five. 
The whole world reposed in security under the shadow of 
Rama's bow ; and Rama slept secure under the shadow of 
the light wands held in the trembling hands of these ancients. 
They were clothed in gems and gold, and all to please 

15 Rama. They loved him more than his own father Dasa- 
ratha ; every time the prince returned from the royal 
palace after his dinner or supper there, they fondly placed 
him on their laps, embraced him warmly, smelt his head 
and would not part with him till they were assured of his 

20 happiness of mind and body. The scents, the perfumes that 
adorned the lovely form of Rama left evident marks upon 
the bodies of these elders. Venly, it was a more pleasing 
sight and rare than that of Rama and Sita in their gay attire. 
They knew that Sumantra was a favorite with Rama and 

25 rose in respectful haste to welcome him, The charioteer 
went round them in reverence and spoke to them humbly, 
<( May I request you to inform Rama that Sumantra, his 
servant, waits upon his pleasure." Rama was engaged in 
sweet converse with Sita when the news was brought to him. 

30 He knew the aged counsellor as the most intimate friend of 
his father ; and to win his sire's favour the more, ordered 
him to be brought to his pr$spn<?e 


Sumantra advanced to where Rama sat and beheld the 
Lord of the universe. Rama was the master of boundless 
wealth even as Kubera. The Guardian of the North bestowed 35 
gold, gems, horses, kine and everything that his followers 
might pray for ; Sree Rama conferred upon those who had 
won the right to be near him, the envied privilege of be- 
holding the supreme beauty of his form. He was absorb- 
ed in profound meditation upon Narayana, and Seeta with 40 
him. His palms were joined in humble reverence, while 
graceful garlands adorned his broad shoulders. Sumantra, 
the lowest of the low, beheld Sree Rama, Higher than the 
Highest. Ah ! What merit did he lay up in past lives ! The 
golden seat was chased with gems and blazed with lovely 45 
statues and rare articles of vertu. Priceless rugs covered it 
and shawls, flower-soft even as the delicate limbs of that 
prince of men, who reclined thereon as some dark-blue 
cloud on a golden mountain. The charioteer was blessed 
to behold the Lord even as He is described under the 50 
mystic symbology of Paryanka Vidya in the Kaushitaki 
Upanishad a sight deserved more of the Liberated Ones 
and the Angels before the Throne. Does the Lord say 
" Thus far I am gracious to my children and no father" ? 
Sandal paste, red as hog's blood and prepared with saffron 55 
paint, adorned his shapely hands and breast. Seeta had 
touched it and communicated to it, all unconsciously, 
a brighter lustre, a more delicious coolness, a sweeter 
fragrance. It is again the Lord's will that wards off 
from us the obstacles that he in the way of our beholding 60 
his supernal beauty. Seeta stood by, fanning him softly 
with the moon-white chamara, even as the Moon by the 
side of the star Chitra on the full moon day in the month 
Of the name. Sumantra beheld him and was rewarded 
with clearer vision. The Supreme Person shone refulgent 65 
even as a sun of limitless radiance ; the Lord of the Worlds 


conferred on his devotees the envied previlige o! enjoying 
the bliss of His presence. Sumantra prostrated himself 
before the Deity of his heart and was rewarded with a bright- 
70 er and purer body. He folded his palms on his head and 
made respectful enquiries of his welfare at all times and in 
all places and said "*Fair fruit of Kausalya's glorious past ! 
Your sire desires your presence and so does Kaikeyi ; you 
are expected there very soon." 

75 Rama expressed the very great pleasure the news gave 

him by bestowing handsome p&sents on the messenger 
and said to his wife "Seeta ! I think that my father and 
mother have thought of some new development or modifi- 
cation in connection with my installation. The king consi- 
80 ders that it would not be prudent or wise to wait for 
Bharata's return, and pleads his weight of years and 
infirmities ; Kaikeyi's sharp intellect could not have 
failed to' grasp the motive and, desirous of doing what 
, , would give me pleasure, she urges the king to hurry 
85 pn the arrangements for my investiture. She would 
dp much to advance the peoples' welfare and happiness. 
My interests and advancement are ever nearest her 
tout ; and she has no other will but her lord's. Hence I 
;, am sure that my consecration will be put forward consider* 
90 *bly. And it is better still that my dear father and mother 
chose Sumantra as their messenger to me, as if they want- 
ed to select one who would sacrifice his here and hereafter, 
if he could further my interests, ever so little. The attend- 
* , ants in the women's apartments are not more solicitous 
95 about my good fortune than this emissary from my 
royal father. He will crown me heir-apparent of this glori- 
ous realm and that ere the day grows older. So I go hence 
to hear my sire's commands. Rest here in comfort and 
amuse yourself with your friends and people." He cast 
100 r unc * her shoulders a rare necklace of priceless pearls, 


touched her feet in sweet entreaty and persuaded her to 
reconcile herself to his absence. < 

She stood upon a higher level than Rama ; unlike him, 
she never spent long and dreary months of darkness and 
torture in that toothless womb of a mother ; she rose to 105 
view at the end of a ploughshare, when Janaka of the open 
Eye prepared the ground for a holy sacrificial rite. Hence it 
was not amiss that Raghava should lose his heart to her and 
respect her so. The pearl necklace round Rama's shoulders 
soon made way for another, rarer and more priceless the 110 
love-laden looks from the dark and unfathomable depths of 
her eyes. Her home was ever in the heart of Rama and she 
naturally followed him as far as etiquette allowed, calling 
down upon his beloved head every blessing she could think 
of. "I pray that no evil eye rest upon all this boundless beauty 115 
and loveliness. May the bright Gods keep away from my 
lord every harm and evil. May His Majesty place you up- 
on the throne of your glorious ancestors of happy memory 
3nd crown you later on, in all pomp and ceremony, during 
the holy Rajasooya, even as the Demiurge placed the crown 120 
of the three worlds on the brows of Indra. I long to see 
you in sacrificial attire, your initiatory vow taken, pure, in- 
tent upon the observance of vows, holy butter on your 
limbs, a deerskin around your shoulders and a deerhorn in 
your hands. If Vasishtha ever ordained for you any vow or 125 
observance, you used to say to yourself " My Guru has light- 
ened this bver much, assuming I have been reared delicate- 
ly and unused to hardships" and mortify yourself fourfold. 
Should your teacher tell you 'You should not allow a woman 
to touch you when you are observing a vow. Of course, 130 
this does not apply to your wedded wife, Seeta, you follow- 
ed him not, but bathed even if you had a suspicion of my 
skirt brushing yours so lightly. Not that I do not welcome 
your present accession to power. May Indra watch over 


135 you in the East, Yama in the South, Varuna in the West, 
and Kubera in the Nortji." 

Rama took leave of Seeta, completed the happy pre- 
liminaries to his coronation and came out of his seraglio 
with Sumantra, even as a noble lion from his rocky 

140 kir. Lakshmana awaited them at the gates. Anon, in 
the central hall he came upon his friends and those that 
waited to see him and gave them kind looks and fair 
greetings. Then, on to the lofty chariot of silver, bright as 
blazing fire ; very commodious il was, and richly wrought 

145 with gem and gold, that blinded the eye like the noonday 
sun. Rare tiger-skins covered the seats ; horses of the 
purest breed were yok;d to it, more like elephant calves; 
and the noise of the r:lhng wheels was like the rumbing of 
clouds. Raghava sprang upon it and drove fast to his father's 

150 mansion, even as Indra in his celestial car drawn by the green 
horses. As the rolling of distant thunder among the hills 
or as the Lord of Night springing from the Rising moun- 
tain, Rama proceeded on his way, while his other self, Laksh- 
mana, guarded his back, the umbrella of state held aloft in 

155 one hand and the moon-white Chamara in the other. The 
assembled thousands raised a shout of joy at the sight of 
him that rent the very skies. Crowds followed him upon 
fleet horses, camels, elephants and chariots. Bands of 
chosen veterans, flashing bright with steel and gold, marched 
before him, his welfare and safety their only care. The 
sweet strains of martial music, the plaudits of *bards and 
heralds, and the war-cries of veteran chiefs all rose upon the 
air in pleasant confusion, as he marched along the royal road. 
Countless ladies in faultless attire scattered fragrant flowers 
upon their beloved prince and extolled him high in the 
joy of their hearts. " Enhancer of Kausalya's delight ! Pro- 
ceed to take upon yourself the government of this fortunate 
Kosala, handed down by your ancestors of illustrious memory. 


Your mother's heart will surely swell to see you seated on 
the throne of the Ikshvakus and hold sway over the for- 170 
tunate millions. Again, there is none that fortune holds so 
dear as our Seeta. Marvellous, indeed, must have been the 
merit she has laid up in her past lives to raise her to the 
envied rank of your favorite wife and faithful, even as the star 
Rohini, ever inseparable from the Moon." So spoke many a 175 
dame and matron, and Rama loved them all the more for 
their sweet sympathy and whole-souled devotion. 

" Rama that goes yonder is the gem of his glorious line 
and richly deserves the love and esteem of Dasartha, who 
means to invest him with unbounded swayi ; and that means igQ 
the realisation of our dearest hopes. It is the greatest good 
that can ever befall us, for, when Rama becomes the guardian 
of our interests, none of us will ever know what it is to want 
or grieve." So ran the words from the assembled crowds in 
glad acclaim. Rama heard them all and resolved to deserve 185 
better their love and confidence. Through huge squares 
and spacious he drove, dense with bull, elephants and cows, 
horses and cars, along long lines of palatial stores filled 
with the rarest products of nature and art, past bands of 
bards, mintrels, heralds, penegyrists and pursuivants. Sweet 190 
strains of festive music mingled with the joyful neighs 
of horses and trumpetings of elephants and the solemn 
benedictive chants of Brahmanas. And so he drove along 
the royal road, even as the Guardian of Riches, on to where 
his father 1 ! palace stood, 195 



i AY flags and proud pennons rose to the sky from 
every part of the city. Sandal, aloes, frankincen^ 


5 and many other rare perfumes spread sweet fragrance every 
where. The mansions of the nobility gleamed white like a 
bank of fleecy clouds. The royal road was lined with shops, 
booths, stalls, stores, emporiums full of rare and priceless 
silks, cloths, wraps and unbored pearls, crystals and every 

10 delicacy and scarce had room for the huge crowds that 
poured in every moment. And Rama drove along, letting 
his eyes rest on the familiar and loved scenes that recalled 
the bright roadway of the Gods on high. The crossings 
were gay with curds, grains of colored nee, parched grain, 

15 sandal, aloes, incense, garlands and offerings of food. His 
numerous friends and well-wishers gave him their blessings 
as he passed on. " May your fair brows wear the crown of 
Kosala. Walk in the traditions of your fathers and extend 
the shadow of your protecting arm over us, even as Dasaratha 

20 and his predecessors used to do. Your accession to the 
throne spells a long period of peace and prosperity for us. 
We desire nothing more than to see you ride back to your 
palace fresh from the consecration bath. What care we 
for the material pleasures this earth can give us or vows, 

25 chants, sacrifices and gifts that can secure to us a happy 

hereafter ? Once again we proclaim that our hearts hold no 

other wish than to see you monarch of this fair realm." 

Such praises and plaudits elated not the heart of 

Rama : they left his humbler and more solicitous to 

30 deserve such unbounded love and confidence. He passed 
along, rewarding them with a glance, a look, a nlkJ, a word, 
a bow, a slight raising of the brows or a reverent clasp 
of the hands as became their rank and station. Those who 
looked at him but once, stood rooted to the spot, gazing 

g5 intently at where he flashed upon their sight. Their looks 
followed their hearts which they had lost to Rama. They 
saw him in every object ; they heard him in every sound. 
Just conceive what it would hays been like in his presence \ 


It is not given to all to be so blessed as to speak to Rama, 
to pour our hearts to him in eloquent praise, to offer him 40 
our poor welcome and homage. The very sight of his 
supernal beauty raises us to the loftiest heights of ineffable 
bliss. But it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for 
one to have a sight of his glorious presence ; or more 
fortunate still, to come within the range of his compas- 45 
sionate glance. But, should there be a man who neither saw 
Rama nor was seen by him, the meanest object in creation 
will rise up against him in scorn and contempt. Now, , the 
whole world may shun a man ; yet, he can never fail to 
have the approbation of his conscience to console him ; 50 
while this miserable wretch is utterly denied even that 
poor comfort. The small still voice in him will spurn him 
away. Rama is the same to all, high or low, peasant or phi- 
losopher, man or beast ; he fulfils in them their utmost de* 
serts and withholds from them nothing not even the 55 
bliss of Emancipation. Hence, it is no wonder that they 
love him so and lose their hearts to him. 

Crossings, fanes, holy trees, halls, he passed along, 
going round them in reverence, and approached the palace 
of his sire that, with its Vardhamana houses flashing with 60 
gems, gave one the idea of the mansion of Indra come down 
on earth. Lofty towers hid the sky from view, like cloud- 
banks or Kailasa peaks or the snow-white Virnanas (aerial' 
cars) of gods. He drove through three blocks guarded by 
archers, and walked through a couple more until he was at 55 
the gates of the seraglio. He left his friends and retinue there 
and entered that paradise on earth. The vast crowd waited 
outside in joyous anticipation, even as the shoreless ocean 
awaits the rising of the moon and said to themselves 
"SoHte marvellous good fortune welcomes our Rama yonder; JQ 
he will be back among us in no time and give us the 
pleasure of beholding his coronation. " 





IAMA entered and saw his father lying on the bed, 
with hopeless eye and pallid mien and Kaikeyi 
standing by. He clasped his father's feet with humble 
reverence and next touched those of Kaikeyi. Dasaratha 
managed to force a cry ''Rama" and then speech failed him ; 
cruel tears blinded his eyes <pd he saw not Rama. The 
prince had never seen his father in such a fearful state. Sud- 
10 den terror gripped him fast,even as though he had set his foot 
on a cobra's hood, all heedlessly. No danger or misfortune, 
calamity or peril had any power to ruffle the serenity of his 
heart. But his fear was great that he might somehow or other 
be the unconscious cause of the present misery of Dasaratha. 
15 His father was sighing hot and furiously, like a wounded 
snake ; pale and emaciated with grief, bewildered and dazed, 
he lay there in strange despair, like the unfathomable mon- 
arch of the waters disturbed to the very depths ; or like the 
Lord of Day in the jaws of the dread Rahu ; or like a Rishi 
20 shorn of his spiritual lustre by polluting himself with a lie. 
Rama's heart boiled within his breast like an enraged sea 
to think that his might have been the hand that had, all in- 
nocently, dealt the blow. The king's interests ever lay nearest 
his soul and he said to himself " Wondrous strange ! My 
25 lord's countenance is not bright, as usual, with joy at behold- 
ing me ! It matters not that something might have roused his 
displeasure against me during my absence ; the moment I 
went into his presence, he would clean forget it and turn 
upon me a face wreathed in smiles. And my dear sire's 
30 heart is torn with grief the moment he sets his eyes on me 1" 
With a heavy heart and wan* face he addressed himself to 
Kaikeyi and said " Mother mine ! Is my sire displeased with 
pie for any unwitting fault of pine ? I pray you enlighten 


me. If it were so, whom have I to intercede for me but 
your good self ? Unvarying in his love and aftection 35 
for me, nay, almost verging upon partiality, how is 
it I find him careworn, miserable and ominously 
silent to me ? This tabernacle of ours is meant to go through 
every kind of experience, good and evil, happy and wret- 
ched ; and no one's life is a bright summer all along. So, 4& 
it is quite in the order of things that he should be subject to 
infirmities and maladies. Or has he some great grief 
weighing heavy on his heart ? Or is it anything untoward 
that has befallen Bharata, who brings joy to the hearts of the 
beholders, or Satrughna the unshaken or my dear mothers? 45 
He is my lord and king ; my duty ever waits upon his 
pleasure. He is my fond father ; the highest merit I could 
ever hope to lay by is to obey his lightest behests, I take 
no pleasure in life unless it were devoted to his service ; 
but now, when his heart is turned away from me, in anger t ^Q 
all the more it is an imperious command. A little thought 
would convince us that we derive from our father the bodies 
we use. So, he is the only god we see and feel. Beyond 
a doubt, our highest aspirations are fulfilled and our greatest 
good secured by carrying out his commands. Or, is it that ^ 
you have, through anger or love, spoken to him harshly and 
clouded his spirits ? Mother ! I pray to know the truth of it- 
What is it that has brought about this sudden and strange 
revolution in the nature and thoughts of oar lord ? " 

Kaikeyi knew as well as any that she had Ho fault to gQ 
find with Rama ; but, her solicitude for the interests of 
herself and Bharata blinded her to every other considera* 
tion ; and she felt no fear nor shame that she was about to 
speak to Rama, words unholy, unrighteous, that were to be 
the prolific mother of countless woes and calamities. 65 
14 Rama ! The king is not offended with you ; nor is he 
afflicted with any other grief, He desires to speak to you 

somewhat ; but hesitates out of a natural fear that you may 
not carry out his wishes. You know how much he loves you ; 

70 and his very love stands in the way of his speaking to you 
anything that might pain your heart. He has made a pro- 
mise to me long ago, and it rests with you to fulfil it. 
He forced his boons upon me and repents of it 
when I hold him to his promise, like any low- 

75 born churl. Is it not supremely foolish in him, to 
grant me two boons of* my qjpioice and grieve when I 
demand its fulfilment, like one that shuts the stable when 
the horse is stolen ? Dharma is the root of this universe, 
so say the wise. And it is your plain duty to see that he 

gO does not prove a traitor to Truth through his unseasonable 
anger towards me. If you give your word to me that you 
will anyhow fulfil his promise to me, just or unjust, I will 
even speak on his behalf, as his extreme love to you ever 
stands in the way of his telling it to you himself." 

85 Unutterable grief filted the heart of Rama on hear- 

ing this. Alas ! What a fate ! Has it come to this that 
my own mother should suspect me of unwillingness or hesi- 
tation to obey the behests of Dasaratha, my father, my king 
and my teacher ?" He turned to Kaikeyi and exclaimed in 

90 the hearing of his -sire " Fie, fie ! Would that I were stricken 
dead and sucked into the dark depths of oblivion than hear 
f torn- your lips the cruel words ( if ' and ih&t in conneptfofl 
with my fatlrer ! Is'he not my lord and. ruter, my father, 
my master, the guardian of my interests-? A -word frojfi him 

gg and I leap into the flames or quaff the poison-cup or plungfe 
into the depths of the ocean. So I pray you speak 1o me 
what my lord has at heart. I swear most solemnly to ful- 
fil it whatever it might be. Need I tell you that it is -utterly 
pnnecessary and ridiculous*! or me to promise or to swear* 

100 Rama speaks not twice." 

Then, Kaikeyi, the most hardened of sinner^ addressed 


herself to Rama, the soul of truth and candor and said " In 
the long past there was a great battle between the gods and 
the asuras in which your father fought for the gods. The 
asuras wounded him grievously so that he was at death's 105 
door* I brought him back to life and safety and he was 
pleased to give me two boons, I demand them of him 
now. If you have any care that the promises made by 
yourself and by your father should hold good, pay heed to 
my words. Bharata, my son, should be crowned as the 110 
hdr-apparent to-day and with the very articles prepared 
towards your coronation. You should cancel all the arrange- 
ments made for your installation and live for fourteen 
years in the forest of Dandaka like a recluse, with matted 
hair, deer-skin and bark of trees. My Bharata should reign 115 
from this Ayodhya over the broad earth with all its treasures 
of gold and silver, horses and elephants. The king is 
torn between the conflicting emotions of love, compassion 
and grief ; wan, emaciated and bewildered, he will not 
even allow you to see him. Bright scion of the Raghus, jgQ 
who never went back upon their plighted faith ! Fulfil the 
promise made by your sire. Walk in the path of Truth and 
save him from the jaws of hell." 

4 - The cruel words fell on the wounded heart of Dasa- 
rathaandhe writhed in impotent agony. " Alas ! What have 125 
I done -to be doomed to this torture, to listen, all powerless 
to such dreadful -words- from this fiend in- human shape ? 
Why was I chosen the instrument ot inflicting this cruel in- 
jury upon Rama, dearer to me than life itself, a shameful act 
which even his worst enemies would shrink from polluting 130 
their hand* with?" But Rama's heart was, if possible, more 
serene and joyful in that there was offered him a chance of 
piaciag before the world an example of 5 filial duty* His 
{ace was a faithful index of his heart, and showed not the 
ie*3t siga of gnef, anger Qr disappointment Never ,fora 135 


moment did the thought cross his mind " What grievous in- 
justice ? What a dreadful irony of fate ! This crown is mine 
by right of birth- My father promised it to me before the 
world. And now, at the last moment, I am to lose it, to 
140 S* ve m y consent, without a pang, to see the son of my step- 
mother seated on the throne, to renounce with a smiling 
face the comforts, the luxuries, the wealth, pomp and power 
of what I was taught to expect as legitimately mine and 
doom myself to a living death in the dreadful forests for four- 
teen livelong years." Verily, no orit would speak in the same 
breath of misery or unhappiness and the supreme Lord, one 
of the gems in whose radiant crown is infinite Bliss, 



AMA lent a joyful ear to the words of Kaikeyi 
that ruined his brightest hopes and blotted out 
5 for ever the happy future that was opening out to him. 
He clasped his hands in profound reverence to his mother 
and said " My queen ! On my eyes and ears be it. I take 
myself to the dark forests and live the life of a hermit, with 
matted hair, deer skin and bark of trees. Is it not my bound- 

10 en duty to fulfil my father's promise ? But, the king knows 
me better than myself ; no misfortune or calamity has the 
least power to shake his iron will ; the flower of valor and 
heroism, I wonder that he evinces not his usual joy and 
delight at beholding me. I am all anxious to know why. 

JK But, I pray you entertain not the least suspicion about my 
willingness to keep my word, I swear it before you once 
again most solemnly. / go to the dark forests to lead the 
life <tf a hermit, withmatted hair, clad in deer-skin and bark 
of trees. His Majesty is the most watchful guardian of rny 


interests. I have sat at his feet and learned the truth of life 20 
and being. He is the lord and ruler over us. Ingratitude 
was never associated with his name, much less towards 
you. Is it not my most joyful duty to obey his behests with* 
out question, without hesitation, at any cost ? But, one 
thought rankles in my heart. Why did I not re- g5 
ceive the order for Bharata's coronation from the lips 
of his Majesty ? Was he anxious to spare me any 
probable pain of disappointment ? If so, he forgets 
that Bharata is my brother. Knows he of any one 
who loves Bharata more ? When I broke the bow of o/\ 
Siva in the hall of Janaka and won Seetha as the price of 
valor, would I not have most joyfully resigned my claims 
to her in his favour, if Bharata had but expressed a wish ? 
This mighty kingdom, this wealth, nay, my life itself, I hold 
but valuable only so far as they are of service to him. Then, 35 
my father and lord has himself laid his commands 
on me that I should see the crown placed on the 
brows of Bharata. It is a most sacred duty with me 
to fulfil his promises to you ; your inclination too runs 
that way. Are not these reasons enongh ? Alas ! My hear t ^Q 
bleeds to see His Majesty hang his stately head in sorrow 
a$d gnef, dropping scalding tears on the affrighted earth. I 
pray you to anyhow soothe away his grief. Let countless 
messengers ride fast on fleet coursers to the capital of the 
lord of the Kekayas to bring back Bharata as his majesty >.e 
has ordered. I go straight from here to the forests of Dan- 
daka and live there for ten years and four. Would I think 
twice about obeying my father's commands ?" 

