The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 1 - 4 books and stories free download online pdf in English

The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 1 - 4

Canto IV.The Rhapsodists.

When to the end the tale was brought,

Rose in the sage's mind the thought;

“Now who throughout this earth will go,

And tell it forth that all may know?”

As thus he mused with anxious breast,

Behold,in hermit's raiment dressed,

Kuśáand Lava56came to greet

Their master and embrace his feet.

The twins he saw,that princely pair

Sweet-voiced,who dwelt beside him there

None for the task could be more fit,

For skilled were they in Holy Writ;

And so the great Rámáyan,fraught

With lore divine,to these he taught:

The lay whose verses sweet and clear

Take with delight the listening ear,

That tell of Sítá's noble life

And Rávaṇ's fall in battle strife.

Great joy to all who hear they bring,

Sweet to recite and sweet to sing.

For music's sevenfold notes are there,

And triple measure,57wrought with care

With melody and tone and time,

And flavours58that enhance the rime;

Heroic might has ample place,

And loathing of the false and base,

With anger,mirth,and terror,blent

With tenderness,surprise,content.

When,half the hermit's grace to gain,

And half because they loved the strain,

The youth within their hearts had stored

The poem that his lips outpoured,

Válmíki kissed them on the head,

As at his feet they bowed,and said;

“Recite ye this heroic song

In tranquil shades where sages throng:

Recite it where the good resort,

In lowly home and royal court.”

The hermit ceased.The tuneful pair,

Like heavenly minstrels sweet and fair,

In music's art divinely skilled,

Their saintly master's word fulfilled.

Like Ráma's self,from whom they came,

They showed their sire in face and frame,

[pg 011]

As though from some fair sculptured stone

Two selfsame images had grown.

Sometimes the pair rose up to sing,

Surrounded by a holy ring,

Where seated on the grass had met

Full many a musing anchoret.

Then tears bedimmed those gentle eyes,

As transport took them and surprise,

And as they listened every one

Cried in delight,Well done!Well done!

Those sages versed in holy lore

Praised the sweet minstrels more and more:

And wondered at the singers'skill,

And the bard's verses sweeter still,

Which laid so clear before the eye

The glorious deeds of days gone by.

Thus by the virtuous hermits praised,

Inspirited their voice they raised.

Pleased with the song this holy man

Would give the youths a water-can;

One gave a fair ascetic dress,

Or sweet fruit from the wilderness.

One saint a black-deer's hide would bring,

And one a sacrificial string:

One,a clay pitcher from his hoard,

And one,a twisted munja cord.59

One in his joy an axe would find,

One braid,their plaited locks to bind.

One gave a sacrificial cup,

One rope to tie their fagots up;

While fuel at their feet was laid,

Or hermit's stool of fig-tree made.

All gave,or if they gave not,none

Forgot at least a benison.

Some saints,delighted with their lays,

Would promise health and length of days;

Others with surest words would add

Some boon to make their spirit glad.

In such degree of honour then

That song was held by holy men:

That living song which life can give,

By which shall many a minstrel live.

In seat of kings,in crowded hall,

They sang the poem,praised of all.

And Ráma chanced to hear their lay,

While he the votive steed60would slay,

And sent fit messengers to bring

The minstrel pair before the king.

They came,and found the monarch high

Enthroned in gold,his brothers nigh;

While many a minister below,

And noble,sate in lengthened row.

The youthful pair awhile he viewed

Graceful in modest attitude,

And then in words like these addressed

His brother Lakshmaṇand the rest:

“Come,listen to the wondrous strain

Recited by these godlike twain,

Sweet singers of a story fraught

With melody and lofty thought.”

The pair,with voices sweet and strong,

Rolled the full tide of noble song,

With tone and accent deftly blent

To suit the changing argument.

Mid that assembly loud and clear

Rang forth that lay so sweet to hear,

That universal rapture stole

Through each man's frame and heart and soul.

“These minstrels,blest with every sign

That marks a high and princely line,

In holy shades who dwell,

Enshrined in Saint Válmíki's lay,

A monument to live for aye,

My deeds in song shall tell.”

Thus Ráma spoke:their breasts were fired,

And the great tale,as if inspired,

The youths began to sing,

While every heart with transport swelled,

And mute and rapt attention held

The concourse and the king.