Kaikeyi knew full well that Rama never went back 
upon his word ; he was as good as gone to Dandaka. Her ~Q 
heart rejoiced greatly and she did her best to hurry him on. 
11 You are ever right. Let messengers hasten on fleet 
coursers even now to bring back Bharata from his ijncle's 


capital It does not befit you to delay here, and you so 

55 eager to go to the forests. So, you do well to hasten your 
departure to Dandaka, It is but the sense of shame that 
prevents His Majesty from ordering you himself. Let it not 
lie heavy upon your heart. I know full well that he bathes 
not nor breaks his fast unless he sees you depart for the 

60 woods". 

Dasaratha was shocked beyond conception at these 
cruel words and crying " A^s ! what horrible iniquity ? 
What have I done that my ears should be polluted with 
such foul accusations 1 ?, he fell in a dead faint on his bed 

65 of gold. Rama sprang to his side and caught him in his 
arms, while the cruel words of Kaikeyi lashed him, like a 
spirited steed, to hasten his departure to the forests. But, 
the slightest shadow of grief never dimmed the bright 
serenity of his soul. tl My queen ! You do me but ill 

70 justice to think that my heart hankers after wealth, pomp 
and power. Far be it from my thoughts to remain here, 
to win the love and affection of the people and rule 
over them. Methinks you to read my stay here to mean 
If I manage to stay here till Bharata comes, who knows 

75 that he may renounce the crown in my favor out of his love 
and devotion to me?' My acts, my words, my thoughts 
centre round one desire and only one to fulfil my dharma, 
I pray you to lay to your heart well that the hollow 
joys of life have no power over me and that I am as 

80 dispassionate as the sages that abide in the holy forests. 
I pray you remember carefully that I hold my life of value 
only so far as it serves to fulfil His Majesty's pleasure. 
Know I of any higher dharma than to wait on the pleasure 
of my father and serve him in thought, word and deed ? It 

85 needs not the commands of his majesty ; a word from your 
good self, a hint is more than enough to make the forests a 
joyful hotpe for me during twice seven years, No one has a 


more unquestioned right than yourself to dispose of me in 
every way ; I pride myself on being the chosen and privi- 
leged servant of Your Majesty ; yet I find that you have 90 
thought it fit to ask this trifle of my father ; I am tempted 
to think that you allow not the possibility of my possessing 
such noble qualities as magnanimity and truth. Bear with 
me a while till I take leave of my mother and console Seeta. 
I pray you look to the necessary arrangements about Bhara- 95 
ta's succession to the crown and the due discharge of his 
filial duties to our lord. For, it is the dharma sanctified by 
the immemorial usage of my ancestors of happy memory " 
These gentle words, so noble, so generous and so 
utterly unselfish were too much for poor old Dasaratha; 100 
a tempest of grief shook his whole being to its very founda- 
tions. And, he sobbed aloud, while burning tears coursed 
down his aged cheeks, Then Rama touched, all reverently, 
the feet of his sire utterly senseless with grief and of the 
diabolical Kaikeyi, went round them in low humility and 105 
walked out of the women's apartments No shadow ot grief 
or anger or disappointment or annoyance dimmed the bright- 
ness of his looks , he took his way to his pal ice while his 
Iriends followed him in a\ved silence At his heels went 
Lakshmana in terrible wrath, hissing like a wounded cobra no 
and powerless to keep back his fast flowing tears. One should 
go round in reverence, rare articles, auspicious objects, fanes 
of gods, and crossings, even as the Books lay it down ; 
hence, Rama went round the materials ready stored against 
Ins coronation. He would not so much as glance at 115 
them ; but passed on slowly, praying hard all the 
while that they might be better utilized in the coming 
coronation of Bharata. The dark night has no power 
to dim the beauty of the moon, ever the bright brin- 
ger of joy to all ; even so, the loss of a crown and the 120 
unrighteous banishment from his kingdom had no power 


to dim the glory of the Lord of the worlds, of whom eternal 
and boundless Bliss is one of his attributes. His heart put 
awav from itself a proffered throne and sway over the broad 

125 earth and elected to live a life of dreary exile in the track- 
less forests ; verily, the souls of the great sages and saints 
were not more serene, dispassionate and unshaken, He 
gently refused the umbrella of state, the chamaras and the 
other insignia of royalty and proceeded on foot to the 

130 mansion of his mother to info m her of the sad news. He 
dismissed, with a smile, his friends and loving citizens and 
kept his senses under stern restraint ; he grieved to see, 
others grieve for him, but would not allow the least sign of it 
to escape him. Those around him were unable to detect any 

135 change in his face or looks or words or demeanour ; he was, 
as ever, the lord of Sree and the flawless champion of truth. 
He lost nothing of his innate cheerfulness of heart, even as 
the autumn moon whose brightness wanes not. Undisturbed 
by joy or sorrow, unparalleled in fame, Rama was still the 

140 g iver f boundless pleasure and happiness to all beings and 
spoke sweet words and kind to a'l around him And so, he 
passed on to his mother's palace. 

Lakshmana, his heroic brother and Ins peer in noble 
excellences, followed him there, exercising an iron control 

145 over his rebellious grief, Rama beheld there groups of 
men and women rejoicing in the anticipated happiness of 
his coronation and said to himself with a sigh "Alas ! that 
I should be the messenger of grief and many other calami- 
ties to these my friends who are now so happy ! I should 

150 exercise the utmost vigilance and control lest I betray 
the least sign of grief in my features or behaviour, and these 
good souls die of a broken heart " And so saying, he 
entered the apartments of the queen with a cheerful smile. 




AMA left the apartments of Kaikeyi with bowed head 
and clasped hands while doleful cries and heart-rend- 
ing lamentations followed him from the assembled women 5 
therein. " Alas 1 Rama needed not the word of his father to 
attend, to the veriest detail, to the comfort and happiness of 
every one of us here. Rama is to be driven to the gloomy 
forests to-day and he, the Goal of the aspirations of all beings 
and the surest Means thereto He waits upon our pleasure 10 
with greater diligence, devotion and respect than he ever 
accords to Kausalya, the mother that gave him birth. Harsh 
speech provokes him not to reply; nor do his acts or words 
provoke anger in others ; nay, his sweet and gentle accents 
soothe and calm the hearts of such as give way to senseless 15 
wrath. Our king has clean taken leave of his senses. Has he 
not set his hand to the glorious work of universal ruin and 
destruction by banishing to the woods Rama, in whom all 
things live and move and have their being?" And they lifted 
their voices aloud, gentle and simple, queen and maiden 20 
and cried ' Fie' and ' Shame ' upon the monarch. The 
frightful clamour from the apartments of the women 
fell upon the ears of Dasaratha ; his feeble heart, 
stricken till then with the griet of his son banished to a 
grievous doom, broke down quite, and he fainted away 25 
where he sat, from griet and bhame. The pititul wail fell 
upon the ears of Rama as he passed out ; it grieved his heart 
sore, but as he saw no means of assuaging their griefs, he 
put on a cheerful front, that he might not, at least, intensify 
them. Heaving hot and profound sighs, like a wounded 30 
elephant, he never lost his presence of mind, but quicken- 
ed his steps to his mother's palace followed by Lakshmana*^ 


The chief of the wardens there was a very old gentleman ; 
he sat there in his place of office, wand in hand, while count- 

35 less subordinates stood round in deep reverence. They 
sprang up in joy to welcome Rama and shouted l Victory ! 
Ever victory to thee'. He passed on into the second block 
filled with brahmanas profoundly versed in the sacred scrip- 
tures, whom Dasaratha delighted to honor. Rama saluted 

40 those aged repositories of samthness and wisdom and passed 
on to the third block guarded by elderly dames and dam- 
sels. They gave him their * sincere and joyful blessings 
and announced his approach to Kausalya. 

The queen spent the long night in fast and meditation 

45 to secure peace and prosperity tu her darling son. At day- 
break she engaged herself in reverent worship of the lord 
Vishnu. Ever occupied with vows, fasts, penances, mortifi- 
cations and meditation, she was in the sacrificial hall, where 
Rama found her clad in garments of white ^ilk, directing the 

50 brahmanas in making offerings of auspicious things into the 
fire with appropriate chanting of the mantras. Curds, colored 
unbroken rice, ghee, sweets, cocked food, parched grain, 
white garlands, sweet drinks, tood prepared with sesamurn 
seed, sacred twigs for fuel, a water jar and the other neces- 

55 sary materials stood in readiness for divine service. She was 
offering libations of water to the gods to ensure welfare 
and happiness to her son, and was wholly absorbed in the 
details thereof. Her frame was wasted through constant 
observance of vows and fasts, but bright was the halo of 

60 l r y ^at surrounded her, even as a goddess. She was over- 
joyed to see her son in her rooms, a rare visitor there and 
sprang to meet him, even as a mare her fond foal. Rama 
went round his mother in reverence, bowed low and touch- 
ed her feet, Kausalya embraced him fondly, smelt the 

gg crown of his head and her supreme love and affection for 
him lound expression in hearty and sincere prayers for his 


good. " May length of days, boundless fame and the 
proper observance of the royal traditions crown you ever, 
even as your ancestors of glorious memory, righteous, noble 
and grey in the experience of years. Your father was never 70 
known to break his word. This day he will instal you as 
the heir-apparent, even as he promised it to you. For, is he 
not deeply versed in the knowledge and practice of the my- 
steries of dharma ? She offered him a seat and invited him 
to dine there. 75 

Modest and unassuming by nature, Kama's extreme de- 
votion to his mother would not allow him to take his seat 
before her. He touched it instead and replied to her 
with folded hands and with the least tinge of shame-faced- 
ness in his voice. " Mother ! A great fear has befallen us 80 
that will cause no small grief and anxiety to you, to Seeta 
and to Lakshm,ina. The king has given orders to stop my 
coronation and instal Bharata in my place. I am ordered 
to live for fourteen years in the forests of Dandaka I go 
straight from here and that now. I have come to take 85 
leave of you. I have resolved to dwell in the uninhabited 
wilds, feeding upon honey, roots and fruits, even as the 
hermits and abstaining from the flesh of animals. What have 
I to do with these seats curiously wrought with priceless dia- 
monds? The Vishtara is more meet for one of my order," 99 

The cruel words fell like a thunder-bolt on Kausalya 
and she fainted away from excess of grief, even as a huge 
Sala tree in the forest cut down by the axes of woodmen, 
or even as a Shining One hurled down to the earth from the 
Mansions ot Light. Rama sprang towards her and raising 95 
her all gently in his arms, chafed her wasted limbs, as she 
lay like ati uprooted plantain tree or like a mare who rolls 
in the dust to shake off the fatigue that comes of being over 
burned Soon she regained consciousness ; a stranger to 
sqch calamities, fitted in every way to enjoy the utmost joy 100 


and happiness that life can gwe, and brought up in the very 
lap of wealth, luxury and power, she bitterly complained 
of her fate. " Darling 1 1 am sure that all this grief would 
not have befallen me were you not born to me as my son. 

105 A barren women has no other sorrow than that of childless- 
ness. I sink under the heavy load of manifold misfortunes. 
I have a son, but I have him not. I spent over him years 
of care and solicitude, but I live to see the work of my 
hands undone before my eyes. I counted upon your 

110 devoted service to me in my last days ; I fondly hoped that 
your hands will close mine eyes before they take leave of 
the light of the sun ; but I live to see you violently torn 
away from me in my helpless old age, The curse of child- 
lessness has practically come back upon me to dog my 

115 dying days. Alas! A barren wile has only the disease of 
her heart to grapple with ; but heart, mind, senses, body, 
all are hopelessly consumed by my grief, 

" To the world I am the queen consort of Dasaratha 
of Ayodhya, the lord of the earth ; but, devoid of the wealth, 

120 the power and the pomp that make it a reality. My 
husband's heart is turned away from me. Your birth 
gave me a new lease cf life c.nd instilled fresh hope in my 
heart that I might get back a husband's love and queenly 
power through his supreme affection to you. That has been 

125 the mam spring of my life. Alas ! Grief more intense, 
greater than I have expenened till now, is my portion till 
death. Denied of the joy and comfort that is mine by right, 
I have to endure the cruel words and wanton indig- 
nities from the other wives of my husband Favorites of 

130 fickle fortune, a king's fancy or whim has raised them to 
where they stand now, co-wives with me and rivals for my 
husband's love. They have poisoned my lord's heart and shut 
me out from the light of his affection. Well. Did they keep 

;, it back till now? They but hinted, suggested ; but hereafter 


they would thrust their insolence upon my face and cry in 185 
scorn and fury ' Get away. Darken not the presence of 
my lord '. Or they may adopt a tone of ridicule and say 
'Surely, a barren woman is, by nature, fitted to be the centre 


of feasts and pageants? ' Or, when the monarch chances to be 
my guest, they will burst on us with envy and drag him away 140 
thence by force crying < What do you do here ? Know you 
not that your place is in my rooms ?' Their birth, their status 
and their talents do not in the least give them courage to 
speak such words to me, were it not for the cruel blow dealt 
by Fortune to my honor and happiness. Women do not 145 
survive such shocks. Before me stretches a wh ole eternity 
of grief and tears, unparalleled, unutterable. Behold! 
they whelm me quite and you are by my side the 
flower of valor, my first-born and the next in the order of 
succession to the throne of the Earth. Just imagine what 150 
it would be like when you arc nwav. Death, natural or 
violent, would be a merciful boon. Every day finds my hus- 
band colder to me. Destined by birtti and by fortune to 
lord it over the earth and its countless millions, here am I 
placed, by sufferance, in the same level as tlie waiting 1 155 
women of Kaikeyi, Nay, not so ; for, they at least come 
in for a share of her favour. 

" If there chance to be any well-rneaning soul who was 
devoted to me and spoke to me words of hope and cheer, he 
will avoid me like a pestilence, lest Kaikeyi's son might 160 
punish him cruelly for it. Kaikeyi has never a kind look or 
a word for me ; cruel taunts and cutting sarcasms wer 
ever known to fall from her lips where I was concerned ; 
and now this last and cruellest stroke of misfortune delivers 
me over to her, body and soul. Have I the heart to brave 165 
her frowns? It is seventeen years since I saw your sweet face 
and derived marvellous patience to bear my cross. My Rama 
will grow to be a youth ; he will take his place on the throne 


of his father ; and then my sorrow sets for ever, But, 

170 alas ! my hopes are nipped in the bud ; the gibes and the 
jeers of my rivals would pierce my wound heart ; and 
how long can this poor wasted frame bear those refined 
torments ? And it is a night that knows no morn. 

" Youth, health and beauty have passed away from me. 

175 I can be nothing but an eye-sore to tie king. I am sure 
that it is not in me to live tins dog's life of misery and 
disgrace without the light of your sweet presence to relieve 
the awful gloom. 

" Verily, this is a dark mystery, that the countless fasts, 

180 vows, observances, and prayers, all directed to one end, your 
happiness and prosperity, have borne no fruit. My sweet 
hopes have turned to dust and ashes in my mouth ; the glori- 
ous future that dawned on my expectant sight has suddenly 
darkened into a gloDm ominous and terrible. Well, I 

185 must even reap what I sowed. I made the bed and must 
perforce he upon it. My heart breaks not under the stress 
and strain of this mighty calamity that comes upon me all 
on a sudden, even as a roaring flood that rushes down 
during the rains along the bed of some broad river, while 

19U the solid banks crumble into powder. Is it imperishable ? 
Is this attenuated frame of mine really made of the heart 
of the adamant that it is grief-proof ? It is then true that 
death comes not upon a man a second sooner or later than 
its time. Or has death forgotten me ? Or is the world of 

195 Yama full to overflowing and there is no room for me ? 
Would that the dread lord of Death bear me away hence 
this very moment, even as the king of the beasts carries 
away a weeping fawn or doe. If there is the least chance 
of our being blessed with death and oblivion before our 

200 time, I would go straight from here to the mansions of 
Yama, than live on miserably down here, even as a cow 
violently deprived of her one calf. 


"Alas ! A cry in the wilderness, a seed sown on rocks 
has been all my worship, meditation, charity and penance 
to secure lasting happiness and power to my darling boy. 205 
This is the most unkindest cut of all. * 

" My place is not here when you are in the woods and 
I will even follow you where you go. A weak and aged cow 
can never be parted from the side of the calf on which its 
hopes and joys rest." Thus moaned and wailed Kausalya 210 
in the utter agony of her grief. Then it came back to her 
that she might have to part from Rama at any time ; her rivals 
will wreak upon her the hoarded vengeance of the long 
past ; Rama was bound by the bonds of truth and was 
absolutely powerless to stretch forth a helping hand ; she 215 
raised her voice and wept aloud, even as a she-kinnari 
who sees her young ones struggling in the toils of the 


" YOU SH VLL NOT GO " (continued) 

|HEN Lakshmana turned to Kausalya, who was lament- 
ing her miserable fate, and spoke to her as became the 
occasion. " Mother ! It seems to me extremely unjust and 5 
improper that Rama should renounce the crown that is his by 
lawful right and go to the forest and all at the bidding of a 
woman. He may say { It is not Kaikeyi's order that sends me 
into exile, but his majesty's. Well, his majesty is tottering 
under the weight of years and hence is beset with fancies 10 
unsuited to his age ; the pleasures of the senses enslave him 
quite. He may say 'A pure heart can set at naught the senses 
and all their wiles 1 ; but his reason is completely unhinged by 
love and passion ; besides, there is that evil-hearted woman 


15 Kaikeyi ever at his elbow, hounding him on to fresh ini- 
quities. Invested with boundless power and wealth, what 
would not the monarch do to win a smile of that siren ? 
4 " If you object that Rama might have deserved the 
punishment by any fault or crime of his, I joyfully challenge 

20 any one in all the worlds to charge Rama with treason 
or treachery or any heinous sin. I see none, not even 
his worst enemy, not even the most abandoned wretch 
that was ever justly punished by him, who would ever raise 
his voice in complaint against Rama, even behind his back. 

25 Then, what chance for any to accuse him to his face ? (I have 
made up my mind to rid this earth of the unworthy ruler of 
Ayodhya. I care not if he is my father, or my king, or hoary 
with age). An ideal father, truly ! He does well to banish 
Rama to the dreadful forests. For, it is a plain fact that 

30 needs no support of inference that Rama excels the very 
gods in purity at heart. His thoughts, words and acts are 
ever set unswervingly on the Path of Right. The happi- 
ness of his people is ever the goal of his ambition ; good 
men and great have had the training of him; he has under 

35 stern control his senses and their ever-fleeting ruler, the 
mind ; he has endeared himself even to Kaikeyi and his 
other enemies ; he is the embodiment of duty and justice ; 
nay, his lawful right to the throne as the eldest son needs 
no other ally* And would any right-minded person banish 

40 him from the kingdom for no reason whatever, on the eve 
of his coronation, towards which he had plighted his faith ? 
I care not for his grey hairs, for the sixty-thousand years 
that have passed over his head* They disgrace him all the 
more ; a slave to lust and passion, abandoned to all sen^ 

45 of shame and decency, this hoary libertine is a blot upon 
good society ; and I am rendering a very great service to 
the cause of morality and justice, if I send him out of the 
world which he befouls with his presence. 


" Let that be. Stranger still it is to see our prince, 
deeply versed in the traditions of royalty, render absolute 50 
obedience to the word of the king in his second childhood, 
a very dilapidated Don Juan ! Brother ! Make yourself 
master of this kingdom before others come to know of this. 
With me at your back, I defy any one in all the worlds to 
approach you. It were easier task to put to flight the dread 55 
god of Death in the lawful discharge of his duty. Let the 
millions here in Ayodhya come against us, old and young, 
Brahmana and Kshatnya ; it is child's play for me to reduce 
this fair city to a howling wilderness in the twinkling of an 
eye. It matters not if Bharata stands before us with his 60 
friends, his allies, and his well-wishers to support him. My 
keen shafts shall send them straight to the realms of death. 
The gentle and the meek are ever insulted and trampled 
upon ; merit is never recognized unless it strongly asserts 
itself. 65 

" I see no injustice, no sin in taking the life of that 
wicked man, our unnatural father, who, at the instigation of 
Kaikeyi, allies himself with our foes and works evil to us, 
Or I would temper justice with mercy and immure him in 
the depths of a dungeon where he may drag on his misera- 70 
bie days, and repent if he can, The Books lay it down that 
our teacher or our father deserves summary chastisement at 
our hands if he is intoxicated with boundless pride and 
is lost to the sense of right and wrong. 

" How dared he promise this kingdom to Kaikeyi 75 
when it is yours by every right, human and divine, when he 
knows that he has no right to alienate it ? Did he count upon 
his valour and that of his armies to chase you from here ? 
Or, is he resolved to fulfil his word to Kaikeyi at any cost ? 
Let him know that it is utterly and absolutely impossible, 80 
now and for ever. What a mighty hero he is to hope to 
defeat Rama and his devoted servant Lakshmana and place 


Bharata on the throne of the Kosalas ! Mother ! Rama is 
my brother ; he is the object of my reverence and sincere 
85 love ; and here I solemnly swear on the truth that I hold 
dear, on the bow that I wield, on the gifts I have bestowed 
in charity, on the worship I have offered to the bright gods, 
that it matters not whether Rama betakes himself to the 
dark woods or leaps into the heart of the raging fire, but 

90 you will find me there before him. Mother ! It shall be my 
care to place my valour and prowess at your service and 
put away grief and anxiety from you, This day, my brother 
and yourself will behold the might of my arm." 

Kausalya heard him out with renewed hope and joy 

95 and, with a troubled heart and faltering voice, said " Rama, 
my darling ! Heard you the words that fell from the lips of 
your brother Lakshmana ? They need no comment and I 
leave it to your good sense to act as seems best. You may 
say ( A father's words are a law to his son.' But, is this your 

100 father's command ? Nay, it is but the insidious instigation 
of Kaikeyi, my rival and the evil genius of our king. 
Besides, it is all opposed to reason, to right and to justice. 
Is it kind of you, is it dutiful, to abandon me to my enemies, 
helpless, alone and stricken with grief and misfortune ? 

105 " Law and duty have no mysteries for you. You have 
set your heart upon fulfilling the dharma of carrying out 
your father's commands. But know you not that there is a 
higher dharma than that ? The Books teach us that the 
mother is the highest and most reverent object that a 

110 man can have in this world So, stay with me and devote 
yourself to my service. I can assure you that there is no 
higher dharma, none more imperative. Kasyapa of yore, 
stayed with his mother and rendered her faithful service and 
loving, with restrained self ; his noble tapas was rewarded 

115 with the high regions of light and he took his place among 
the Patriarchs (Prajapatis). As your father is to you, so ami. 


He is worthy of your love and reverence, and so am L Hjs 
word is law unto you, and so is mine. Now, I like not 
your banishing yourself to the forests of Dandaka; 
you can never have my consent to it. What joy have I in 120 
life apart from you ? Life itself is a curse to me unless I 
spend it by your side. I count it a privilege and pleasure 
to be with you though I feed upon grass. If you ever leave 
my side when I am assailed by misfortune and calamity, I 
will starve myself to death. The Ruler of the Waters once 125 
had the misfortune to grieve the heart of his mother and 
expiated that lapse of filial duty by bitter experience of the 
hells that are reserved for the slayers of brahmanas ; and 
eternal misery shall be your lot here on earth." 

The heart-rending laments of his mother had no power 180 
to seduce Rama away from the Path of Duty and he 
replied all gently " On me lies the duty of obeying the 
commands of my sire ; my fealty to you weighs with me 
no less. But it is impossible for me to do it simulta- 
neously. Besides, my father's orders have the advantage 135 
of priority and demand my immediate attention; I dare 
not set them aside. So I go to the forest and pray you, 
with my head at your teet, give me your leave and your 
blessings. Do I seem to pierce your wounded heart ? 
Maharshi Kandu,of yore, slew a sacred cow at the commands 140 
of his father ; and was he unacquainted with the intricacies 
of Dharma ? Was he not an ascetic of stern vows ? I take 
another instance nearer and more pertinent. King Sagara 
of our line, once laid his orders on his sixty thousand sons to 
tear up this broad and fair earth. They obeyed his behests 145 
to the very letter and recked not that they were consumed 
to ashes in the execution of their duty. My father demands 
of me no such sacrifice of my life, though it is his to 
dispose of as he wills ; he but requires me to spend a trifling 
period of fourteen years in the forests of Dandaka. And shall 150 


I, all cravenly, cry upon it as a great hardship ? Jamadagni 
ordered his son to lop off the head of the mother that bore 
him ; and did Parasurama waver or flinch ? Shall I prove 
a traitorous and unworthy son to my sire, lest I should 

155 cause you grief of heart for a while ? Have we not instances 
of many a god-like son who carried out his father's behests 
at any cost ? Is it sinful of me to try to walk in their path i 
Am I the solitary pilgrim on it ? Have I not their example, 
their countenance and their sanction to cheer me on ? It is 

160 no new hobby of my invention. It is the law of man and it 
is no rare merit in me if I fulfil it. I will sacrifice any thing 
to spare you the slightest pang ; but since I can not, consis- 
tent with the discharge ot my duty, I console myself with 
the hope that no one has come to grief till now, who happen- 

165 ed to cause some grief to his mother, in carrying out his 
father's commands." 

Unrivalled in persuasive eloquence as in valor, he next 
addressed himself to Lakshmana and said " Brother mine ! 
You do me but scant justice to think I know not your bound- 

170 less love and devotion to me, your prowess, your fortitude, 
and your all-consuming energy. My mother grieves sorely, 
all forgetful of the inner mysteries of truth and peace. Sure- 
ly, it ill becomes you to speak thus and you deeply versed 
in the secrets of Dharma ! Truth is deeply implanted in 

175 Dharma ; hence it is the most coveted of the Purusbar- 
thas (Aims of Life). I secure it best by obeying my father's 
behests in preference to those of my mother, No one can 
set out to walk on the Way of Right and fail to fulfil his pro* 
raise to his father or to mother or to the saintly Brahmanas. 

180 Kaikeyi but passed me on the order of my father that I 
should dwell in the forests ; and who am I to say nay ? So, put 
away far from you the cruel instincts of a fanatic Kshatriya, 
that puts you up to say ' Let us slay this old man, our father, 
and rule over his kingdom,' You are no blind atheist to 


take kingly polity as the guide of your life, even when it leads 185 
away from the Path of Dharma. Nor are you fool enough to . 
follow Dharma, when it leads you away from the Path of 
Compassion and Love. You never knew me to lead you 

So spoke he out of deep love for his brother ; anon, he 190 
bowed to Kausalya over joined palms of respect and said 
" Mother ! Is it not immemorial Dharma that you, I, 
Seeta, Lakshmana and Sumitra abide by the commands of 
my father ? His orders demand my immediate attention ; 
and I will dwell for twice seven years in the pleasant woods. 195 
Next come your behests; and I will thereafter wait upon you, 
ever rendering true service and joyful A brief spell of hard- 
ship and rough life for me ; and my word to my father 
kept,I fly here on the wings of speed to touch your feet, even 
as King Yayati, who was banished but for a while from his 200 
bright abode in the god-world to this dark and dull earth of 
ours. Hence, I pray you master your grief and give me 
leave to go. Direct the auspicious rites that would secure us 
a safe journey and happy and bring me back to your side. I 
entreat it upon my very life. Order the preparations towards 205 
my coronation to proceed no further ; put away your grief and 
sorrow from the eyes of the world ; and let me have your 
leave to speed to the forest that Dharma might find in me 
a loyal servant." 

Rama's eloquent pleading, so consonant with virtue 210 
and duty, so respectfully firm, so utterly devoid of any sel- 
fish grief or disappointment, proved too much for 
Kausalya and she fainted undjr the shock. Regaining 
her senses after a while, she looked Rama in the eye and 
cried l Child ! Do I not deserve at least as much love and 215 
obedience at your hands as you owe your father ? Flesh of 
my flesh you are. I bore you in my womb and watched 
you grow from infancy jto youth, Doesjt : not courif any* 


thing? You see my unspeakable misery and yet you will 

220 leave me here, alone and helpless, to the tender mercies of 
my relentless foes. Do you expect me to give my consent 
to it ? What is life to me in this world if you are not by my 
side ? What care I to dwell in the radiant worlds of joy 
or of the Fathers or of the gods ? An hour with you is 

225 worth eternities in those spheres. " 

Elephant-hunters take their stand during dark nights 
across its paths and seek to drive it back towards the 
treacherous pits, by threatening it with blazing torches, only 
to enrage it afresh, without turning it from the track it had 

230 marked out for itself. Even so the pitiable laments of his 
mother but roused him to fresh energy and firmness, in that 
she would not yet desist from dragging his feet from the Path 
of Dharma. He saw his beloved mother senseless with 
grief ; he saw his brother Lakshmana writhe under the tor- 

235 ments of impotent anger and valor; yet, his heart never waver- 
ed, not for a second, in its loyal allegiance to Dharma ; and 
his words to Kausalya were in perfect consonance therewith. 
Duty, equally imperative and just, but conflicting, hemmed 
him on every side ; and he hesitated not for a moment to 

240 choose the best and follow it with unshaken resolve. And 
the countless worlds cannot furnish another who could 
take his place by the side of Rama, the beloved of all beings. 
Such words fall fitly and gracefully from his lips, and from 
no other, " Lakshmana ! You force me to remind you that 

245 I know and appreciate best your whole-souled devotion to 

4 me and your matchless valor. But you force me also to say 

that you and my dear mother cause me fruitless annoyance 

and trouble by your wilful blindness to my inner motives. 

Hear me place before you at some length what I hinted to 

250 you just now. A wife secures to her husband Dharma, if 
she acts in consonance with the laws of his life ; she secures 
to him Love, if she deserves to find a place in his 


heart ; she secures to him wealth, if she is the mother erf an 
exemplary son ; thus one and the same woman helps a man 
to achieve three Aims of Life. These are said to be the surest 255 
means to attain the happiness that accrues of Dharma. Or, 
in other words, do your Duty to the best of your lights and 
you are master of the above means. Take my word for 
it that this is utter truth and beyond the shadow of a doubt 
None should waste his time ^pd energy over anything 260 
that leads him not straight to the Three Purushar- 
thas. Engage yourself in the conscientious performance 
of that which will secure you Dharma as its result 
The world hates him who seeks wealth at any cost ; nor 
is it seemly devote ourselves solely to the pursuit of 265 
pleasure ; so, let us decide where my line of duty lies 
at present. The king is my Guru, in that I sat at his feet to 
learn the mysteries of the art of War and the science of 
Polity ; he is my monarch under the shadow of whose 
protecting arm I live in peace and happiness ; he is my 270 
father who brought me into the world ; his great age and 
ripe experience deserve my utmost respect ; if such a one 
commands me any thing, be it out of love or anger or self- 
interest, would any one, who knows the inner mysteries of 
Dharma that a plighted word should always be followed by 275 
the fulfilment thereof, go back upon his promise, unless a 
cruel heart goes before crueller deeds ? I have no talents 
that way ; I seek to carry out, to my best, the promise made 
by my sire, 

" He is our lord and of my mother too; he is the highest 28flT 
goal of her aspirations ; he is the surest guide to lead her 
to the worlds of the Blessed . He is ruling over this vast realm ' " 
for many thousands of years more justly, more righteously, 
than his glorious predecessors ; is it seemly, is it decent for 
my mother to come away with me, as if she were any 
ordinary woman, helpless, friendless, as if she were a wife 


widowed of her Icrd and protector ? Mother, I go to the 
forest ; pray give me leave. Engage yourself in such 
auspicious rites as will ensure us a safe return to your side. 

290 King Yayati was banished from heaven, but was restored to 
it through his unshaken allegiance to Truth ; even so I 
shall come back to you safe and happy at the end of four- 
teen years. It is not in me to sacrifice unparallelled fame 
to kingly rule and power, won of unrighteousness. Our 

295 life here on earth is but a lightning Sash in the dark cloud 
of Eternity ; and far be it from me the desire to be the lord 
of the earth and stain my hands with this crime." 

So the ruler of men consoled his weeping mother and 
resolved to start at once to the forests of Dandaka in obedi- 

300 ence to the words of Kaikeyi ; he explained to Lakshmana 
the motives that lay behind the course of action adopted by 
him and prepared himself to go round his mother in reverent 
salutation and have her leave to depart. 



AMA was the absolute master of his thoughts and 
emotions ; omnipotent Lord of the worlds, his iron 
5 will never allowed the least sign of it to escape him. None 
lay nearer to his heart than Lakshmana ; he was never very 
remarkable for patience under restraint ; angry fires shot 
from his eyes, as from the red mouth of a volcano ; he 
hissed forth burning sighs, even as an infuriated lord of ser- 
10 pents. Yet Rama forgave him all, forgot all ; was he not his 
brother, his friend and companion, the darling of his heart 
and sore-stricken with grief ? So he turned to him and said 
" Lakshmana ! What has become of your wondrous self- 
control and marvellous fortitude ? Your indignation at the 


king's conduct and your poignant grief on my account, bury 15 
them deep, fathoms deep in your heart. Say not, 'What ! 
on the eve of your coronation, when every thing is ready 
towards it and the joyful millions on the tip-toe of expec- 
tation ! Unspeakable shame it were if the installation does 
not come off '. It is not due to any fault of ours, to any want 20 
of courage or valor on our part. Rather should we rejoice 
greatly that we are chosen to fulfil our father's promise and 
win for him the seats of the righteous. So, stay the prepara- 
tions that are afoot towards my consecration and busy your- 
self with such things as will enable me to carry out our 25 
father's behests. Let me see you as enthusiastic and active 
in making the necessary arrangements for my departure to 
the forest, as you are now in bringing about my coronation. 
My mother grieves overmuch that I am prevented from 
sitting on the throne of the Ikshvakus ; she doubts my 30 
safe return after fourteen years. Assure her that it is but 
a light task for Rama to fulfil his promise to his father and 
return from the forest in no time ; she need not vex herself 
for such a trifle. Wipe away her tears and bring peace and 
consolation to her pained heart ; for I cannot bear to see her 35 
doubt and suffer, 

I never knew till now what it is to cause the slightest 
grief or worry to my father or my mothers. Our father 
ever speaks truth ; he never goes back upon his promise ; 
endowed with a might and valor that never fails its purpose, 40 
he might be induced to doubt whether the high worlds of 
the gods are open to him if his plighted word is not kept ; 
and is it not our sacred duty to keep away from him even 
the faintest suspicion of it ? If my coronation be not can- 
celled, my heart may be pained to think that his sworn word 4o 
to Kaikeyi goes for nothing; and it will wring my heart most 
cruelly. So I wish to stop the preparations towards my 
consecration and start to the woods this very moment 

Let the daughter of the Kekaya monarch see her hopes 
realised and seat her son Bharata on the throne of the 
Ikshvakus. It will do her heart good to see me take ray 

50 way to the forest, clad in deer skin and the bark of trees, 
with my matted hair coiled on my head. Nothing can 
shake my resolve to renounce the throne and seek the dark 
depths of Dandaka. Pain me not further. I assure you I 
put this town behind me and set my face towards the abode 

55 of the saintly rishis. Look sharp. 

Till now, I assigned Dharma as the sole motive of my 

*- actions ; but there is a greater and nobler one. It is not 

Kaikeyi that deprives me of this kingdom nor restores it to 

me at the end of fourteen years, but the Lord, We but 

60 waste our breath in cursing her. The Lord put such a 
notion into her head ; else why should she seek to harm me, 

v , all wantonly as you think ? Know you not that I make no 
difference among my mothers ? Each one of them is as 
much entitled to my love and reverence as she that bore 

65 me. Even so, Kaikeyi makes no difference between me 
and Bharata ; yet, she could speak harsh words and cruel, 
to stop my coronation and banish me to the wild woods* 
Need I seek for any other likelier reason * than that the 
Lord has chosen, for some inscrutable purpose of His, to 

70 change her very nature ? Gifted with many^a natural grace 
of rtiind and heart ; with the blood of noble and mighty 
monarchs in her veins ; adorned with compassion, gene- 
rosity and other excellences that become one of her rank ; 
why should Kaikeyi behave like the meanest of -ber sex, 

75 low-bred, wicked and cruel ? It matters not if she speaks 
so to any other ; but to her lord and husband ! It matters 
not if she sends word through a maid or a slave of hers ; 
but herself and to his very face I Would she ever dream of 
giving utterance to words pregnant with countless woes to 

80 me, upon whom the king and herself have lavished their 


love and care till now, even to the very verge of partiality ? 
Does she suggest it or hint it ? No ; she does not mince 
matters ; she never tires of repeating it. Is it so very & 
difficult to see the finger of the Lord in this ? None dare set ' 
himself up against His will, whose ways are mysterious 
past understanding. I owe it to Him that this crown slips 
from my hands when they are about to grasp it ; I owe it 
to Him that her heart is turned against me quite. Say not 90 
* What is Destiny or Fate when pitted against the might of 
our will ' ? We see it not ; we but trace its course through 
its works. There is no armour against Fate. None care 
to throw themselves before the resistless wheels of its car. 
It underlies all such inscrutable mysteries as joy and 95 
sorrow, serenity and anger, gam and loss, birth and death. 
Mighty sages, such as Visvamitra, bent their dauntless hearts 
and iron wills to stern tapas, agelong and unparalleled. 
They counted without Fate, became the slaves of their 
passions, lost their serenity and peace of heart and ended 100 
by falling headlong from the glorious spiritual heights they 
had scaled through milleniums of travail and effort. It is 
but Destiny that raises before our efforts an impassable 
barrier and saying ' Thus far thou shalt go and no further ', 
directs our energies to some other purpose we never dreamt 105 
of. Full of this conviction, I never allow my peace of heart 
to be ruffled by the gusts of joy or sorrow ; and this coro- 
nation, if it is cancelled, affects me not in the least 

" Do likewise ; put away grief and anger from you; see 
that the preparations towards my installation are stopped* 110 
Let the sacred waters brought from all over the world for my 
consecration bath now serve me for the preparatory rites and 
baths towards my departure to the forests. Nay, not so ; 
perhaps Kaikeyi may come to misconstrue it as a ruse on 
my part to consecrate myself secretly as the ruler of this 115 
realm. |So, I will have nothing to do with these holy waters 


that arc, of a truth, the property of the king, hence of 

" Lakshmana ! Vex not your mind in the least that we 

120 have let this kingdom and its wealth slip through our 
fingers. It is all one to me if I am monarch of the earth or 
an humble recluse of Dandaka. On better thoughts, a 
forest life is absolutely free from the cares, the misfortunes 
and the sins that beset a ruler's path ; the rarest object of 

125 God's creation meet our eyes there on every side. Hence I 
prefer a life in the green woods to an uneasy throne. 

" Lakshmana ! I tell you what. No one knows better 

the boundless might of Destiny. It sits at the heart of 

' Kaikeyi and prompts her to speak harsh and cruel words 

130 to us. Now, is it charitable of us to think that she had a 

hand in stopping my coronation ? " 


AKSHMANA never raised his eyes from the ground, 
a sure sign that Rama's skillful arguments failed 
5 to make any impression upon him, He was divided bet- 
ween the conflicting emotions of joy that his brother was 
firm as a rock in his adherance to dharamaand grief that he 
had to renounce the throne. His feelings never found 
expression in words ; and the next moment banished even 
10 such .thoughts from his mind. His brow was knotted and 
wrinkled in ominous frowns like an infuriated lion ; he 
hissed forth burning sighs hke a dread serpent in his narrow 
prison ; he moved his bead up and down, as if following 
the rising waves of his wrath ; his fingers twined and 
i untwined themselves aimlessly like the trunk of a mighty 


elephant ; he shot a glance from beneath his dark brows at 
Rama and said u It is all unseemly of you to exhibit such 
excitement and manifest pleasure in your exile to the 
woods. I understand you to say * If I fulfil not my father's 
word to Kaikeyi, it is a crime against dharma. The people 20 
will naturally doubt my readiness and willingness to pro- 
tect them when I make light of my father's commands. ' 
Weaklings, cowards, lunatics and the scum of the Kshatriya 
race lay themselves down before Destiny to be trampled 
upon and kicked about. But, you are the flower of valor 25 
and royalty ; you need no extraneous help to set aside 
the might of Destiny ; your head is ever cool and your heart 
ever calm ; then, is it just of you to laud overmuch this 
puny Desfiny and call it omnipotent, unassailable, invinci- 
ble ? Well said Bnhaspati l Destiny is the last refuge of a 30 
coward, nay, their bread-giver '. So, it is justly the god of t 
the impotent. Man's will alone is omnipotent and Destiny 
flees before it. What a worthy theme of praise ! 

11 You apprehend treason against dharma if you fulfil not 
your father's command. But I wonder why you fail to har- 35 
bour any suspicion of these sinful creatures, Dasaratha and 
Kaikeyi, that seek your ruin and destruction. I will not 
have you say 'Are they not loyal servants of dharma ?' The 
world is full of such scoundrels who are adepts in the art 
of biding their cruelty and wickedness under the cloak of 40 
loyalty to dharma. Your pure and innocent heart never 
suspects them, but sees in them its own reflection. Why 
do you not understand that it is a preconcerted scheme of 
theirs to prevent your coronation ? If they had not set about 
it long ago, why should Kaikeyi put off so unconsciously 45 
long the two boons granted to her thousands of years ago ? 
Let me sketch you their plot. Says Dasaratha to his fellow 
conspirator 'Rama is, by a cruel misfortune, my first-born ; 
and as such, has a lawful claim to this kingdom. But you 


50 know that my heart is set upon placing your son on the 
throne. Alas ! the obstinate people would not sit quiet and 
see a younger brother crowned over the head of the elder. 
Well, let us seek to achieve our ends another way. I will 
solemnly promise before the assembled millions, high and 

55 low, to place Rama on the throne. Next you come into 
the game and imperiously and relentlessly demand the two 
boons I granted you of yore. I fume and I rage, I rave 
and I swear, I weep and I entreat, I curse and I scream,; 
but I give in after a well-stimulated fight, Rama will be 

gQ banished to the wild woods for long years and Bharata will 
rule over the earth/ Find me any one on earth who sup- 
ports the succession of a younger brother to the throne over 
the head of the elder. I do not care to sit patiently under 
this injustice. I would have you excuse me. 

65 " You are endowed with the greatest and the keenest 

intellect; but in this affair you are under a misapprehension ; 
a distorted conception of the practice of Dharma makes you 
say 'I will not have this coronation; I will go to the forests; 
else I lay myself open to a heinous sin'. That Dharma of 

70 yours is the object of my special hatred. Dasaratha, the 
king of Ayodhya, is set up by the artful Kaikeyi and speaks 
such words as are inimical to Dharma, and utterly con- 
demned by all people; and you, of inconceivable might and 
invincible valor, bow your head in submission and resolve 

75 to obey his unjust behests. What an impossible chance 1 
Pray pardon me if I attribute this attitude of yours to a 
Slight) though temporary, aberration of your noble intellect. 
It cuts me to the heart to think that you are their dupe and 
take it as gospel their plots and wiles to prevent your coro- 

nation. Find me any one among the millions of this world 
who take your view of the discharge of duty. They are our 
parents ; but to the world, they are, in fact, our bitterest 
and most relentless enemies ; they are sheep under wolf's 


clothing. Slaves to passion and lust, they seek ever our 
ruin and destruction ; and no sane person would ever 85 
dream of obeying their commands. 

41 1 heard you say * Kaikeyi is not to blame, but 
Destiny that put this evil counsel into her heart '; it is a lame 
argument at best and is supremely ridiculous in my 
eyes. I tell you once again that none but cowards and weak- 90 
lings bend themselves before Destiny. It is utterly power- 
less before such heroes and men of iron will as ever have 
their feet on its neck ; it interferes not with their concerns. 
Bear with me yet a while and you will aee an object lesson 
of the comparative merits of Free-will and Destiny. 95 
Man's will shall triumph over Fate and the world will 
learn a profitable lesson that it has wanted for a long time. 
You hold, and many others with you, that your coro- 
nation has been prevented by Destiny. This day you 
will sefc that Destiny flee powerless before my will. Des- 100 
tiny is an elephant in rut that snaps its chains like cobwebs, 
and, all mindless of the sharp goad, lords it over all ; and 
my intellect is the fatal noose that will throw it down and 
drag it powerless and cowed to my feet. The countless 
myriads in the three worlds, with their lords and regents, 105 
are utterly impotent to prevent your coronation ; why speak 
of this puny sire of ours ? ' It is but good sport to hoist 
the engineer on his own petard ' ; and they who plotted in 
secret to prevent your coronation and banish you to the 
gloomy forests, shall, at my word, themselves taste of the 110 
pleasures of a forest life for fourteen years. This day shall 
I nip in the bud their hopes of preventing your installation 
a nd placing the crown on the head of their son Bharata. 
One can afford to brave Destiny and live ; but has any one 
heard of a person brave my anger and yet survive to tell it ? 115 

" You would go to the forest ? Well, you shall go, but 
all in good time; not now, nor for this reason, It is an honor- 



ed tradition among the Ikshvakus that the royal sages rule 
long and happily over their subjects ; when age lays its hand 

120 heavy on them, they decide to lead the life of a hermit and 
make over the kingdom and its cares to their sons, enjoining 
them to watch over the welfare of the people with paternal 
solicitude. Even so will you reign over us long and 
happily for thousands of years and seek the solitudes of 

125 the forests, when your sons shall inherit the kingdom. 

" Do you renounce the crown because our father is a 
creature of impulses, and the kingdom will change hands 
with his moods ? I t|ke it upon myself to protect this realm, 
even as the shores keep the ocean billows within bounds. 

130 Nay, I swear it by every thing I hold most sacred. Let the 
Halls of the Heroes be closed to me in the Heaven-world 
if I fail in my promise. * 

" I pray you turn your thoughts upon crowning yourself 
with the materials gathered thereunto. Alone and unaided, 

135 I am more than a match for any kings that may approach us 
with hostile intent. These long arms of mine, are they for 
show ? The bow in my hands, the sword upon my thigh, the 
quiver at my back, are they toys, or gaudy baubles or 
bravado ? They are meant to exterminate our foes, root and 

140 branch, My heart knows no peace, my arm knows no rest, 
if any one should dare rank himself among my foes and live. 
My sword shall, like chain lightning, strike him down and 
drink his life-blood. I will treat your eyes this day to a 
rare feast My good sword shall lop off the heads, the hands 

145 and the legs of men, horses and elephants until the earth is 
a trackless forest therewith. It shall Sash and wave over 
the fast-falling elephants like a blazing mountain or rain 
clouds dark and heavy, relieved by lambent lightning. Is 
there any one among the countless millions that crowd this 

150 earth, who dare call himself a man and a hero if I but 
stand against him on the field of battle, bow in hand? Would 


they not hide their diminished heads in shame and fear, 
as if they were so many timid women ? Now I will pierce 
a foe with countless arrows in rapid succession ; now I will 
transfix many a foe with a single shaft. I will sheathe my [55 
darts in the vital parts of warriors, horses and elephants. 
So let no shadow of a doubt cross your mind about my 
annihilating my foes alone and unaided. This day the world 
shall see the might and splendour of the divine weapons 
into whose mysteries I have been initiated. I will even \QQ 
pluck the crown from off the unworthy brows of Dasaratha 
and lay it at your feet. These two arm! of mine had till 
now no heavier task than to be smeared with perfumed sand- 
al-paste, deck themselves with gold and gems, give away 
rich gifts and costly and shield my friends and depend- ^55 
ants from harm. Today they shall be engaged in the more 
glorious and congenial task of exterminating those tha^ stand 
in the way of your coronation. What foe of yours shall 
I deprive of life and fame, friends and retainers ? Your 
humble servitor am I, ever awaiting your commands ; what 
shall I do to bring this broad earth under your sway ? " 

And to him replied Rama, the glory of the Ikshvaku 
race, " Child ! The Books lay it down that a person deserves 
the name of a sow (putra) in that his parent's word is a law 
unto him while they are on earth ; he feeds countless men 175 
and women on the anniversary of their departure to the 
seats of the Blessed ; and he makes offerings of food to 
their manes at the holy Gaya, So I will not transgress the 
commands of our sire ; I will fulfil them at any cost. 
Take my word for it that this is the path trod by the good 180 
and great in this world.' 1 

Thus did he explain, but more succinctly, his course 
of action and the duty that lay before him ; he wiped away 
the fast-falling tears of Lakshmana and brought solace and 
consolation to his grieved heart. 185 




>AUSALYA was convinced, beyond a doubt, that 
Rama was indissolubly wedded to his Dharma ; he 
5 would carry out the behests of his father to the letter. She kept 
back her tears, as ill-omened and said " You are the darling 
boy sent to cheer and illumine our old age, myself and your 
sire ; you are a stronger to sorrow and misery ; the soul of 
virtue and justice, you have ever a kind word and a smile 

10 for every one. How would you manage to subsist on the 
niggardly grains of corn scattered far between ? Your ser- 
vants and slaves lead happy lives and feed upon the costly 
food and dainty; how could their lord and master drag on his 
miserable existence in the wild woods with no better fare 

15 than fruits, roots and leaves ? ' Rama is the first-born of 
Dasaratha ; his parent's hopes and aspirations are centred in 
him ; he is crowned with every grace of body and mind ; 
yet his father banished him from the kingdom/ Now, is it 
not past belief, more a fairy tale! Even if any one did believe, 

20 boundless terror would come over him to think that his turn 
might come at anytime. Every object in creation derives its 
life, light and joy from you ; you are driven into exile 
and deprived of your birthright; now, can you find a more 
convincing argument to prove that Destiny is supreme, and 

25 dispenses joy and sorrow to all beings ? The grief of sepa- 
ration from you consumes me quite even as a forest confla- 
gration in autumn. My wasted frame is the forest ; your 
absence from my side is the gale that drives it on ; my 
waitings and laments are the fuel that feed it ; my ever- 

80 flowing tears are the offerings thrown into it ; the 
burning fever of grief in my veins is the smoke that rises 

KAtteAtYA COriSEfoTS 125 

form it ; the efforts that bring together all these are my 
sighs ; and you are the cataract that quenches it. Deprived 
of the welcome waters, this cursed fire grows apace and 
will in no time consume me to ashes. It is no wonder that 35 
a cow follows its calf. Where you go, I follow." * 

But Rama stopped her firmly, yet respectfully and said 
" Nay ; do you not see that my father, already duped and 
humiliated by Kaikeyi, will not long survive if I go to the 
forests and you too abandon him ? It is unspeakable cruelty 40 
in ordinary W)men to quit the side of their husbands ; but 
you, the model of every wifely and womanly virtue, should 
never even dream of it. Your place is by my father' s side 
as long as he abides on earth. This is the dharma of our 
race, sanctified by immemorial usage." 45 

What could Kausalya reply but "Even so be it," and she 
the soul of virtue and duty? Then Rama set about to assuage 
the grief of her heart and give her strength to tread the hard 
path of Duty and Right "Need I remind you that I and your 
good self are bound to obey the behests of our monarch ? 50 
We live under his rule; we owe our life and its comforts to 
his protecting arm; we learn our lessons of virtue and duty 
from him ; he is our ideal of every manly excellence ; his 
age, his valor, his wisdom and his experience demand our 
utmost respect and reverence. These ten years and four shall 55 
I pass away in the pleasant woods as if they were but a 
second, and come back to serve at your feet for ever." 

Kausalya consented all reluctantly to Rama's depar- 
ture to the woods and to her stay at Ayodhya; but the 
recollection of her overmastering love for Rama and the 60 
perversity and wickedness of her co-wives came upon her 
with a rfiighty force and she cried amidst a torrent of scald- 
ing tears " Rama I I cannot, I dare not live in the midst 
of these cruel rivals of mine. Let me go with you and live 
the happy life of the beasts of the forests. I shall be no 65 


drag upon you, no burden. If you are bent upon taking 

yourself to the forests in obedience to the commands of 

your father, take me along with you wherever you go." 

The sight of others' grief and misery was too much for 

70 Rama to bear. But, his iron fortitude repressed all signs 
of it, as he feared it might interfere with tKe discharge of 
his dharma of perfect obedience to his father's com- 
mands. But now that his mother had given her consent to 
his departure to the forests, he desired to soothe her grief 

75 somewhat ; he betrayed the sorrow of his heart by his hot 
tears and said " Women know no other god during their 
life on earth but their husbands, no other lord. Now, his 
majesty is your lord and mine, So long as his protecting 
arm is stretched over us, we have no reason to doubt or to 

80 complain that we are helpless, Further, I see no reason to 
apprehend any harm or annoyance from your co-wives. 
Bharata, that takes my place as the ruler of this realm, 
is the very soul of virtue and righteousness, His 
greatest delight is to embody his ideals in his life ; he has 

85 ever a kind word or a look for every one. And it is no 
wonder that he will devote himself to your service with an 
ever-increasing reverence and love. I charge you to see 
that the king feels not, in the least, the grief of separation 
from me. The snows of age he heavy on his head ; and I 

90 look to you to save him from this fatal grief. Women may 
lay by incalculable merit through vows, penances, fasts 
and mortifications ; but the dark hells of sinners are their 
portion, if they are found wanting in devoted and loving ser- 
vice to their husbands. Worship of the gods, service to the 

95 elders, observances and fasts, they might afford to dispense 
with and yet enter the worlds of light through faithfili service 
rendered to their husbands. The Holy Scriptures and the 
Books teach us that a woman knows no higher dharma than 
service to her husband; and our ancestors have trod this path. 


"I am sure that you will fall a prey to cruel grief if you 100 
keep your thoughts idle and unengaged. So, arrange that 
saintly Brahmanas conduct auspicious rites to secure me 
peace and happiness when abroad and a safe and speedy 
return to you ; offer reverent worship to the gods and the 
Brahmanas with sandal, flowers, and betel. Keep your- 105 
self always occupied with baths, recitations, chants and other 
pious exercises ; live upon pure and innocent diet ; set your 
watchful heart on your lord's service ; and look forward, 
with joyful anticipation, to the day when I shall be with 
you again. Then, you will have the happiness of seeing 110 
that model of virtue and duty, my reverend sire, alive and 
hearty and my humble self come back to your loving arms, 
crowned with honor and glory." 

Tears of grief coursed down the aged cheeks of Kausal- 
ya at the idea of inevitable separation from her darling son 
and she sobbed "You have made up your mind to exile your, 
self to the gloomy forests. Oh ! the marvellous might of Des- 
tiny ! My heart's delight ! I wish you a safe journey and hap- 
py return. May every good go with you. May you triumph 
over your foes. My mother's heait knows no peace, no 
rest, no joy till you are again by my side I live only when 
you come back to me, your plighted word to your sire 
well kept, your heart's hopes realised, and your sweet self 
covered with fame and glory. Inscrutable are the ways of 
Destiny that has hardened your heart to set aside 
my commands, my pleadings and my entreaties and 
to betake yourself to the dreary forest solitudes ! 
Flower of valor ! A safe journey to you and a happy 
one. Come back to me very soon and gladden my heart 
with yoi# honeyed words. Alas ! I cannot endure to take 
my eyes from you for even a moment. Would that this 
passing minute see your glorious return from the forest in 
hermit guise !" She was at last convinced that she was 


powerless to turn him from his stern purpose of exiling him* 
135 self to the dreary forest ; and with all a mother's love, she 
set about to perform the auspicious rites that would ensure 
him safety and happiness during his journey. 



> AUSALYA kept down the heavy sorrow that threa- 
tened to overmaster her, sipped holy water to put 

5 away from her the impurity caused by her tears and lifted 
her heart and voice in a mighty blessing. " Foremost of the 
royal line of Raghu and the best ! Powerless am I to pre- 
vent your exile to the forest ; even go if you must. Come 
back to me at the end of fourteen years and seat yourself on 

10 the throne of your forefathers in conformity with immemo- 
rial usage. May that Dharma watch over you with sleepless 
eye, to the absolute and dutiful service of which you 
have joyfully devoted your life. I place your innocent 
self in the forest under the protection of the gods and 

jg the sages to whom you offer devout worship in the 
crossings and the fanes. May the presiding deities of 
the divine weapons you learnt of Maharshi Visvamitra 
ever guard your noble self. May your devoted service to 
your parents and to the God of Truth whom you reverence, 

20 shield you and lengthen your days on earth. I invoke for 
you the protection of the sacred fuel, the holy grass, the 
sacrificial halls, fanes, hillocks, trees, creepers, stunted trees, 
pools, birds, serpents and lions. Let the Sadhyas, tWe Visve- 
devas, the Maruts, the Maharshis, Dhataand Vidhata, Poosh- 

25 an, Bhagha, Aryama and the other eleven Adityas, the dei- 
ties of the seasons, the fortnights, the months, the years, the 



night, the day and the muhoorthas prosper you ever. May 
meditation, Yoga and Dharma enjoined in the holy Books 
guard you on all sides. May Sanatkuraara, Soma, 
Brihaspati, the seven Rishis and Narada keep away harm ^0 
and evil from you. May the mountains on the sea-shore, 
the ocean, Kubera, Varttna, the heaven world, the firmament, 
the earth, the rivers, the stars, the planets, the planetery 
Rulers, the Lords of day and night, and the goddesses of 
twilight take you under their protection. May the Rulers 35 
of the seasons, the months, the years, the minutes and the 
seconds bring you peace and happiness. May the Adityas 
and the Daityas make your forest life a happy one. May 
evil never approach you from the Rakshasas, the Pisachas, 
the wicked and every carnivorous creature. \i ay monkeys, 40 
scorpions, wild flees, gnats, reptiles and worms do no harm 
to you May you be safe from huge elephants, lions, tigers, 
bears, boars, bulls, and frightful bisons. May my worship and 
offerings go to satisfy other man-eating creatures and guard 
you from their clutches May peace and happiness walk 45 
before you. Your valor shall not fail its purpose, but shall 
achieve it to the full. May you never want for any comfort 
while you are in the woods May every inimical power on 
earth or in the sky bend their energies to compass your 
good. May Brihaspati, Soma, Soorya, Kubera, Agni, Vayu, 50 
the curling smoke from holy fires, and the potent spells you 
learnt of the' Rishis, stand guard over you when you bathe 
in the torests. May Brahma, the ruler of the worlds, 
Narayana, the protector of the universe and other Rishis, 
protect you during your sojourn in the forests." She 55 
chanted appropriate hymns and offered due worship to 
the respective gods with garlands and perfumes. 

Then, she lighted up the sacred fire through a saintly 
Brahmana and offered into it ghee, white garlands, sacred 
fuel and white mustard, to secure peace and prosperity to Q 



Rama. The priest made other offerings to secure perfect 
health and immunity from every illness, and placed balls 
,of food outside the sacrificial altar in honour of the 
Regents of the worlds. Kausalya gave away lai ge quantities 

gg of honey, ghee, curds and unbroken rice to Brahmanas ; 
caused the holy texts to be recited to guard him from 
harm when in the woods; made ample presents in coin 
and kind to the officiating priest and said to Rama, 
" Peace and happiness be unto you that attended the lord 

70 of the Devas when he stood victor over the asura Vritra 
and received the homage of the assembled gods. Peace 
and happiness be unto you that Vinata prayed for her son 
Garuda, when he went forth to bring down the Waters of 
Immortality. Peace and prosperity be unto you that Aditi 

75 blessed Indra with to aid him in his work of destruction of 
the Daityas during the churning of the Milky Ocean for 
Amnta Peace be unto you and happiness that waited upon 
the Lord Vishnu of boundless radiance when He set about 
to measure the worlds in three steps, Supreme peace and 

80 happiness be unto you through the tireless efforts of the 
seasons, the seas, the Vedas and the quarters." She 
sprinkled unbroken rice over the head of Rama, covered 
his shapely limbs with a rare sandal paste, tied round his 
arm a potent talisman of the famous plant Visalyakarani and 

85 recited appropriate spells over it. 

She hid a burning heart under a face wreathed in smiles; 
called rtama to her side in broken accents, smelt his head, 
clasped him to her breast and cried " Child ! Go forth to 
accomplish your utmost ends. Your ends achieved, come 

90 back to Ayodhya in perfect peace of body and mind and 
tread in the righteous path of our ancestors; and I, Kausalya, 
shall live to see the happy day. I have no more apprehensions 
of what might befall you in the forests. I shall live to 
bless my eyes with a sight of your lovely face, bright as the 


moon in her full, and my face will bloom with jey to see you 95 
again. I shall yet see you come back from the forests, 
your promise to your father well kept, and yourself ruling 
over the happy millions of the earth from the throne of 
your forefathers. Speed back from the dark forests and, 
adorned with the emblems and insignia of royalty arf 100 
becomes the lord of the earth, gratify to the utmost the 
heart hopes of myself and of Seeta. The heirarchies of 
gods worshipped by me, the Trimurtis, the Maharshis, the 
elementals, the Asuras, the Uragas and the quarters will 
secure to you every comfort and convenience while in 105 
the woods. " Rebellious tears started to her eyes while 
she invoked powerful blessings on his head ; * she went 
round him as a protective spell and clasped him to 
her heart again and again in a transport of love. 

Nothing could add to the halo of glory and spiritual HO 
radiance that surrounded Rama ; yet it was intensified, if 
possible, by a mother's sincere blessings and protective 
rites. The glorious champion of Dharma that wavered not 
for a moment in his allegiance to it even in direst 
distress, laid his head again and again at the feet of his 115 
mother and directed his steps to the mansion of his 
wife to acquaint her with the unwelcome news. 



AMA received the hearty blessings of his mother, 
saluted her in all reverence and took his way to the 
woods, treading the path of dharma. His noble perfec- 
tions won the hearts of the people as he proceeded along 
the royal road, blazing in his splendour. Meanwhile, Seeta 
had finished the fasts and vows connected with the approach- 


ing coronation of her husband and sat in joyful expecta- 
10 tion,- absolutely innocent of the cruel circumstances that 
prevented it. She doubted not that the happy function 
would come off in a few hours. Her worship offered to the 
beneficent gods, she awaited, with a joyful heart, the arri- 
val of Rama amidst the royal paraphernalia of the chamaras, 

1 5 the umbrella of state, the throne, auspicious music, elephants , 
horses, chariots, infantry and retinue. For, she was mind- 
ful of the royal usage that the queens of consecrated 
kings should offer worship at the feet of their lords with 
flowers and perfumes, 

20 Rama entered his palace and sought her presence. 

He bent Mus head a little, bowed down with shame at 
the sight of his servants so busily happy with the gay 
decorations towards his coronation. Seeta's loving eye 
noticed, even at a distance, the wan face and disturbed 

25 heart of her lord ; she sprang from her seat in vague 
apprehension and trembled like a leaf to think " What 
has happened to my lord and husband that he comes not 
to me cheerful and happy but is bowed down with grief ? " 
Sorrow and misery was a thing unknown to Rama till then. 

30 He grieved past bearing to think of the grief his news would 
cause Seeta. His courage deserted him quite as he said to 
himself " What will become of Seeta, all innocent of sorrow 
and misery, when I go away from here to the forest ? Time 
will hang very heavy on her hands." He became a prey to 

35 anxiety and his face was shorn of its lustre. Drops of 
perspiration rolled down his body when he thought " How 
shall I have the heart to tell her that the crown, almost with- 
in my grasp, has slipped through my fingers and that I am 
condemned to a long exile ? " 

40 Seeta watched him while he battled manfully with 

his grief and said il Light of my life ! How is it I see 
you ^cast down with anxiety on an occasion of un- 


precedented joy ? Have not the saintly Brahmanas de- 
clared that the Moon dwells to-day with the star Pushya 
ruled over by Brihaspati ; that success and fortune crown 45 
any enterprise undertaken during the auspicious period and 
that the same has been chosen for your consecration ? Then, 
why grieve when you should rejoice ? Your countenance 
gleams not forth from under umbrella of state, white as 
driven foam and spread over a hundred golden ribs ? Where ^ 
are the Chamaras, bright as the full moon or the stately 
swan, that should grace on either side your lotus-eyed 
countenance ? Why hear I not the sweet strains of bards, 
minstrels, heralds and panegyrists chauntmg your glories 
in noble terms ? I see no signs of your consecrated head 55 
having been sprinkled by learned and holy Brahmanas with 
sacred water mixed with honey and curds, to the majestic 
chant of benedictive hymns! Where is your retinue of minis- 
ters of state, royal officials, heads of guilds, citizens and 
provincials in brave attire ? The chariot of state precedes 60 
you not, drawn by four noble steeds flashing with gold and 
gems ! Where is the royal elephant endowed with every 
auspicious mark, that should majestically walk in front of you 
like a huge mountain afoot, crowned with dark rain- charged 
clouds ? Why do they not carry before you the gem-encrust- 65 
ed Bhadrasana that should precede the hero ? I am sure 
that the preparations towards your installation are all com- 
pleted. How is it that a cloud of sorrow dims the dazzling 
radiance of your countenance ? I do not read therein the 
least Sign of the joy that should ever reign m your heart ". yo 
And thus she weeping cried, when Rama raised his reluct- 
ant eyes to her face and said all gently " Seeta ! My father, 
who is a god unto me, has sent me to the forest." But a 
terrible fear came over him as he thought " Alas ! Fool 
that I am to break upon her with this grievous news ! God f 5 
knows what will become of her ;" and he set about to 


soothe and encourage her. " Seeta ! Daughter of King 
Janaka, the wise, from whom no mystery is hid ! Peerless 
woman, to whom the dharma of kings, of castes and orders 

80 is an open book, sure and certain ! Unparalleled in the per- 
fect practice of the highest dharma ! It came about thus. 
My sire had arranged everything to mstal me as heir-appa- 
rent this day, when my mother Kaikeyi reminded him of 
the two boons he granted her of yore and prayed their 

85 fulfilment. He plighted his faith to her and she desired 
that I should abide in the forests for twice seven years and 
that her son Bharata should rule in my place. My sire, the 
soul of truth and a loyal servant of dharma, acceded to her 
request. I regard it has my highest duty and most impera- 

90 tive to see my father's promise fulfilled ; I go hence to 
dwell in the forests for ten years and four. I come here to 
inform you of this and bid you farewell. 

" Persons in exalted positions and in the enjoyment of 
boundless wealth and power find it hateful to hear another 

95 praised in their presence. Have a care that you are not 
betrayed into eulogising me when Bharata comes to you to 
pay his respects. You will do well not to expect higher 
respect and consideration than what is accorded to the wives 
of Lakshmana and Satrughana. Nor should you show your- 
100 se H behindhand with our kinsmen in your affection and 
solicitude for his welfare. The king has invested Bharata 
with the powers of the heir-apparent ; he is ruler over us 
and it is meet that we should seek to deserve his pleasure 
and approbation. 

105 " * * *^ e ^ ar k f ores * s anc * abide there for fourteen 

years to keep njy father's plighted word. Brave heart ! 

Need I pray you be firm and constant in your love 

to me ? You will spend your time in pious exer- 

, cises, fasts and penances while I abide in the woods 

110 among the maharshis. Begin the day with offering devout 


worship and due to the bright gods ; lay your head in 
humble reverence at the feet of my sire and monarch, My 
mother Kausalya is very very old ; it is no wonder that she 
will suffer terribly the pangs of separation from me ; if you 
desire to practise the highest and the noblest dharma that 115 
could ever fall to the lot of one, devote yourself to her ser- 
vice. Not that you should in any way lessen your love and 
friendship towards my other mothers ; you should, all 
the more, ward off harm and evil from their side. I have, till 
now, received from them such rare affection and considera- 120 
tion ; I make no difference between them and Kausalya, the 
mother that bore me. Bharata is to you an elder brother and 
Satrughna your son. Know you not that they are dearer to 
me than life ? 

" Never do any thing that Bharata does not approve of. 125 
He is your king, none higher than he ; he is the absolute 
lord and master of this realm ; he is the head of the Iksh- 
vaku line If we bestir ourselves to consult the wishes of our 
kings and adapt ourselves to their likes and dislikes, we are 
sure of their love and confidence ; else, we incur their 130. 
wrath and suspicion* They put away from them the very 
sons of their loins if they apprehend evil through them. 
Good men and faithful are ever sure of their welcome and 
favour whether they be of their kith or no, So, centre your 
heart upon dharma ; busy yourself m the practice of fruitful 135 
vows and observances ; stay here seeking to Win the love 
and trust of Bharata . Life of my life ! I go to the forest ; 
I pray you abide here. I request you once more to prac- 
tise the few precepts I drew your attention to, taking care 
not to cause harm or grief to any one/' So spake Rama, as 140 
if he desired to place before her the dharma of a model wife 
in the absence other husband, but in reality to know her 
he^rt and rouse her wrath and opposition, f 




ONE was ever known to speak to Seeta but lovingly, 

even when she spoke to him, if ever, in anger or 

5 harshness. So, it needs no saying that she was ever gentle 

of speech to others and kind. The cruel words of Rama and 

i her boundless love for him roused her to quick anger and 
she cried " Rama ! Would that your pure lips were never 
soiled today by such light words ! I am but a girl ; yet, for 

10 the very life of me, I cannot control my laughter. This is a 
new experience for me and one not very welcome. The 
first-born of the flower of the Kshatnya race, it is strange to 
hear you give utterance to words quite at variance with 
your love to me. 

15 lt Lord ! A husband's father, mother, brothers, sons, 

daughters-in-law and km, reap the results of their past lives 
and do good or evil accordingly. But a wife alone is the 
half of his very self and rises or falls with him. So, the 
order of exile to the forest includes me as well. Hear the 

80 Holy Writ, ' This wife is, verily, half of his self. What 
refuge safer and happier in this world or in the next for good 
women ? Father, mother, soul, body, friends ? Nay, none of 
these. It is the husband and no other. Hence, I have a 
legitimate claim to one half of every thing yours, joy or 

25 sorrow ; you are my only hope and refuge ; if your feet are 
set towards the frightful wilds, I go before you, treading soft 
the sharp grass. Be not impatient with me and say * She will 
come with me and enjoy rare happiness'; or ' A foolish 
woman this, how dare she maintain obstinately that she will 

30 follow me to the forest, when I say nay ?' Be not wroth wjth 
me and say ' I advise her to stay here and lead a happy life ; 


yet, she will go with me at any cost. She makes light of ray 
wishes. She persists in preferring fruits, roots and other 
woodland fare to the royal comforts and luxury of Ayodhya'. 
Put away from you impatience and anger, even as you cast 35 
away polluted water and forbidden. 

" Do you want me believe that you hesitate to burden 
your single self in the wild woods with the safety and happi- 
ness of a woman ? How can you convince me that you are 
anything but the very flower of valor, the god of heroes ? 40 
So, you may take me with you and not feel anxious, 

" Am I such a miserable sinner as to deserve to survive 
your departure to the forest ? Nor is my soul dark with such a 
sin that I should expiate by being left here behind you. Take 
me with you to the forest and you will be the happier for 45 
it ; but never will you regret the favor done me. Travel- 
lers across sandy deserts drink from their water-skins and 
carefully preserve what is left against a future necessity. 
They never throw it away and are the happier for it. Even 
so stake me with you, 50 

" Ask me not ' Why do you prefer a rough life in 
the woods to power and pomp, comforts and luxury of 
royalty' ? A good woman knows no higher duty than to regard 
her husband as her god and devote herself to his service, 
body and soul, be he prince or peasant, philosopher or fool, 55 
She cares not to reside in the palaces of emperors or in the 
aerial cars of the Shining Ones ; nor can you entice her with 
offers of supernatural yogic powers of coursing at will 
through the myriad worlds, 

" My parents have taught me, time and oft, my duty to 60 
my lord and husband. I have a good knowledge of the 
means to be pursued to secure the highest good by persons 
in the various castes and orders of life. So I pray you 
spare yourself the trouble of teaching them to me afresh. 



65 " A happy life it must be to me in the pathless woods, 
the teeming home of elephants, tigers and bears, where man 
is not. I am sure I will abide there as cheerfully as in my 
father's palace, my thoughts ever centred upon affectionate 
service to you and caring a straw for the wealth and plea- 

70 sure the worlds can give. It will be a long spell of joy to me ; 
engaged in the vows and observances of the hermits, with 
restrained senses, I shall roam by your side through dark 
groves of honey-dropping trees, while objects rare and 
wonderful meet the eye on every side. An utter stranger to 

75 you has but to take refuge with you to secure your protection. 
Do I ask of you too much to protect me who know no other 
krd and protector ? I go with you today ; and when I have 
once made up my mind to go, heaven and earth cannot pre- 
vent me, I will thrive well upon sweet roots and juicy fruits 

gO and save you all worry on my account. Ever fearless and 
safe by your side, I long to behold hills and dales, moun- 
tains and valleys, forests and groves and charming lakes 
and pools, where swans, herons and other aquatic birds 
sport joyfully and to listen to your descriptions of their 

. manifold beauties. I shall bathe with you in the holy 
waters and pass my days happily in the strict observance of 
vows and penances. Thousands of years in the forests with 
you will seem to me but as a moment ; the bright worlds 
of Light are to me but a dark and noisome dungeon if you 

90 are not with me. I will follow you to the frightful wilds 
where foot man has never trod, where monkeys, deer and 
elephants roam in savage freedom. I will keep my senses 
under strict restraint and your holy feet shall be my only 
refuge. My heart is your shrine and it has no place for any 

95 other. My hopes, my $oys, my affections, are all centred in 
you. You but condemn me to instant death if you leave 
me behind. So, I would that you grant my earnest prayers 
and take me with you. Surely, I am no drag upon you", 


But Rama, ever wedded to dharma, would not hear of 
it ; the very thought of exposing Seeta to the wild and 100 
dangerous life of the forest was an insufferable torture to 
him. So he began to describe to her, at some length, the 
dangers and difficulties of a wild life in the woods and tried 
to turn her heart away from it. 



jHARMA had no mysteries for Rama ; his whole life 
was devoted to its loyal service ; but he brought 
before his mind the hardships of a torest life and shrank from 5 
taking Seeta with him He saw her weeping piteously and 
sought to dissuade her from her imprudent resolve " Seeta ! 
you come of a noble line , your heart is ever wedded to the 
practice of dharma ; hence, stay here and discharge the duty 
of your race and rank, It is not good for you to follow the bent 10 
of your inclinations. Believe me, I advise you for the best. A 
delicate girl, what know you of the countless miseries and 
dangers that infest a dweller in the forests ? Let me give 
you a faint idea oi it. 

" First and foremost, a forest is a pathless tract untrod 15 
by the foot of man, where danger and harm await us on 
every side from sharp stones and sharper thorns, from cruel 
beasts and crueller birds. So, put away from you the thought 
of following me there. Take it not that I say this to save 
myself an additional responsibility and trouble; it is but your 20 
welfare and happiness that I have at heart. Sorrow and 
misery, hardship and privation ever haunt the depths of the 
forest ; happiness and comfort are utter strangers to it. 

" The terrible roars of the lions in their rocky lairs arc 
made more hideous when borne on our ears along with 2$ 


the thunder of the falling cataracts. Huge beasts of 
prey, the lion and the tiger, range fearless in the uninhabited 
jungles ; the sight of man is all strange to them and they 
will spring at our throats as soon as they set their eyes upon 

30 us. The mountain torrents are infested with frightful 
crocodiles ; of immense depth and miry, they are unfordablc 
and fatal even for maddened elephants. The forest tracts 
are festooned with strong creepers that trip us at every 
step, while cruel thorns lacerate our flesh ; water is 

85 scarce to drink ; and it is no easy task to journey through 
them. The screams of the wild hens are unbearably sharp 
and ear-piercing ; and to strangers they are doubly fright- 

" The luxury of beds is unknown in the forest ; the 

40 hard uneven ground is the very best you can have that way 
Soft beds of swan-down or cotton are represented there 
by the dry leaves that fall from trees. You have scarcely 
time during the day to provide yourself with the neces- 
saries of life ; hence, it goes without saying that you have 

45 no leisure to take rest. We should even conform to the 
habits of the dwellers therein and stretch ourselves at 
nights on the bare earth. We should keep our senses under 
stern control, and content ourselves morning and evening 
with the fruits that fall from the trees. We should fast 

50 every now and then as long as we can ; wear our 
hair in matted coils ; dress ourselves in the barks of trees ; 
offer due worship every day to the gods, the Fathers and 
the guests ; bathe in the morning, at noon and again in the 
evening ; and we should omit none of the numerous vows 

55 and penances observed by the hermits therein. So the 
wild forest life is all unmeet for your delicate self. 

Every day we should gather flowers and offer them at 
the altar according to the rules prescribed by the Rishis ; 
hence, girj that you are, a forest life is but misery for you. 


We should observe the strict diet laid down in the Books for 60 
hermits and rest content with what we can get there. 
Fierce gales and terrible storms occur every now and then. 
The nights are pitch-dark. Hunger there is something to 
remember. Huge boas *nd pythons stretch themselves 
lazily across our paths, as also water-snakes with the 65 
undulatory motion of a nver Moths, scorpions, worms, 
wild fleas and gnats torment us day and night. Sharp grass, 
feeds and thorny trees abound along our paths and cause us 
insufferable pain and trouble. Bodily fatigue and fear in 
diverse forms are the lot of those who make the forest their 70 
home. Anger, lust and greed should be sternly put aside and 
the mind centred in tapas and meditation. We should not 
give way to fear even at the sight of most frightful objects ; 
hence a forest life is unbearable hardship for you. Enough 
of your following me to the woods. You cannot live through 75 
a day of it. I could detail to you a thousand other reasons 
why you should keep clear of the forests and its perils." 

Seeta saw that Rama was all unwilling to take her 
with him to the forest ; heavy grief weighed down her 
heart; she would have none of his arguments, but replied to 80 
him in firm though respectful words. 


SEETA'S REPLY (Continued) 

WITH tear-stained eyes and a broken voice, Seeta 
turned herself to Rama and said * l You were so 
kind as to describe at great length the numerous perils and 
troubles inseparable from a life in the forest and concluded 
that I could not live through it. But, if I were by your 
side, the life of my life, the veiy same dangers and horrors 


would be transformed into the gentle notes of the koil, or the 
10 fragrant sandal or the soft zephyr and give me unbounded 
pleasure and joy. Lions and tigers, elephants and sarabhas 
(an eight-legged monster, the mortal foe of the fierce lion), 
deer, birds and the other innumerable fierce denizens of the 
forest will, of a truth, flee your presence. They have never 

15 set their eyes on such a curious object; and who would 
not be filled with fear at the sight of a frightful object ? 

14 1 have put it to you that your father and mother have 
laid their commands upon me to follow you to the woods. 
Need I remind you that my life-breaths follow you to the 

20 forest if you deny that privilege and pleasure to their flesh- 
ly tabernacle ? Again, allow me to recall to your memory 
the words of my honoured sire as he placed my hands 
in yours on the marriage day before the bright God 
of fire. ' Seeta here will follow faithfully your foot- 

25 steps on the narrow and difficult path of dharma. She 
will be ever with you, inseparable as your shadow/ 
Now, it is nothing but reasonable and just that I should 
follow your footsteps in hving the difficult dharma of a 
recluse in the forest. I am content to be left behind when 

30 you cast off your shadow from you. The monarch of the 

Shining Ones dare not, for his very life, lift his eyes to me 

when you are by my side. Again, have you not exhorted me 

time and oft that a wife has no life apart from her husband ? 

" Let that be. One day, in my father's house, long 

35 before I married you, some brahmanas for whom the science 
of the stars has no secret, said, if I remember aright ' The 
horoscope of this girl prophesies for her a temporary sojourn 
mthe forest/ Besides, I heard the same confirmed by brah- 
manas skilled in the science of palmistry and have been eager* 

40 ly awaiting the chance. You see plainly that the forest life 
they predicted for me from scientific considerations is but 
the result of my past karma ; and Prarabdha is inevitable. I 


go to the forest but with you and not alone. Now, I have the 
words of the truthful brahmanas for it ; the likeliest chance 
has offered itself now ; I go with you ; is it not a sin to 45 
falsify the predictions of the saintly brahmanas ? Again, as to 
your laboured description of the dangers and perils of the 
forest, I know somewhat ; but they are not for us f Do they 
not refer rather to those who are not masters of their senses 
and mind ? Further, when I was a maid in my father's 50 
house, a holy woman came to my mother one day and said 
1 Your daughter will have to spend, I fear, some years in the 
forest.' No ordinary woman, mind you, but one endowed 
with marvellous psychic and spiritual powers. 

" Let that be. Have I not ere now entreated you times 55 
out of count that I long to go with you to the banks of 
the Ganga and visit the hermitages of the holy Rishis there ? 
And, had I not your gracious reply ' Be it so. I but wait 
for a fitting occasion?' I am looking forward to that happy 
contingency every moment of my life Prince of heroes ! 60 
May all good be thine. Have you gauged the depth of my 
desire to spend with you happy days in the forest and offer 
you every devoted service with my hands ? 

" Ideal man who knows not envy, anger and the other 
frailties of the earth ! If I abide with you during your stay 65 
in the forest with a heart overflowing with love for you, I 
will be washed pure of all sins. You may say ' Will you 
not attain toe same end by remaining here and offering 
devout worship to the god of your fathers ?" Well, when has a 
good wife known any other deity but her wedded lord? I hold 70 
nothing more desirable and beneficent to me than to be by 
your side here and hereafter. (A woman is brought up by 
her father during childhood; the husband protects her youth; 
her children take care of her old age ; verily she has no 
independent life of her own). I have heard wise brahmanas 75 
quote a passage in the holy Scriptures to the effect that { If a 


woman is given to a man in marriage by her parents, in con- 
formity with the rules and regulations of her order and the 
traditions of her family, if she is utterly faithful and devoted 

80 to her lord during her stay in this world, she wins a place 
by him in the worlds of Light through all eternity.' I hope 
you do not take it that I teach it to you as if you knew it 
not ; I but humbly submit that I have the sanction of the 
Scriptures to back my request to follow you to the forest. 

85 " Are you still bent upon not taking me with you ? Am 

I not your wedded wife ? Have you been able to detect any 
flaw in my conduct or character till now ? Are you not my 
only refuge and support, the single deity that rules my heart ? 
Know you of any one, a more enthusiastic worshipper of 

90 yours ? Have you ever seen me intoxicated with joy or 
prostrated with sorrow ? Am I not entitled to a fair half of 
your happiness and misery ? Are your eyes blind to the 
torments and agony I suffer ? Why will you not see that it is 
but bare justice to me to be allowed to accompany you ' 

95 The very thought of being away from you fills me with 
indescribable pain ; and if you are still heartless enough to 
leave me behind you, I will drain the poison cup or leap 
into the blazing fire or seek the dark depths of the waters to 
end my misery." 

100 Thus did Seeta pray and entreat, adducing many a 
plausible reason, many a convincing argument. But Rama 
was all loath to take her with him ; the very idea was some- 
thing horrible to him of exposing his heart's love, brought 
up in the lap of luxury and comfort, to the dangers and 

105 privations of the frightful woods which knew not man, 
Seeta was filled with unutterable despair ; she .watered the 
earth about her feet with her hot tears and stood as one 
dazed. But she would not yield to Rama m the least, for 
all his well meant efforts to dissuade and console her* 




>HEN Seeta spoke to Rama bitter and taunting words, 
for she cared not to be lured into consenting to his 
leaving her behind him ; she was resolved to secure her end 5 
anyhow. He was a paragon of valor and heroism ; but he 
was also her own dear lord, the object of her all-absorbing 
love ; and she was stung to the quick that he ever enter- 
tained the idea of parting her from him and at his obstinate 
refusal to grant her earnest and repeated prayers. " Have 10 
you any idea of what a sorry figure you will cut in the eyes 
of my father, should he come to hear that you had gone 
to the forest and left me behind you ? Your supernal 
beauty is your sole refuge, your only weapon, your only 
asset, with which you steal away the hearts of us, poor 15 
women. Kindly tell me whether you have anything else 
about you worth noticing. Janaka, my father, is very much 
inclined to the Path of Action, as is plain from the saying, 
1 Great men, like Janaka, have won the supreme Goal 
solely by treading the Path of Action'; hence, he will not 20 
entertain the idea of a householder living apart from 
his wife even for a moment. Besides, he is not, like you, a 
novice in the art of government, a stranger to the joys and 
sorrows of others ; but he is the ideal ruler over many 
countries and the watchful father to the countless millions 25 
that dwell in them. Should it come to his ears that you left 
me behind you, all out of impotence to protect a weak 
woman, he would most naturally exclaim ' Alas ! Fool that 
I was to be so duped ! My eyes were blinded to the truth. 
I have unwittingly ruined the life of my darling girl by SO 
giving her in marriage to one whom I conceived to be a 
man. The scales have fallen from my eyes. He is but a 



woman under the miserable garb of a man.' Would he have 
ever given me to you for wife, if he had the least suspicion 

35 of the truth ? 

" Alas ! What blind dupes the people are ! I hear them 
say on every side ' Unparalleled glory and valor adorn Rama, 
even as light and life abide in the sun, crowned with his 
thousand rays/ It is a naked lie ; it is the child ot crass 

40 ignorance. I see nothing extraordinary or wonderful in 
Rama ; if truth must be spoken, he stands far down in the 
scale of ordinary men. 

" Manu enjoins the head of a family to maintain it in 
comfort and ease even though he has to incur countless 

45 sins therein. I do not see that you have burdened yourself 
with any such responsibility ; have the kindness to inform 
me what grievous sin you have committed for my sake and 
repent so keenly. You are my sole stay and support, my 
only refuge ; I never look to any other for advice, guidance 

50 or protection. I cannot construe your unwillingness to take 
me with you in any other way than that you are mortally 
afraid of some one who is sure to cause you grievous harm 
if I follow you to the woods. But, who knows better than 
I that the fire of your wrath consumes everything that 

55 stands before it, even like the Fire of Dissolution ? I am 
curious to know who those wonderful persons are that cuise 
you so much fear and apprehension, 

" I request you to remember that I am your loyal and 
faithful servant ; your lightest word is a law unto me ; and I 

60 follow you where you go, even as Savitn, the faithful wife, 

foftotfted -her lord Satyavan into the dread regions of Death, 

1 Rank me not with the common lot of women who are born 

to, ruin a noble house, My heart has, and will have, no 

plage for any other god than your noble self. That is by 

65 itself reason enough for me to claim to come with you. I try 
to live the life of a faithful wife ; times out of count have I 


sworn to you, by everything that I hold sacred, that you are 
my love, my lord, my god, my everything. Yet you advise 
me' all seriously about my deportment and attitude to 
Bharata. Verily I begin to suspect you of an inhuman 70 
and base conspiracy to make me over to Bharata, even 
as an infamous pander or professional pimp, who makes a 
wretched living by hiring out to others the young confiding 
wife whom he inveigled into a marriage and had allowed 
to live with him through long years, all unsuspectingly. 75 
Rama ! I freely and ungrudgingly allow you the mono- 
poly of the^favour and service of him whom you flatter, of him 
to whom you would make me over. I do not enter into the 
lists with you as a rival ; I have not fallen so low ; I have 
not been reduced to such abject destitution and misery. You 80 
shall not go to the forest unless I go with you. Bury your- 
self in the dark woods ; enter the order of ascetics or 
recluses ; ascend to the bright seats of the Immortals ; I 
am ever with you. I care not to argue further; I care not to 
hear more. ' I have no other but a woman's reason. I g5 
think it so because I think it so ' 

" Fear not that I, would feel fatigued in the least when I 
travel with you, as I used to do during my walks in the 
pleasure-gardens here. Sharp grass, reeds and thorny trees 
are to me but soft cotton or the finely tanned skin of the ante- 99 
lope, if you arc by my side. The fine dust blown upon me 
by fierce gusts and gales will be to rne as excellent sandal 
paste, What pleasure have I here, reclining on delicately 
woven rugs or carpets or cunningly fashioned couclj 
or lounges, more than the delight and comf 
feel when reposing on the soft emerald 
The fruits and roots and leaves gathered 
Will taste as sweet as ambrosia, be they 
The flowers &nd the fruits of the 
mine to enjoy ; no shadow of a memory 

148 AYobHYAkAfcdAirf [CH. 

parents will ever cross my mind. I assure you I will cause 
you no trouble, not the slightest, when I live with you in 
the forests. You will have not the least difficulty in taking 
care of me there. My heaven is where you are ; apart from 

105 you I am in the darkest of hells. You cannot but take me 
with you if you have the least idea of the extent of my love 
to you. The very word fear is unknown to me when I go 
with you to the forests. If you still persist in your inhu- 
man and obstinate resolve to leave me here, I will kiss the 

110 poison cup rather than be handed over to the tender 
mercies of Bharata or any other enemy of mine. Sure, am 
I of a natural death here after your departure to the woods ; 
it is decidedly better for me to cast aside this unworthy 
body when you are by. Alas! Powerless am I to endure this 

115 sharp-toothed grief, even for a second ; ten years, then 
three years, then one year and, all counted, fourteen years 
of dreary darkness unrelieved by a ray of your radiant 
presence! Ah! What a hell ! Never can I live through it," And 
with senses adrift, and a heart shaken to its very depths, she 

120 fell upon her husband's neck and wept aloud, a sight to melt 
a statue of adamant. The words of Rama pierced deep into 
her soul, even as a cow-elephant in the forest stricken to the 
heart with poisoned shafts. Her long-restrained tears 
flowed in torrents, like fierce flames from the attrition of 

125 fire-sticks. The crystal drops fell from her eyes in rapid 
succession, even as the pearly dew drops from the blossom- 
ing petals of the&tus. (Her charming face that put to shame 
the spotless moon with its large and lustrous eyes, faded at 
the touch of the hot scalding tears, even as a tender lotus 

130 plant violently torn from its cool, watery bed). 

Rama clasped to his breast his grief-stricken wife in a 
transport of love and chased away from her sorrow and 
despair by his sweet and consoling words. " Seeta ! And 
you really believe that it matters anything to me if 1 had 

XXX] f HE TRltfMfrH OF* LOVE U9 

a place in the highest heaven while you he weeping here ? 135 
As to fear, I laugh at Narayana, the self -existent One. I 
bars no life apart from you. Afraid of taking you with me ! 
Nay, I but seemed to refuse, since I was in the dark about 
your real views on the subject. You need not go to seek for 
any other reason. I tell you that you are made to live with 140 
me in the forest ; a man of undaunted heart and unclouded 
intellect will spurn the idea of renouncing his bright fame* 
I will not, and the truth of it is, I cannot, give you up. 

" My ancestors, the royal sages, dwelt in the forests as 
hermits and their wives lived with them. It is but the 145 
dharma of my line that I follow and no new-fangled notion 
of mine. So, come with me, even as the lady Suvarchala 
accompanies her lord the Sun-god. 

" My sire has made a promise to Kaikeyi and has 
ordered me to see to its fulfilment ; so, I cannot but go* to 150 
the forest ; go I must. Our highest dharma consists in 
obeying our parents and carrying out their behests. Life to 
me has no meaning except as its loyal and whole-souled 
practice. You may suggest that we may remain here and 
secure the highest heaven by devout worship offered to the 155 
Deity. But, unfortunately, that deity is omnipotent, in- 
dependent and not amenable to the influence of those thai 
worship him ; besides, it never expresses its commands or 
desires to us in person. Our parents and guru are amenable 
to the prayers of those that serve them ; besides, they com- 160 
mand us in person. There is no reason $p putting them 
away and preferring the deity as the object of our worship. 
The three worlds are open to one who devotes his life to the 
service of his mother, lather and guru ; he knows nothing 
purer ; so, we should ever reverence and respect them in 165 
preference to others. Right speech, charity, hospitality 
and the numerous rites and sacrifices conducted with ample 
gifts pale before hhal service in conferring good upon us. 

150 AVODtiYAKANt)AM [&*. 

There is not the least shadow of a doubt that loyal service to 

170 our parents and guru ensures for us a happy stay in the heaven 
worlds, wealth, knowledge, offspring and the joys of life. The 
great Ones, who bend all the powers of their mightly selves to 
the faithful service of their parents and regard it as the be- 
all and-end all, can have for the mere asking of it, the heaven 

175 of the gods or of the gandharvas or the Go-loka or the 
Brahma-loka itself. My father is the loyal servant of truth ; 
his feet never stray from the path of dharma. His lightest 
word is god's decree unto me ; and it is even the dharma 
followed by our ancestors. 

180 "I was against taking you to the forest with me as I 
was unaware of your true inclination in the affair ; but now 
that I know of your unshaken resolve to share the dangers 
of exile with me, I am ready and willing to take you with 
me. It is written in the book of Fate, in the beginning of 

185 time that you are to live with me in the forest; so, come 
along and assist me in the discharge of my dharma. I can- 
not praise too high your noble efforts to accompany your 
husb ; it does honor to me and to my race. So, make 
the necessary preparations for our departure from Ayodhya. 

190 The happiest heavens is but bitter poison to me without 
you ; give away gold and gems to the brahmanas, and let the 
poor of the city have free excess to the entire disposal ol 
our stores and provisions, Delay not, but look sharp. Let 
the brahmanas come first and receive from you priceless 

195 ornaments, rare ofoths, curiously wrought statues and toys 
of gold and silver, beds and conveyances ; and their con- 
sent taken, let our servants, dependents and retainers have 
the rest/ 1 

Seeta was delirious with joy that her husband was 

200 gracious to her and was pleased to take her with him to the 
forest ; so, she set about to arrange for their departure to 
Dandaka. Her liberality was something inconceivable, 


boundless ; besides, her husband had given her carte 
blanche to distribute their vast wealth among those that 
might ask for it. So she began to give away profusely and 205 
without stint, gold, silver, coin, gems, corn, clothes, beds 
and conveyances to righteous brahmanas. 



AKSHMANA had followed Rama from the palace of 
Kausalya and was a silent listener to the conversa- 
tion between his brother and Seeta. "Alas !" said he to him- 5 
self, oppressed with grief past bearing, 'What a superhuman 
task had Seeta to obtain her husband's consent to accompany 
him to the forest, and she the better half of her lord, flesh 
of his flesh ! Verily, my chances are shadowy enough"; and 
the thought opened the flood-gates of his sorrow-laden heart. 10 
He had no other aim or object in life than to follow where 
his brother led ; he prayed no higher boon. He saw no 
other means to secure that coveted end. He was sure that 
there was no question of putting him away where the Lord 
of Universe, his brother, was concerned ; and that gave him 15 
courage to take refuge in the mercy of Rama. He had 
sedulously cultivated the necessary qualifications to entitle 
him to seek refuge with the Lord and had long ago put away 
from him every probable and possible obstacle thereto. As 
a first step, he prayed to Seeta, the Mother of Mercy, the 20 
Interceder of all ; through her, he clasped the feet of the 
Lord with boundless love and devotion even of him who 
proclaimed to the world "Never shall I abandon one 
who sought me out as his friend. He shall know 'no fear 
from any object in creation* This is the beacon-light by 25 


which I steer my course through life"; and prayed all 
humbly to be allowed to serve his lord and master as the 
reward of his supreme and absolute surrender to his will. 
" My heart is set against your exiling yourself to the 

30 forest ; but if you have made up your mind to go, may I go 
with you. Bow in hand and senses keenly on the alert, I 
shall walk before you through the trackless woods where 
roam the savage beasts of prey. You may travel in safety and 
comfort through the wood-world where diverse birds and 

35 beasts have their haunts I pray you command me to render 
devoted service to you in all places, at all times and under all 
circumstances With thee away, I care not to dwell in |he 
supreme heaven which the Sruti calls Ayodhya, the citj^of 
the gods ; I care not for Kaivalya, the life that cannot die ; 

40 I care not to stretch my sway over this Brahmanda with its 
fourteen worlds ; nay, what care I for any stage of existence 
high, higher or highest, when the very State of Liberation 
ts beneath my contempt, if I had no chance of offering you 
my devoted service there ?" 

45 Rama tried variously to pursuade and dissuade 

Lakshmana who earnestly prayed to share his wood-land life 
with him ; but, the son of Sumitra would have none of it 
and entreated in piteous accents "I heard you say ( Stop the 
arrangements that are afoot towards my coronation and get 

50 everything ready for my departure to the woods ; again ' Put 
away grief and anger from you even as I do. Let the installa- 
tion go no further ' ; ' Seeta ! Dearer to me than life itself 
are Bharata and Satrughna ; so, it behoves you to treat them 
with special care and affection, tor they stand to you as 

55 elder brother and son'. I was glad to observe that you in- 
cluded me not therein. Hence, I take it that you have 
commanded me to follow you to Dandaka. Why should you 
forget that and stop me now ? You accorded me leave at first 
and I, in all confidence and joy, was all afire to go ; now you, 


change your mind and would have me stay here. A 60 
suspicion gains strength every moment in my mind that I 
have somehow offended you ; else, how could you find it 
in your heart to stay me who rejoice in the high privilege 
of being your dearest companion from birth, who cleave to 
you like your very shadow ? I pray you solve me this." 65 

The glorious Rama turned his eyes on the faithful 
Lakshmana who sued with hands upraised to be allowed to 
accompany him, longing to lead. " Lakshmana ! you are 
the dearest friend I have ; your steps stray not from the 
path of the righteous. You are a hero unmatched ; your 70 
heart and soul are ever centred in Dharma ; you most nobly 
deserve my love and affection ; I love you as my life till life 
shall end ; you are devoted to me in every way ; you are my 
brother ; you are the friend of my earliest days ; so, in no one 
are combined all the noble qualities requisite to accomplish 75 
my ends. If you accompany me and Seeta to-day to the 
woods, who will provide for Kausalya and Sumitra ? I assure 
you this is my sole reason for denying you now. My seeming 
consent to you some time ago was but a temporary measure 
demanded by the occasion. 80 

" Say not ' Is there not king Dasaratha, their legitimate 
lord and protector ' ? Our sire of unbounded fame and glory 
fulfils the heart-desires of the millions of this kingdom, 
even as the clouds pour down the welcome rains ; yet 
he lies a helpless captive in the bonds of passion and has no 35 
will of his own. If Kaikeyi, the daughter of Aswapati, wins 
for her son imperial power, she will never heed to attend 
to the comforts and needs of her rivals who are stricken to 
the heart. 

" Say not ' Is Bharata so utterly abandoned to reason 90, 
and justice as to be neglectful of his duty to our mothers 7 
Proud Kaikeyi has him under her thumb ; he is powerless 
to move hand or foot, He will have to remain an impotent 


witness of the torments inflicted by his infamous mother 
95 upon her rivals ; so, it would in no way help Kausalya and 
Sumitra to tide over their misery, even if Bharata should be 
proclaimed lord of this realm* 

" Say not ( What power have I to protect them ?' Watch 
over Kausalya as well as you can, with the sanction of our 

100 monarch or failing it, by your rare valour and energy. 
Follow this councel and oppose it not/' 

u Argue not ' Your service is everything to me. What 
have I to do with such as these ? ' Your great love to me is 
best shown by your faithful and perfect service to our 

105 elders and mothers. Deeply learned in the mysteries of 
Dharma ! The most noble and unparalleled Dharma is en- 
sured to you if you serve those you should revere. This is 
the first request I make of you and I would have you obey 
it for my sake. What comfort on earth have the mothers 

110 that bore us, bereft of you, me and Seeta ? " 

Rama was the peer of Bnhaspah himself in skilful 
and unassailable logic ; yet Lakshmana won his heart by 
his keen wit and quick repartee. So in sweet words and 
gentle, he began to answer the objections of his loving 

115 brother. 

" Bharata is sure to respect and reverence our mothers, 
at least out of mortal fear that Kausalya is the mother of 
Rama of inconceivable might and valour ; he knows but 
too well that his life and safety depend on the love and 

120 attention he betows on our mothers. I doubt it not in the 
least. Should Bharata, raised to power and sway over 
this vast realm, be lured with evil-tempting pride and be- 
tray his trust or fail in the lightest detail in his devoted 
attention and reverence to our mothers, doubt not that I 

125 will wreak cruel vengeance on the head of that insensate 
fool ; nay, and all that egg him on, be they the three worlds 
in league arrayed. Queen Kausalya, the noble, can easily 


afford to maintain a thousand such as myself. Know we not 
that she has made ample and liberal endowments of hun- 
dreds and hundreds of villages to her dependants and 130 
retainers ? It is nothing to her to provide for the comforts 
of herself, myself and my sweet mother. 

" I am your most devoted servant ; I but pray to be 
allowed to render the service that goes with it. I believe I 
have in me the necessary qualifications of a servitor; it is 135 
utter presumption for me to suggest that in you shine the 
perfections that wait upon the Lord of the universe ; so, my 
following you to the forest solitudes does in no way militate 
against the relation of lord and servant. You will have no 
difficulty to providing yourself with fruits, roots and other 140 
woodland fare. I too succeed in attaining the goal of my 
hopes Service to you, With bow on my back and well-filled 
quiver, I walk before you through the forest tracks, with 
spade and basket. E\rery day I shall procure for you the 
simple fare of the hermits, wild fruits, roots, beines, corn and 145 
honey. You may take your pleasure with Seeta on the 
mountain brows. Your humble servant prays for the privilege 
of rendering you, the Lord of all and your noble spouse, 
every kind of service, at all times and in all places." 

His words filled Rama with joy and pleasure. u Be it 150 
so " replied he " Go, bid adieu to your km and friends and 
keep yourself in readiness to start for the woods. Bring 
me those two bows of fearful might, presented to us in per- 
son by Varuna, the Lord of the waters, at that famed rite of 
Janaka, the divine coats of mail weapon- proof, the quivers 155 
with their never-failing supply of shafts and the gold-chased 
swords bright as the noon day sun. They arc pieserved in 
the hall of the Guru of our race, maharshi Vasishtha, tended 
with extreme care and worship there ; brm^j them hither for 
our use," Lakshmana flew on the wings of speed to take 1GO 
leave uf his friends and kinsmen ; full of the jojful 


thoughts of following Rama to the forest glades, he repaired 
to the mansion of maharshi Vasishtha and fetched the res- 
plendent arms kept there, adorned with many* a wreath and 

165 garland, sandal paste, perfume and incense. 

Rama was delighted at the sight of them and ex- 
claimed " Lakshmana! You come in time to help me, 
distribute my wealth and gold to the brahmanas and hermits. 
There are countless men, good and true, who have devoted 

170 themselves to the service of the old and the wise. For them 
and for all who dwell with me and serve me well, shall I 
make ample provision, more liberal beyond their dreams. 
Go hence to Suyagna, the son of Vasishtha, and request in our 
name the presence of the saintly brahmana here. I would 

175 take reverent leave of all the brahmanas of this town before 
I turn my face towards the forests. " 



AKSHMANA could not contain himself for joy when 
he heard that Raiua was about to bestow his vast 
5 wealth upon the brahmanas ; besides, his wildest hopes were 
reah zed in that Rama consented to take him along. He sought 
Suyagna in his home and found him in the hall of fire. 
Bending himself m low reverence before him, he said 
" Friend ! come with me to the house of my brother Rama ; 
10 and you will have a chance of beholding him perform an 
act that none in the worlds will ever dare to dream of." 
Suyagna finished his morning rites and offerings to the fire 
and followed Lakshmana m haste to Rama's palace, rich 
with the wealth of the worlds. 

15 Rama and Seeta came forward with excited pleasure 
to meet the wise One ; with joined hands they went round 

GlFfS 15? 

him in reverence and bowed low, even as to the sacrificial fire 
that gives light and life. Armlets of gold, gems strung on 
gold cords, earrings, bracelets, wristlets, and many a rare 
stone and gem did Rama lay at the feet of Vasishtha's son. 20 
Then Seeta whispered to her husband, who raised his eyes to 
the sage and said " Friend ! Seeta desires to make a present 
to your worthy lady of this garland of gold, this chain curious- 
ly wrought and this gem-encrusted zone ; I pray you accept 
this trifle. Besides, she would request your lady to accept 25 
these bracelets and armlets of curious and marvellous 
workmanship, on the occasion of her departure to live in the 
woods. This bed, rich with gold and gems, with its costly 
canopy, she would add to the other gifts. Be it mine to 
pray your acceptance of Satrunjaya, the gem of elephants, 30 
sent me as a present by my uncle and a thousand others 
to keep it company." Suyagna signified his gracious con- 
sent and invoked heaven's highest blessings on the head of 
the noble pair. 

Then as the Ancient of Days, Brahma, lays his com- 35 
mands on the Lord of the celestials, Rama turned to his 
brother with a loving heart and said " Maharshi Agastya's 
son and Visvamitra's, entreat their presence here ; beg their 
acceptance of countless gold, silver, gems and kine as much 
as they would have, even as thrifty husbandmen water the 40 
sprouting corn with fostering floods. 

44 A saintly brahmana, the chief of those that study the 
Taittireeya Sakha of the Yajur Veda, goes over every day 
to my mother's palace and respectfully invokes the blessing 
ot heaven upon her. He is deeply versed in sacred lore and 45 
in the inner mysteries thereof. Present him with convey- 
ances, servants, maids, silks and shawls until he is satisfied. 
Again, there is Chitraratha, our counsellor and charioteer, 
who has been connected with oui house for countless years; 
give liiui corn, vine, gems and robes until he cries 'No more,' 5U 


Again, there are many celibates under my protection who 
/have devoted themselves to the study of the Katha and the 
Kalapa portions of the veda ; they are too busy to trouble 
themselves with providing for their earthly wants ; they are 
> by nature slow and love dainty fare ; yet they have won the 
approbation of the' elders by their exemplary conduct. Set 
apart for them eighty carriages, filled with precious stones 
and ornaments, a thousand bulls to carry the corn, two hund- 
red oxen to plough their land and a thousand kine to supply 

60 them wilh milk, curds and ghee. A numerous band of 
celibates who wear sacred girdles wait upon my mother 
Kausalya in hopes of getting married through her bounty ; 
give them every one a thousand kme to rejoice my mother's 
heart." And Lakshmana dispensed with own his hands the 

g5 numerous gifts of wealth and corn, gold and gems, kme and 
horses, as liberally as the Lord of riches. 

Then Rama addressed himself to the crowd of depend- 
ants and retainers who stood by and wept aloud and made 
ample provision for every one of them to live happily . ' '4 

70 look to you to take care of the mansions wherein I and 
Lakshmana have dwelt, till I come again." He called to him 
his treasure-keeper and ordered him to have his wealth 
and treasure brought out. The servants placed it before 
him in huge heaps. Rama and Lakshmana bestowed them 

75 upon brahmana lads, old men and the needy until they 
had enough. 

Then, there approached Rama, a brahmana of the clan 
of Rishi Garga and he was named Trijata. All tawny was 
his body through want and poverty ; he toiled in the woods 

with axe and spade, hoe and reaping hook in hand and 
maintained himself, his wife and his numerous progeny by 
gleaning the ears of corn that lay in the field after the reap- 
ers had left. His young wife pointed to their numerous off- 
spring and said to the old man " My dear lord ! How long, 


oh ! how long, are we to be ground down under the iron heel 85 
poverty ? Throw aside your axe, your plough and your spade 
and listen to my counsel. Let us betake ourselves to Rama's 
presence. If it be our lot to be blessed with a little wealth, 
there is no wiser course than to pray of his kindness, who is 
dharma incarnate ". It seemed to him good advice ; and 90 
arranging his rags about him as well as he could, he and 
his family came to Rama's palace. No one stayed the 
Brahmana till the fifth block of apartments; for, his spiritual 
lustre resembled that of the patriarchs Bhrigu and Angiras. 
He approached Rama and said " Prince ! your bright fame 95 
illumines the ends of the earth. I have a large family to 
feed and scant living in the woods is all I can provide for 
them. I glean the ears of corn left in the fields by the 
reapers and feed these babes. Cast an eye of pity on me." 

Said Rama to himself " This brahmana is the sport of 100 
poverty ; verily he has numerous offspring : I would have 
an idea of his desire for wealth ;" and half in jest, he replied 
to him with a smile " Reverend sir ! Not even the first 
thousand of my countless kine has been bestowed in chari- 
ty. I pray you throw the staff in your hand with all your 105 
strength and the kine from here to the spot where it falls 
are yours." 

At once the brahmana, in eager haste, wound his cloth 
around his loins, whirled the staff over his head and threw 
it with all his might. It fell in the midst of the herds of 110 
kine grazing peacefully on the farther -banks of the Sarayu. 
Then Rama fondly embraced the brahmana and ordered the 
countless heads of kine to be driven safe to the abode of 
Trijata and said, " Holy sir ! I crave your pardon. Let 
not your noble heart be offended. I but desired to have 115 
some idea of your matchless strength and energy and pro- 
posed to you this curious test of it. It was meant in jest and 
I pray you take it as such. Command me further if I can 


be of any use to you, Nay,, speak freely, for, I have acquir- 

120 ,ed this wealth of mine solely in trust for the brahmanas. If 

it should find favour in the eyes of the great Ones and be 

deemed fit for use by them, I am richer by boundless fame 

and joy." Trijata and his wife accepted the gift of kine 

and with a full heart and overflowing, called down the bless- 

125 ings of heaven upon Rama and prayed for his fame, strength, 

happiness and compassion to wax ever. 

Next, he distributed his righteously earned wealth 
among his friends and dependants with every mark of 
respect and affection. There was none among the crowds 
130 gathered there, brahmanas, or, friends who were not brah- 
manas, or, servants who were neither brahmanas nor friends, 
or, the needy poor who were none of these, but were reward- 
ed with presents to the limit of their deserts and desires. 



AMA, Lakshmana and Seeta bestowed their vast 
iwealth upon the brahmanas out of a full heart and 
5 proceeded to take leave of the king. Their bows, arrows, 
swords and other weapons had a glorious look, adorned with 
the garlands and sandal paste by Seeta's fair hands. As 
they passed along the royal road, the citizens gazed at 
Rama with tear-stained faces and a heavy heart from 
10 storied house, mansion, palace, tower, balcony and 
portico. The streets were densely packed with the mourn- 
ful throng. Their beloved was proceeding on foot like any 
common hind, bereft of umbrella, chamara, chariots, retinue 
or other insignia of royalty. It was not 'in human na- f 
15 ture to behold it and live, They broke forth in loud la- 


ments, dreadful groans and muttered curses. " Alas ! 
Countless hosts as ocean sand, man, horse, foot, chariot and 
elephant were wont to follow Rama in glittering array. And 
to day none other than Lakshmana and Seeta to go with 
him ! Rama laid up untold wealth ; out of a liberal heart 20 
he gave it away to the poor, the needy and the deserving ; 
he ever fulfilled the hopes and wishes of those that clung 
to him ; and holding it as his rule of life to serve with 
utter faithfulness the parents that bore him and carry out 
their behests, aye the lightest, he would not dream of fal- 25 
sfiying the promise made by his father. The denizens of 
the sky had scarce any glimpse of Seeta's soft and fair 
form ; the very winds of heaven would not visit her face 
too roughly ; and she walks along the rough road, unshel- 
tered, open to the gaze of the passer-by, Rain, hail, dew, 30 
frost, sun and wind, what sad havoc would they npt play 
with her gently nurtured body, artistically adorned and tint- 
ed with saffron, lac (alakta) and red sandal paste ? When 
they go to bid farewell to Dasaratha, the good genius of the 
old king will doubtless assert its sway and make him say, 35 
< You shall not go into exile/ He would not have the heart 
to banish Rama to the woods the dearest of his four sons. 
There is no man so utterly and hopelessly wicked as to 
drive away from his hearth and home, the son of his loins, 
be he the owner ot one virtue linked to a thousand crimes. 40 
Then it is impossible even to conceive of any one propos- 
ing to Rama to bury himself in the forest depths, the ideal 
prince who steals away the hearts of every object in crea- 
tion by his graces of mind and heart. Harmlessness to all, 
compassion, self-restraint, self-reverence, profound learning 45 
and perfect practice, these six excellences deem themselves 
honoured in being allowed to associate with him. 

"The burning summer sun scorches and shrivels the v 
poor things to whom water is life ; even so, the faint cloud 


50 that ruffles the calm heart of Rama or the slightest shadow 
of grief or misery that darkness his bright soul, reacts on 
the people in unspeakable calamity and ruin. As a state, 
ly monarch of the forest-world dries up and fades with its 
fruits and flowers if its roots are cruelly severed, the whole 

55 universe is afflicted with the affliction of Rama. For, the 
radiant and righteous prince is the root of all beings ; and 
they form the fruits, the flowers, the leaves of the Tree of 
Being. Like the faithful Lakshmana, we will follow Rama 
wherever he leads us, we, our wives, children, kith and 

60 kin. House and field, garden and cottage we shall leave and 
follow Rama of perfect equanimity in joy and sorrow. We 
will take away with us our buried wealth, corn, ornaments, 
horse and kine. The ruined courts, the broken doors and the 
mouldering walls will form a fit background to the bare 

65 seats thick with dust, the ant-hills and the haunts of the 
mischievous rat and the cobra of fatal beauty. Hall and 
court, chamber and shrine, portico and terrace will serve as 
the busy promenade of the beasts of the field and the fowl of 
the air. Not a hand to lay the dust or sweep the floor ; 

70 chant or charm, offering or incense, bright lamps or tuneful 
bells will no more grace our hapless tenements. The house- 
hold gods will flee the spot. As when plague or famine stalks 
through the land, marking its path with ruined cities and 
decaying corpses, town and hamlet are abandoned in haste 

75 by the affrighted people, this fair Ayodhya will be a howling 
wilderness strewed with broken vessels and whitening 
skeletons. And Kaikeyi of infamous memory will hold 
sway over her capital in all its funeral pomp and glory. 
Our Ayodhya goes with Rama ; and our forest extends over 

gO where he is not, Birds and beasts from forest depths and 

mountain lair, the cruel tiger, the timid hare, the lion, and 

^ the elephant will quit their ancient haunts ; they will yield 

the pathless wilds to us to range and take this god-forsaken 


city in exchange. The carnivorous tiger, the busy crow that 85 
feeds on fruit and offal, the spotted deer, the Meeting lamb 
and the lowing kine that know no guiltier food than emerald 
grass, will walk fearlessly through the deserted squares, the 
crumbling halls and the shattered terraces. And Kaikeyi 
with her precious son is welcome to rule m state and glory 90 
over the dying town. Ours be the happy lot to range the 
green woods in peace and comfort." 

Rama heard them all, but without the least suspicion 
of annoyance or sorrow. With a lordly gait as of some 
maddened elephant, he walked on to the palace of bis 95 
father that rose to the sky like the Kailas peak. He 
took his way through the veteran guards at every gate and 
came upon Sumantra ?unk in the depths of hopeless 
despair and grief. Rama, the fountain of ineffable bliss, 
said to him with a smile " Friend Sumantra ! May I request 100 
you to announce my presence here to his majesty," 

Resolved to exile himself to the dark forests that his 
father's promise might be well-kept, he stood there and 
with him Seeta and Lakshmana to take leave of his father. 



eternal and changeless One come down in mortal 
guise, strangely beautiful even as a rain-charged 
cloud, laid his commands upon Sumantra ; he roused him- 5 
self with a strong effort and sought the king in his harem. 
Dasaratha, in the relentless grip of a mighty grief, was 
sighing hot and furiously ; with a bleeding heart and a 
confused brain, his thoughts ever ran upon 
Sumantra had few equals, in tact, intelligence, adapfabilif 


or keen perception ; but the calamity that fell upon Rama 
prostrated him quite. With senses adrift, he clasped his 
hands in loyal devotion and exclaimed " Hail ! All hail 
to your majesty 1"; but the thought * Who knows what the 

15 king might say or do in the madness of his sorrow?' kept him 
back. After a long pause, he ventured in broken accents to 
say "Lord ! Rama, the darling of your heart, stands outside 
and craves leave to wait upon your majesty. That paragon 
of every virtue, human and divine, has bestowed his vast 

20 wealth on the brahmanas and his dependants ; he has bade 
adieu to his weeping friends ; and prays to see you before 
he starts to the forest I pray you admit him to your presence. 
The hero, crowned with each princely virtue, even as the 
noon-day sun girt with blazing rays, means to seek the wilds. 

25 It behoves you to see him first." 

Dasaratha was by nature the soul of Dharma; no one 
fathomed the depths of his heart, profound as the shoreless 
ocean ; stainless as the akasa that pervades all, pure and 
impure, he appeared to be immersed in the joys and 

30 sorrows of the world, but was in reality supremely un- 
attached and dispassionate. His duty at the moment lay in 
keeping his promise to Kaikeyi ; and he called out to Su- 
mantra and said " Go, bid my wives here come to me on 
che wings of speed. With them I would even behold the 

35 face of my darling, whose heart is ever loyal to Dharma." 

Sumantra sped to the inner rooms and said to the wives 
of the king " His majesty commands your immediate pre- 
sence before him". And the three hundred and fifty wives 
of Dasaratha, preceded by Kausalya, wended their sorrowful 

40 wa y * ^eir husband's presence, with wan faces and 
lack-lustre eyes. Dasaratha saw them approach and bade 
Sumantra bring in his son, Rama, Seeta and Lakshraa- 
^pawere accordingly led into the presence of the monarch". 
The king saw tys darling child approach him with folded 


palms and bowed head of reverence when yet far off and 45 
sprang to clasp him in his arms. His wives ran after him 
with hollow looks of grief. The cruel tears blinded his eyes 
and the unhappy father could not see his way to where his 
son stood, but fell to the ground and fainted a few paces 
off. But, quicker than thought, Rama and Lakshmana 50 
caught him in their strong arms. The royal ladies were 
sore affrighted at the sight of their senseless lord and wailed 
"Ah ! alas ! ' ; they beat their heads and breasts in a tran- 
sport of grief. Their wild laments made discordant music 
and hateful, blended with the melodious tinkling of their 55 
ornaments. Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta gently bore the 
king to his bed and did everything in their power to bring 
him back to his senses. 

Restored to life and feeling after a while, the unfortu- 
nate monarch, battling in despair with the mighty waves of 60 
grief that threatened to overwhelm him, observed Rama 
standing before him with reverently folded palms. Then 
the prince addressed himself to the mighty ruler of Kosala 
and said " Your majesty is our lord, our guard ; I start for 
Dandaka even now and crave leave of you and your power- 65 
ful blessings I tried my best to dissuade Seeta and 
Lakshmana from following me to the woods. My truthful 
pleas were of no avail and they are obstinately bent upon 
seeking the forest depths with me I pray you cast this 
sorrow from your heart and give me leave to go." 70 

Then Dasaratha lifted eyes of shame to the bright and 
cheerful face of Rama, who eagerly sought leave of him to 
speed to the dreary forests, and said in faltering accents 
"Rama, I granted, in an evil moment, some boons to Kaikeyi 
and have been greivously duped in return. All my acts are 75 
unjust and unreasonable. I am no more master of myseH. 
Set me aside and rule over this Ayodhya in my place/' # 

What profound thoughts and deep motives lay back 


of this apparently incoherent wail of Dasaratha of profound 
80 intellect ! But Rama stood peerless in his knowledge and 
practice of the innermost mysteries of Dharma. Would he 
fail ? Would he be a prey to lure and delusion ? He clasped 
his hands in low reverence and replied "Lord ! May you live 
long and reign over this happy earth for thousands of years. 
95 I go to reside in the woods. It shall never be said that you 
fell away from truth for the sake of my unworthy self. Nine 
years, then five, will pass away in the twinkling of an eye, * 
happy trip. My word kept, I hope to be blessed enough 
to lay my head at your feet and serve you ever." 
90 Bound by the mighty though invisible chains of Dharma 
in the guise of his plighted word ; goaded without rest by 
the tireless Kaikeyi, who ever hissed into his ear, " This day 
Rama shall sleep in the woods. He shall not lay his head 
in the haunts of men"; anon struck to the heart, past bearing, 
95 with the grief of parting from his darling child,dearer to him 
than life itself, he cried with streaming eyes and broken 
accents " Rama ! go if you will. May you win hereby 
the highest good and happiness in this world and the next. 
May every good walk before you during your stay in the 

100 woods. May no harm come to you nor fear, from the beasts, 
the birds and the insects of the forests. So, go in peace and 
safety and come back to me in a trice. Your righteous soul 
never knows what it is to prove disloyal to truth ; your heart 
is ever centred in the practice of the highest Dharma ; and 

1U5 wou ld any one seek to shake your resolve, deliberately and 
consciously made ? But, I will not hear of your leaving 
us to-night, nay, not in the least. Spend the night with 
us ; bless our aged eyes with the sight of your bright and 
lovely self. Let every comfort and luxury be yours ; and 

110 y u ma y ta ^ e y ur departure, if you must, by break of day. 
Let us at least have the pleasure of being with you, be it for 
one short night. Darling ! My hair stands on end with 


arnaze and fear when I contemplate, from any standpoint, 
the course of action you have sternly chosen to adopt. 
You had the heart and courage to put away from you every 115 
comfort and luxury in life, that is yours by right and had 
dared to betake yourself to the howling wilderness untrod 
by man. I swear most solemnly upon Truth that this is 
not of my doing ; my heart countenances not this act of 
cruelty and shame. Cast your eyes on this Kaikeyi that stands 120 
at my elbow, like a smouldering fire under its white robe of 
ashes. Her brain can hatch schemes and plots of diaboli- 
cal cruelty ; her heart knows not virtue or compassion ; she 
has basely taken advantage of the boons I granted her of 
yore ; she has played upon my loyalty to Truth and my 125 
infatuation for her to wring my reluctant consent to this 
act of shame. She came among us to foul the fair 
name of our race and uproot the righteous traditions of our 
forefathers, The boons she has cozened out of me have 
been her weapons to seat her Bharataon the throne and 130 
send you to the dreary woods. You would even obey to the 
utmost the unholy commands of this wretch. Ah ! What 
magnanimity of soul! What unapproachable nobility of heart ! 
Nay, I am denied even the pleasure of thinking so. You 
are my first-born and your hands should lead me across the 135 
dark realms of death to the bright worlds of light. On you 
rests the heavy responsibility. It is no wonder that you 
should see to it that your father breaks not his plighted 
word, does not stain his soul with a he. And no one has a 
stronger claim to it than you." 140 

Rama and Lakshmana heard their sire entreat them in 
heart-rending accents to stay there for a night at least ; 
they grieved unspeakably to think that they were not 
fortunate enough to rejoice in the company of their parents 
yet one more night. Then Rama replied to Dasaratha 145 
and said " Lord ! If I indulge myself this night here in 


comfort and luxury, pleasure and pomp, where shall I look 
for them tomorrow in the woods ? I prefer to depart to ttte 
woods than taste of the sweets of royalty for a fetf hours, 

150 Here do I renounce this broad earth, the countries on it and 
the people, corn and wealth ; give it to Bharata. I have 
made up my mind to abide in the woods and my resolve 
fa unshaken. You are known all over the worlds as uiie, 
whom none seeks m vain. Pleased with Kaikeyi and rightly 

155 so, you have granted her some boons; keep them to the very 

letter. Let your fair .fame be undimmed that your word 

was ever well-kept. I will reside for ten years and four 

among the hermits, trying to fulfil your promise to Kaikeyi. 

" Woe is me that I should live to hear from your lips 

160 such cruel words as 'Set me aside and rule in my place ! ' 
What atrocious sin ! This very moment Bharata should be 
invested with the lordship of this earth without the slightest 
delay or hesitation. Never should your heart harbour the 
faintest suspicion of any desire on my part to rule over this 

165 kingdom, to taste of its pleasures. Would I gain thereby 
the merit and the happiness that accrue of carrying out your 
majesty's behests ? Why should you grieve at all ? Why 
shed tears ? The Lord of the rivers, the Ocean god, is he 
ever known to be disturbed, unsettled ? This realm, its luxu- 

170 ries, this power, this pomp do stink m my nostrils ; I want 
them not. Nay, my Seeta or the bright world of the gods, 
or dear life itself have no charms for me ; I am alive to one 
thing, and one only your plighted word shall never go for 
naught You are my lord, my living god. I swear before 

175 you on the merit I have laid up till now, on the truth I 

speak. It is not in me to stay here a moment more than is 

absolutely ftecsssary. It is not seemly that you should grieve 

over this ; my resolve to live in the woods is unshakeri, * 

Besides,* I g to the woods not solely to' carry 6ut 

180 your commands! Have I not passed my word to Kaikeyi 


that I would go to the forest ? Should I not keep it ? You 
need not grieve in the slightest at the imaginary diffi- 
culties and dangers of our forest life. Our days will 
pass Qway all merrily in the wood-world teaming with 
beasts and birds of infinite variety. A father is the god 185 
of gods. So, I regard you as my highest deity and 
desire to obey your behests. You are sure to see me 
here at the end of fourteen years. So, it is extremely 
untoward that you should grieve over me now. The 
whole world looks up to you in supreme confidence to 190 
wipe away its tears and infuse courage into its heart to 
bear up under woes and calamities ; and whom shall it 
turn to, if you give way to sorrow and despair ? This 
town, this fair Ayodhya do I renounce ; give it to 
Bharata. This broad realm, this Kosala do I renounce ; 195 
let it be Bharata's. This earth and all it contains do 
I renounce ; let Bharata hold sway over it. This very 
moment I depart hence for the woods to lead there a 
happy life and keep your plighted word ever true. You 
will not see me here until that promise is redeemed. 200 
This earth with its mountains, rivers, corn, wealth and 
people; let Bharata rule happily over it. There is 
not in my heart even the suspicion of any hankering for 
it. I should see that your word to the queen Kaikeyi 
is well kept. My heart turns away from selfish com- 205 
fort, or unparalleled power and pomp. It ever yearns 
to discharge the dharma so highly lauded by the 
great fulfilment of a father's promise. Hence, it is 
absolutely unreasonable for you to grieve on my ac- 
count. What shall it profit me, this kingdom, its power 210 
and pleasures or Sita or my life itself, if, through me, your 
plighted word is kept not ? Well, your promise shall ever 
be accomplished. You need not even dream that my 
life in the forest will know any sorrow or privation. 


215 Sweet fruits and roots will be my diet; mountains, 
rivers and lakes will delight me untiringly and enable 
me to pass days of joy in the variegated forests. " 

Thus did Rama seek to console the broken heart of 
his father, who essayed to clasp his darling son to his 

220 heart and fainted away from sheer grief. His wives 
were horrified at the sight and lifted their voices aloud 
in wailings and lamentations. Even Sumantra, the old 
and the staid, wept aloud and fainted away, so mighty 
was that wave of sorrow. The whole place resounded 

225 with groans, moans, wails and laments ; but Kaikeyi's 
iron heart was never touched and her face lost nothing 
of its increasing brightness and joy. 



> IGHING hot and fierce, Sumantra shook his head 
in quick impatience ; he dashed his palms to- 
gether in wild wrath ; he gnashed his teeth ; his 
eyes shot fire ; and unspeakable grief banished the colour 
from his face. Well he knew that Kaikeyi had lost the 
love of Dasaratha, every atom of it ; he shot his fiery 
shafts of censure and reproach at her heart and laid bare 

10 her wickedness and wiles. " Cruel woman and heart 
less ! His majesty Dasaratha here is the lord of this broad 
earth and its countless millions. Your lord is he and 
besides, the husband that clasped your hand in holy wed- 
lock. Him have you slighted and deserted ; there is no 

15 saying what atrocity you will not commit. You have 
foully murdered your husband ; and it goes without 
saying that it is only a question of time with you to do to 
death every member of your doomed race, His majesty, 


Dasaratha, is no ordinary mortal, no common king. 
Easier to vanquish Indra, the lord of the celestials ; 20 
a lighter task to shake the Himalayas to its roots ; a 
more hopeful enterprise to disturb the mighty ocean 
to its very depths. Yet, your fiendish arts, your cruel 
words and crueller deeds wring the heart of that peer- 
less emperor, Dasaratha. Nay, this reason alone is 25 
more than enough. He is the brightest jewel in the 
diadem of the Ikshwaku line. He is a hero of heroes. 
He is your lord and protector ; your atrocious boons, he 
has granted them without a murmur, without a pang 
of regret. 30 

"Let be ; is he not the husband that grasped your 
hand in solemn promise in the presence of the God of 
fire ? Your sins and your virtues lie on him and he is 
accountable for them all. Seek not to slight such a one, 
for, it will exterminate you, root and branch. A good 35 
wife and true may put away her sons ; but, it is a heinous 
sin to stray from the footsteps of her husband on the 
path of dharma. Verily, millions of sons count for noth- 
ing with a woman before her husband. 

u ltis a tradition in the royal line of Ikshwaku that 40 
the eldest son sits on the throne of his father. But, you 
seek to violate that royal usage and custom, even during 
the life of his majesty. Well, let your son rule over this 
broad realm ; let him please himself with the semblance 
and power of a king ; and we will follow Rama wherever 45 
he goes. It is a very fair and charitable inference from 
your rapid and successful progress on the path of wicked- 
ness that no brahmanas, no good men or great will 
ever darken your kingdom even for a moment. It is an 
inconceivable wonder to me that this too patient earth 50 
does not cleave in twain and whelm you in the lowest 
depths of the nether worlds, you the foul perpetrator 


af many an unspeakable horror* It passes my coifa- 
p&hen&on to think that Vastshtha and the othbr 

55 Brahmarshis of boundleftft rtiight do not consume ybii to 
ashes with their words of power, more fatal than the 
hlaeing rod of Death. Your hellish obstiriacy to drivb 

' Rama to the dreary forests desbrvtes that and far more, 
What a marvel of intelligence must hfe be* who uproots 

60 the fragrant mango tree bowed down with Luscious 
fruits and grows with infiriite care and trouble, the 
bitter m&rgoSa tree* enriching it with rdre manure ahtt 
watering it with sweet milk ! What a marvel of intelli- 
gence and wisdom is our monarch Dasaratha, who exiles 

65 to the dreary fbfefets, all unjustly, Ramabhadra, his 
eldest son, the fountain of every virtue and excellence 
and t&kes infinite J>ains to win a smile from your wicked 

" A fool I aih to accuse you ; as well expect a mirgosa 

70 to dtop hofaey. The daughter takes after the mother. 
Ytwi but inherit what your rtiother had and no mbre her 
dbubtful virtues, her confirmed vices. It is an open 
secret that she that borfe you is a monster of wicked- 
ness. In the old days, a Gattdhdrva instructed your 

75 father in the knowledge of the language of birds, 
bedfetfe and insects. Their hearts were an op&i book to 
him. One night he was reclining on his couch ahd 
happ&ied to listen to the talk of the dnts that were 
ttiarchitig ott the floor below. It was so funny that he 

80 laughed totid and long. Your mother, who was by his 
teide* took it that he was laughing at her expense and 
ttttitod upon him in fury. " Sir ! What provoked you to 
Ittugh noW ? Let me have the bare it uth and nothing 
tftee." "It ifrillgiireihe great pleasure to oblige 

85 tt^lted the kiflg, 4I btit/UnfbrtunatelJn 1 will be a 
the awt mom^ht, I hold the secret cm that 


"I care a steaw " rejoined you* ihother M for ydu. Die 
df livty it is all One to me ; but you shall tell h*8 
provoked jrttU td laugh at me. " The Kfckay& kibfc 
in a fix ; he hastened to the Gandharva that tattgHt 90 
him the secret and asked his advice on the matte*. 
"You are an ass" said his friend "to concern 
for her. Let her die or drown or burh or blo^ 
td atoms. Never yield to her obstinacy ahd draw 
fevil and misfortune updti yourself." Then a heaVy 95 
weight was lifted from his heart ; he" gave your mothbr 
such a chastisement as she tobuld tltever forget and 
drove hfer away from his kingdom ; and his life 3incfe 
has been one of unalloyed peace and happiness. Ydti 
but tread in the footsteps of your wicked and ittfatafotifc 100 
tndther and hdund on your pdor husband And king to 
stain his hands with heinous crimes. What says the 
man of wisdom? The girl takes after the niother and 
thte bojr after the father.' Ybu ate but one tnore p*dctf 
of the truth of the fedyirigi Cfcst Away you* pig-Hfea- 105 
d0d obstinacy ; heed well the fcdtnniafcds of yolit 4 ld*ti 
and husband. Alldw the corbnation of RAiiia W t>rd- 
deed ; let your heart go out in swfeet compassibtt tfcl the 
whole created universe, animate and inaminate ; savfe 
them from danger and death. Shut your ears afeaiitet 110 
the whispered counsels of black-hearted wtetches ; do 
ndt drive your husband to violate the fait traditions of 
the noble line of Ikshwaku and place the crown on the 
head df the younger while the elder and the laVful hfcir 
is unjustly put away. Say not Well and what df riiy 115 
hard-wota boons ?' King Dasaratha is the soul of virttte ; 
he is the lord of boundless wealth and riches ; he is the 
flower of valour and heroism; he holds sway over this 
broad earth and all it contains ; if at all he has a weak- 
ness, it is but his extreme compassion; and would he 120 


plight his word to you and fail to fulfil it ? See, he is 
willing and ready to give you in its place as much as 
you will have of gold, silver, gems, ornaments, corn, 
countries, servants, retainers, and conveyances. Pray, 

125 give leave to place the crown on the brows of Rama 
even now. He is the first born of our emperor; he 
stands unrivalled in knowledge and skill in the affairs 
of state ; his character and conduct is faultlessly pure ; 
he practises the dharma of the Kshatriyas-to overthrow 

130 the wicked and exalt the saintly ; his watchful care 
protects all beings even as himself and sees that dis- 
comfort danger come not near them ; he is an ideal 
hero ; let him receive this kingdom at your hands as a 
gift of love. 

135 " Know you not that dire shame and disgrace will 
dog your steps for all time, if, through, you, Rama be 
torn away from the side of his aged sire and con- 
demned to a dreary exile in the woods? Would the 
subjects of this realm have over them any other ruler 

140 but Rama ? If you seek to force their allegiance, you 
will depopulate the kingdom in a moment. So, let not 
your heart be afflicted with vain longings. Let Rama 
and no other be our king. If you will have him crown- 
ed, Dasaratha will retire to the forests even as his 

145 forefathers did before him. " 

Thus did Sumantra speak to Kaikeyi in her hus- 
band's presence, now gently, now in harsh and cutting 
words ; he tried every art of persuasion, of eloquence, 
of censure, of menace to turn her from her fell purpose. 

150 But his exhortations, his taunts, his entreaties were 
utterly powerless to bring the slightest repentance to her 
heart. Fierce anger convulsed her features'all the more ; 
obstinacy was made more obstinate, if possible. 




pflNDING that Kaikeyipaid not the slightest heed to 
J-' 9 the well-meant advice of Sumantra, the king 

was overcome with grief at the thought of his 5 
unwitting boons to Kaikeyi and their terrible conse- 
quences ; he turned to his faithful minister amidst a 
storm of sighs and tears and cried ".Order our armies, 
chariot, elephant, horse and foot, to accompany Rama 
wherever he goes. Let such high-bred courtezans go 10 
with the troops as steal away the hearts of men by 
their beauty, words and acts ; as also merchant princes, 
the masters of millions. Send along with the troops 
such as depend on Rama ; also those with whom he 
spends his leisure in testing their prowess and skill, 15 
with every convenience and comfort their heart could 
desire. Let diverse weapons and countless wains with 
oil, ghee and other household goods filled, follow him 
to the woods, while foresters and hunters, famed for 
woodland skill, clear the path. He shall hunt lion and 20 
elephant, tiger and boar ; drink the fast-flowing honey, 
bathe in many a holy stream and rivulet, and put away 
from his mind this kingdom and its concerns. Let my 
wealth of gold and corn be despatched to where goes 
Rama. Alas ! How could my darling boy, delicately 25 
nurtured, fare in the wild forests untrod by the foot of 
man ? He shall have a happy life of it there in the 
company of saintly sages and holy hermits, and per- 
form countless yagas in each pure spot, with aniple 
largess given, Bharata, the thrice-fortunate, shallrejgn 30 
over Ayodhya in ppmp and glory ; and my darlii^g boy 
Rama shall depart to the woods in royal style,' 1 

Kaikeyi heard this and mighty fear held her heart 
in its relentless grip ; terror tied her trembling tongue ; 

35 her face lost its colour and freshness. With a heavy 
heart and bloodless cheeks, she turned to Dasapttha 
and cried, " Ideal king ! And so, Bharata is to receive 
from you an empty realm, while the people, the troops, 
the wealth and corn, the treasure and all that goes to 

40 make life worth living goes with Rama, even as one 
who tastes the light foam and life of a heavenly drink 
and hands over to his best friend the lees and dregs, all 
dull and dead. Good sir! Kindly save yourself the 
trouble ; the noble gift had better be with the nobler 

45 giver ; " and she spat her venom at him, while thfc 
cruel words hissed forth from between her set teeth. 

Untouched by shame, abandoned to all finer and 
nobler feelings, she pierced the heart of hpr tpo-cojifi- 
ding husband with her barbed tongne. But, ths poor 

50 old king could but wring his hands in despair and wail 
plaintively, " Crueller than the venomed fangs of tlie 
deadly cobra ! I sink under the crushing load of grjef 
and misery ; and you, tiger-hearted, spur and go$d me 
to de$th i Goodly boons I gave you and got in return 

55 the curses of every object in creation, by consenting to 
exile Rama to the woods and crown Bharata instead. 
Wretch ! See you not that I am fulfilling your diabolical 
purpose to the very letter ? Why torture me further ? " 

Then, Kaikeyi turned upon him with withering 

60 contempt and said with a cruel smile : '* Pray enlighten 

my ignorance ; I see not how I pain you or cause you 

the least discomfort. Look here ; I but pray you fulfil 

me the promises made by you of yore all voluntarily, 

out of a grateful heart ; do I ask any favour of you ? 

65 Speak the truth righteous king I " 


44 BaseTminded wretch ! " cried Dasaratba " you 
ought to have anticipated all this and secured your 
boons accordingly. Why did you not ask me definitely 
not to send away from the kingdom its people an4 its 
wealth. You but want this realm for your precious 70 
son. Take it and stop at that. Your were stupid enough 
not to perceive the turn the affair would take ; and now, 
not all your bowlings, your tears and your curses could 
divert the consequences." 

The unwonted wrath of the weak and uxorious ?5 
king roused the slumbering fury of Kaikeyi. " Man ! 
This to me ! You do well, noble monarch, to boast of 
your high lineage and spotless fame to nie. Know I 
not the worthy traditions of your line ? Your ancestor 
Sagara, of happy memory, drove his first-born Asama- 80 
njas out of his kingdom, alone and unpitied. Rama 
deserves nothing better at your hands. Nay, it is so 
beautifully consistent with the royal traditions of the 
progeny of Ikshwaku. I should have defined the terms 
of my boons, is it ? I believe it is open to me to do so 85 
now or at any time. Know you of any limitation 
thereto ? " 

Dasaratha could but stare at her in fear and wonder* 
44 Alas ! " said he to himself, 4 * Is this a woman I see be* 
fore me or some cruel fiend broken loose from hell ? 90 
Basely did she dupe me to grant her boons and swear it 
by the most solemn oaths. She made me soil my hands 
with the most frightful and hideous crimes ; and not con- 
tent with that, she would wring from me now conditions 
never dreamt of before. " A storm of anger shook him 95 
to his very depths and he cried, " Fie, fie ! Silenee I 
Unough !*' Every one there hung his head in shame ^nd 
sorrow ; but Kaikeyi, bold and wicked, heeded it not in 
the least. 


100 Then Siddhartha, a wise and faithful counsellor of 
Dasaratha, was inflamed with ire at the shameless 
words and fiendish wickedness of the favourite queen 
of the monarch. The snows of age lay heavy upon his 
head, replete with the hoarded wisdom of ages ; Dasa- 

105 ratha held himself proud to honor him highly, for his 
utter candour and straight speech won the heart of the 
king. The cruel taunt flung at Rama was too much for 
him and he cried, " Asamanjas, the cruel, laid his hands 
on the children as they played in the streets, flung them 

110 into the foaming flood of Sarayu and clapped his hands 
in glee as he watched their frantic struggles for life. 
The citizens one and all were furiously incensed against 
him, and said to Sagara " Lord ! If you have the welfare 
of this realm at your heart, choose well. Drive forth 

115 your son Asamanjas from your dominions ; or witness 
our departure to other countries." And to them replied 
Sagara " Well, what is the matter with you ? What fear 
you ? " The people said, " Your first born Asamanjas is 
afflicted with a homicidal mania. He lays his hands on 

120 our children as they play in the streets, casts them in 
the roaring waters of the Sarayu and laughs at their 
death- throes and the bubbles that rise up as they sink." 
Sagara bowed to their wish and banished his son 
Asamanjas, his wife and his people from his kingdom 

125 for ever. Asamanjas atoned for his heinous sin by 
leading a homeless life in the forests and the moun- 
tains with spade and basket, hoe and axe. [ It is still 
reported in Belgaum that Appay Deasy was wont to 
amuse himself " by making several young and beauti- 

130 ful woman stand side by side on a narrow balcony, 
without a parapet, overhanging the deep res*ervoir at 
the new place in Nipani. He used then to pass along 
-the line of trembling creatures, and suddenly thrusting 


one of them headlong into the water below, he used to 
watch her drowning, and derive pleasure from her dying 135 
agonies History of the Belgaum District by H. J. 
Stokes M.S.C.] Now what crime, what sin do you 
impute to Rama ? Why would you banish him to the 
woods ? The furthest reaches of our memory show not 
any fault, any blot, any stain with which we could con- 140 
nect his name. Easier task it were to discover foul 
blot or dark stain in the resplendant Queen of Night. 
Let be. Rama might be guilty of some secret sin or dark 
vice. We know it not ; perhaps your keen eye might 
have pierced to the depths of his heart and brought it 145 
to light. If so, let us know ; Rama shall be driven out 
of the kingdom this very moment and you will have won 
our profound gratitude for all time. But if one walks 
upon the path of the righteous and carefully refrains 
from causing harm or evil to his fellow-beings, it is but 150 
suicide to abandon him basely ; it is a wanton and un- 
holy defiance of the great Dharma. Be he gifted with 
the strength, the valor and the splendour of the Lord 
of the shining Ones, he would be but a heap of ashes 
should he lend himself to such fiendish cruelty. So 155 
place no bar in the way of Rama's coronation. Would 
you lay yourself open to eternal infamy and have the 
world point its finger of scorn at you?" And so, he tried 
by many a skilful argument; by many a persuasive 
appeal to her pride, vanity and self-interest to dissuade 160 
her from her fell purpose. 

Dasaratha was convinced beyond any doubt that 
she would never heed the good counsel of the wise man; 
overwhelming grief choked his voice as he cried : "Sin- 
ful wretch 1 Siddhartha's golden words find no favour 165 
with you and grate on your ears. Alas I you see not 
what would conduce to the ultimate good and happiness 


of ymir husband who confined in you too well 1 Let be. 
Know you what tends to your good ? Base counsel and 
baser act come easy to you. Yow have nothing in 
Common with the good and the great in thought, word 
or deed. I put away from me this kingdom, its wealth, 
its pomp and luxury and go with Rama. May Emperor 
Bharata rule over this realm long and happily, with 
175 you to share his power and confidence." 



> UT Kama would not have any one come between 
him and his duty ; he would not have it said 
14 Rama was only too eager to obey Kaikeyi's be- 
hests, because, he knew full well that there were others 
who would argue with or entreat, or beg, or bribe or 
coerce or cofcen Kaikeyi into freeing him from his pro- 
mise." So, he turned to his sire all meekly and said, 
10 * Lord ! I have put behind me power and pomp, comfort 
and luxury ; my heart seeks them not. My home is in 
the forests ; what have I to do with troops or treasure ? 
It is only ft fool who makes another a present of a lordly 
elephant and refuses to part with its heel-ropes. Verily 
15 the rope would be no greater strain on the resources of 
one who could afford to give away an elephant. Every 
thing that you intend to give me or send with me to the 
woods I have already made over to Bharata. Let my 
attendant* bring me the dress of bark I should put on. 
20 Twice seven years should I dwell in the mefry woods, 
baskets, spades and axes be brought too." 
Nfc sootttr were the Words out of his mouth than 
i, aft uatonchted by shAtne, handed him the1m*k 


and said, " Here it is. Let me see you put it on." 
Rama received them all respectfully from her, put away 25 
his gorgeous robes and donned the dress of bark that 
lowly hermits affect. Lakshmana was no whrt be- 
hindhand. Dasaratha, their king and father, gazed at 
ihe scene With eyes from which all light and reason 
had fled. Then Seeta cast her eyes on the uncouth 30 
garb that was given her and, used as she was to gemmed 
robes of priceless worth* trembled even as a lonely 
fawn at the sight of the hunter's net ; she knew not 
how to put them on and looked upon them in surprise 
and confusion. But a true wife and loyal, she would 35 
faithfully walk in the footsteps of her saintly husband ; 
she turned her tear-dimmed eyes to Rama, who shone 
in his divine beauty even as the king of the Gandharvas 
and said, "Lord ! I am ashmed to confess my ignor- 
ance. I would give any thing to know how the holy 40 
hermits in the forests adjust these coats of bark/ 1 She 
tried, all awkwardly, to fit a strip round her neck and 
blushed in shame at her failure. At once Rama took 
it fof her and fitted it upon the dress of white silk she 
wore. 45 

Rama, the first-born and the heir-apparent of 
Dasaratha, the mighty Emperor of Kosala, adjusted 
with his own hand the dress of bark that hermits wear, 
round the shoulders of Seeta, the daughter of kitig 
Janaka. That dreadful sight was too much for the 50 
royal ladies, and they raised their voices and cried 
" Alas ! what horrible sin have we to expiate, that we 
are made to witness such unheard of atrocity ? Rama ! 
your father laid not his commands upon Seeta to be 
take herself to the woods ; nor* did that devil in human 55 
shape ask it of him. So, grant our request that she 
remain with us till you come back Irom th* forest in 


fulfilpept of ypur word to your father. Let Lakshrnana 
ga with you if he must. Is she fitted in any way to 

60 lead the rough life of the forests which knows not man^ 
even, like the hermits and the anchorites that seek it 
of their own choice ? You are cruel enough to us in not 
deigning to bless our eyes and heart with a sight of 
your fair self here ; temper your cruelty with mercy 

65 by leaving Seeta with us. We entreat you to grant 
our prayer anyhow." But Seeta was sore afraid that 
Rama would snatch at this excuse to leave her behind ; 
so t she made haste to importune him to fit on her the 
dress of bark. And Rama did so. 

70 Then Maharshi Vasishtha, the venerable guru of 
the royal line of Ikshwaku, grew wroth when he saw 
S^eta's fair form enfolded in the rough coat of bark and 
exclaimed, " Kaikeyi ! Lost to all sense of duty ! Evil 
hearted ! Evil fate to the race that bore you and to the 

75 race that took you in! Is it not enough that you 
cheated , vilely your lord the king ? You would give 
free reins to your dark schemes and wicked desires, an 
utter stranger to every thing good and noble. Seeta 
shall not go to the forest, but shall rule this realm from 

80 the throne that is Rama's by every right. The Holy 
Writ declares that the wife is one half of the husband ; 
and it is but right and just that she be the lord of this 
kingdom in the absence of Rama ; but, if she would 
have it not, and would follow Rama to the woods, let 

85 us all go with her. Let the officers of the Government 
and the common people follow Raghava wherever he 
goes and take with them their wives, children, wealth, 
kine, horses, servants ai)d conveyances. Bharata and 
Satrughna will, I am sure, follow their brother in his 

90 exile and render him dutiful service, clad in bark mantles, 
hermitwise, Then this broad realm will be untrod by 


human feet. * You will be the proud monarch of all you 
survey. The stately trees, the beasts and birds will 
keep you sweet company. None shall dispute yoto 
right. From here right to the confines, you will be the 95 
lord of the fowl and the brute. 1 You are wickedness 
incarnate. You .have come among the people here as 
the dread messenger of death, It is no kingdom where 
Rama is not. Ayodhya goes with him, 

" If Bharata were the son born from the loins of 100 
Dasaratha, he will not fail to take after bis father in prin- 
ciple and practice. Would he consent to rule over this 
kingdom that is wrung from his father, from his brother 
and from the countless millions all unwillingly ? Would 
he have the heart to call you his mother ? Would he 105 
dare to live by your side, the foul murderess of his 
father and your husband ? Would he take the kingdom 
from your hands when he knows full well the royal 
tradition that the younger brother does not take prece- 
dence of the elder on the throne of their race ? It is even 110 
possible that you take a flying leap from here to the 
highest point of the sky and alight safely ; but it is 
utterly impossible that Bharata will ever swerve, even 
a hair-breadth, from the strict line of dharma. You pile 
sin upon sin, crime upon crime only secure to your 115 
precious son the utmost of power and wealth. Lo ! 
The scales will fall from your eyes and you will see that 
you have wrought him but destruction and woe. Would 
Rama depart for the woods and any object in creation 
lag behind ? Behold, Kaikeyi ! The very beasts, birds 120 
and trees will gaze fondly on Rama as he passes by 
them on his way to the forest. This day shall you 
behold the miracle with your eyea. So, snatch the ugly 
drees of bark from the fair bands of Seeta and give 
your daughter-in-law priceless robes and ornaments. 125 


Why should she bind on the mantle of the woodland 
folk? Dark-hearted daughter of the goodly king of 
Keka-ya ! your boon but compasses the exile of Rama 
and of no other. So, Seeta shall, if she so desires, ac- 

130 company Kama to ths woods surrounded by her usual 
comforts and luxury. Her retainers and conveyances, 
her costly robes and priceless ornaments shall go with 
her and every thing she might desire." 

So spake Vasishtha of immeasurable greatness and 

135 might ; yet, Seeta would not be turned aside from her 
resolve to adopt the life and habit of her husband. Her 
hueart was bent upon living in the forest in hermit-guise 
like her lord and husband. 


jEETA, the beloved wife of Rama, the lord of the 
universe, stood there clad in the rude dress of 

5 bark like any waif or outcast. Every one there, 

man aiad woman, rich and poor, gentle and simple turned 
to Dasaratha and cried, " Fie, fie ! shame upon you, king ! 
Right noble is your act and all worthy of your line and 
state." Sixty thousand years had he reigned over them 

10 as an ideal king, fulfilling the dearest wishes of their 
heart. His ears had been accustomed to hear nothing 
but unqualified praise of himself from their lips. The 
unwonted censure and condemnation from those nearest 
and dearest to his heart was more than he could bear. 

15 " What have I to do with life or fame or dharma here- 
after ? I care not what befalls me or others, now 
that the world has cast me out as branded with such 
infamy !" He heaved hot sighs and cried out, " Kaikeyi I 


wickedest wretch! Seeta shall not proceed to the 
forest in the garments of a devotee. Of tender youth, 20 
gently nurtured, brought up in the lap of luxury and 
comfort, it is but true what the holy Vasishtha said 
that she is all unmeet to share the hardships of a forest 
life. Of utter purity, she knows no other observance, 
no other vow than to follow in the footsteps of her lord 25 
and husband. A stranger to all guile, whom has she 
harmed in thought, word or deed ? The favourite child 
of the royal Janaka, how has she sinned that she 
should wander in the frightful forest, clad in the 
rough garb of hermits ? Let her fling away far from 30 
her the uncouth raiment you have so kindly presented to 
her. Dare you assert that my boon to you included this ? 
If she is inclined to follow Rama, let her go in all the 
splendour and luxury of her high rank, with such robes 
and ornaments as she might fancy. Grim Death calls 35 
out to me ; else I would not have sworn to you to fulfil 
your wishes, whatever they might be. And it has ended 
thus, fatally for me and all atrociously unjust to Rama. 
Is it not enough ? Blinded by ambition and envy, you 
seek to make me your instrument to banish Seeta too 40 
to the woods. But, know you the awful consequences 
that await such an act of fiendish cruelty ? The aged 
bamboo brings forth fair blossoms, but expires the very 
moment ; even so, my heinous sin would annihilate me. 

Base plotter ! Grant that Rama is your foe ; grant 45 
that he has wronged you woefully ; grant that he stands 
in the way of your son's securing the throne. But 
cast your cruel eye at Seeta, whose glances, soft and full, 
shame the frighted fawn that roams the forest. Has 
she anything to do with guile or deceit ? She trembles at 50 
the very mention of harm or treachery to others ; her 
heart knows no other deity but her lord and husband. 


Dharma has for her no other meaning than that of 
devout and faithful service to him. Such a one could, on 

55 no occasion, have dreamt of doing you the slightest evil. 
Sin incarnate I Is it not enough, the one dark sin you 
have committed of driving Rama to the woods, to secure 
for you an eternity of woe and suffering in the deepest 
and darkest hell ? What mean you further by heaping 

60 sin upon sin, crime upon crime, by tearing Laks- 
mana and Seeta from their happy home and sending 
them after Rama to share his misery ? I would give 
anything to know the dire fate that awaits you on the 
other side of death. It is no ordinary ingenuity or 

65 cleverness that could guess the kind of hell reserved 
for you. In the name of common justice, recall the 
promise I made you. Did you not send for Rama on 
the eve of his coronation and tell him in my presence, 
" Put away from you all thoughts of being consecrated 

70 as the heir-apparent to the throne and betake yourself 
for twice seven years to the forests, clad in the garb of 
hermits*; did I, the impotent listener to that shameful 
proposal, consent to the banishment of any other but 
Rama ? What foul fiend put it into your head to demand 

75 that Seeta too should accompany her husband to the 
forest, clad as a homeless hermit ! You overstep the 
bounds of my boon to you and invite untold eons of 
misery in hell". So raved he, the forlorn monarch, steep- 
ed in hopeless woe; the billows of grief, caused by being 

80 torn apart from the darling of his heart, closed over his 
head and he fainted right away. 

He came to himself after a while and sat with droop- 
ing head and shame-faced look; when Rama, ready 
to start on his momentous journey, addressed him 
85 reverentially and said: " Mighty Emperor! Soul pf 


righteousness! Yon, Kausaly a, my mother, is held in high 
estimate by all who know her ; the winters of age have 
dowered her with all womanly virtues of head and heart; 
convinced beyond a doubt that the highest dharma lies 
in keeping a promise, she allows not the least sign of 90 
her measureless grief to betray itself; she bears you no 
grudge ; she blames you not. The world knows you as 
the liberal bestower of gifts and boons to whomsoever 
may beg them of you ; none was ever known to go back, 
but he was richer for having come to you. Hence, I too 95 
am emboldened to beg of you a boon ; I pray that I 
might find favour in your eyes. My mother, bereft of 
her only son, is all powerless to stem the torrent of grief 
of separation, poor soul ! This is her first and worst 
experience. High favour have you shown her and 100 
unique consideration, in that she is the queen of your 
heart and realm. Yet I would that you, in response to 
my prayers, accord her a kinder and more considerate 
treatment. I entreat you to watch over her that she 
sink not under the heavy burden of .sorrow and misery, 105 
engendered of constant thought of myself, far away from 
her. She is as ignorant of the ways of the world and 
its wiles even as a babe unborn. Your Majesty is her 
only stay and support. May I hope that you will not 
leave her to the tender mercies of her rivals and enemies. 110 
Your love and respect are the only hold she has on life 
till she sees me again. Pardon me if, once again, I 
proffer my prayers to you. She can not bear to be 
away from me for an hour. Mighty Lord ! More puis- 
sant than Mahendra ! I trust you to see that she quits 115 
not, during my absence, that care-worn tenement of 
hers, wrapt in constant thought of her darling boy far 
away in the dreary woods. I trust you to avoid me 
the dire necessity of seeking for my mother in th$ dread 


120 haunts of the Lord of Death, on my return here from 
my sojourn in the woods,' 1 


spake Rama in pitiful and suppliant accents, as 
he stood before all in his humble hermit garb ; 

5 his sire and the royal ladies were convulsed 

with woe and could scarcely keep their senses. Burn- 
ing tears shut his eyes to the bright presence of Rama, 
while heavy grief choked his utterance. For a while 
he sat senseless and still, a prey to despair; then 

10 memory came back to him and with it his incoherant 
ravings about the child of his heart : " Alas ! woe is 
me I A dreadful sinner I should have been in my past 
births and torn apart countless cows from their forlorn 
calves. Or, may be I tortured innocent and defenceless 

15 creatures with fiendish cpuelty. Else this unparalleled 
misfortune would not have befallen me. The hour of 
my deliverance from this body strikes not a moment 
before its time ; it should exhaust the karma for which 
it was intended. Ah 1 sweeter by far is death and more 

20 welcome than this cruel and pitiless torture, never- 
ceasing, at the hands of Kaikeyi. But, the life-breaths 
quit not the body the sooner for me or for any other help- 
less victim of misery. I live to see, with these aged 
eyes of mine, my darling son Rama, refulgent as smoke- 

25 less flame, put away his robes of state and swathe his 
shapely limbs in the rude dress of bark that hermits 
affect ; yet Death flees me. It is to me a wonderful 
mystery that a weak woman could be so dead-set upon 
securing her interests, and millions upon millions should , 


in consequence, writhe in the pitiless grip of sorrow 30 
and misery." Blinded with tears, speechless with 
woe, he but cried out " Rama " and fainted away. All 
too soon he came back out of it and took up the burden 
of his woe. Said he to Suin