The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 14 books and stories free download online pdf in English

The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 14

14
Canto XIV. 
Ráma Summoned.
The wicked queen her speech renewed,

When rolling on the earth she viewed

Ikshváku's son, Ayodhyá's king,

For his dear Ráma sorrowing:

“Why, by a simple promise bound,

Liest thou prostrate on the ground,

As though a grievous sin dismayed

Thy spirit! Why so sore afraid?

Keep still thy word. The righteous deem

That truth, mid duties, is supreme:

And now in truth and honour's name

I bid thee own the binding claim.

Śaivya, a king whom earth obeyed,

Once to a hawk a promise made,

Gave to the bird his flesh and bone,

And by his truth made heaven his own.277

Alarka, when a Bráhman famed

For Scripture lore his promise claimed,

Tore from his head his bleeding eyes

And unreluctant gave the prize.

His narrow bounds prescribed restrain

The Rivers' Lord, the mighty main,

Who, though his waters boil and rave,

Keeps faithful to the word he gave.

Truth all religion comprehends,

Through all the world its might extends:

In truth alone is justice placed,

On truth the words of God are based:

A life in truth unchanging past

Will bring the highest bliss at last.

If thou the right would still pursue,

Be constant to thy word and true:

Let me thy promise fruitful see,

For boons, O King, proceed from thee.

Now to preserve thy righteous fame,

And yielding to my earnest claim—

Thrice I repeat it—send thy child,

Thy Ráma, to the forest wild.

But if the boon thou still deny,

Before thy face, forlorn, I die.”

Thus was the helpless monarch stung

By Queen Kaikeyí's fearless tongue,

As Bali strove in vain to loose

His limbs from Indra's fatal noose.

Dismayed in soul and pale with fear,

The monarch, like a trembling steer

Between the chariot's wheel and yoke,

Again to Queen Kaikeyí spoke,

With sad eyes fixt in vacant stare,

Gathering courage from despair:

“That hand I took, thou sinful dame,

With texts, before the sacred flame,

Thee and thy son, I scorn and hate,

And all at once repudiate.

The night is fled: the dawn is near:

Soon will the holy priests be here

To bid me for the rite prepare

That with my son the throne will share,

The preparation made to grace

My Ráma in his royal place—

With this, e'en this, my darling for

My death the funeral flood shall pour.

Thou and thy son at least forbear

In offerings to my shade to share,

For by the plot thy guile has laid

His consecration will be stayed.

This very day how shall I brook

To meet each subject's altered look?

To mark each gloomy joyless brow

That was so bright and glad but now?”

While thus the high-souled monarch spoke

To the stern queen, the Morning broke,

And holy night had slowly fled,

With moon and stars engarlanded.

Yet once again the cruel queen

Spoke words in answer fierce and keen,

Still on her evil purpose bent,

Wild with her rage and eloquent:

“What speech is this? Such words as these

Seem sprung from poison-sown disease.

Quick to thy noble Ráma send

And bid him on his sire attend.

When to my son the rule is given;

When Ráma to the woods is driven;

When not a rival copes with me,

From chains of duty thou art free.”

Thus goaded, like a generous steed

Urged by sharp spurs to double speed,

“My senses are astray,” he cried,

“And duty's bonds my hands have tied.

I long to see mine eldest son,

My virtuous, my beloved one.”

And now the night had past away;

Out shone the Maker of the Day,

Bringing the planetary hour

And moment of auspicious power.

Vaśishṭha, virtuous, far renowned,

Whose young disciples girt him round,

With sacred things without delay

Through the fair city took his way.

He traversed, where the people thronged,

And all for Ráma's coming longed,

The town as fair in festive show

As his who lays proud cities low.278

He reached the palace where he heard

The mingled notes of many a bird,

Where crowded thick high-honoured bands

Of guards with truncheons in their hands.

Begirt by many a sage, elate,

Vaśishṭha reached the royal gate,

And standing by the door he found

Sumantra, for his form renowned,

The king's illustrious charioteer

And noble counsellor and peer.

To him well skilled in every part

Of his hereditary art

Vaśishṭha said: “O charioteer,

Inform the king that I am here,

Here ready by my side behold

These sacred vessels made of gold,

Which water for the rite contain

From Gangá and each distant main.

Here for installing I have brought

The seat prescribed of fig-wood wrought,

All kinds of seed and precious scent

And many a gem and ornament;

Grain, sacred grass, the garden's spoil,

Honey and curds and milk and oil;

Eight radiant maids, the best of all

War elephants that feed in stall;

A four-horse car, a bow and sword.

A litter, men to bear their lord;

A white umbrella bright and fair

That with the moon may well compare;

Two chouries of the whitest hair;

A golden beaker rich and rare;

A bull high-humped and fair to view,

Girt with gold bands and white of hue;

A four-toothed steed with flowing mane,

A throne which lions carved sustain;

A tiger's skin, the sacred fire,

Fresh kindled, which the rites require;

The best musicians skilled to play,

And dancing-girls in raiment gay;

Kine, Bráhmans, teachers fill the court,

And bird and beast of purest sort.

From town and village, far and near,

The noblest men are gathered here;

Here merchants with their followers crowd,

And men in joyful converse loud,

And kings from many a distant land

To view the consecration stand.

The dawn is come, the lucky day;

Go bid the monarch haste away,

That now Prince Ráma may obtain

The empire, and begin his reign.”

Soon as he heard the high behest

The driver of the chariot pressed

Within the chambers of the king,

His lord with praises honouring.

And none of all the warders checked

His entrance for their great respect

Of him well known, in place so high,

Still fain their king to gratify.

He stood beside the royal chief,

Unwitting of his deadly grief,

And with sweet words began to sing

The praises of his lord and king:

“As, when the sun begins to rise,

The sparkling sea delights our eyes,

Wake, calm with gentle soul, and thus

Give rapture, mighty King, to us.

As Mátali this selfsame hour

Sang lauds of old to Indra's power,

When he the Titan hosts o'erthrew,

So hymn I thee with praises due.

The Vedas, with their kindred lore,

Brahmá their soul-born Lord adore,

With all the doctrines of the wise,

And bid him, as I bid thee, rise.

As, with the moon, the Lord of Day

Wakes with the splendour of his ray

Prolific Earth, who neath him lies,

So, mighty King, I bid thee rise.

With blissful words, O Lord of men,

Rise, radiant in thy form, as when

The sun ascending darts his light

From Meru's everlasting height.

May Śiva, Agni, Sun, and Moon

Bestow on thee each choicest boon,

Kuvera, Varuṇa, Indra bless

Kakutstha's son with all success.

Awake, the holy night is fled,

The happy light abroad is spread;

Awake, O best of kings, and share

The glorious task that claims thy care.

The holy sage Vaśishṭha waits,

With all his Bráhmans, at the gate.

Give thy decree, without delay,

To consecrate thy son today.

As armies, by no captain led,

As flocks that feed unshepherded,

Such is the fortune of a state

Without a king and desolate.”

Such were the words the bard addressed,

With weight of sage advice impressed;

And, as he heard, the hapless king

Felt deeper yet his sorrow's sting.

At length, all joy and comfort fled,

He raised his eyes with weeping red,

And, mournful for his Ráma's sake,

The good and glorious monarch spake:

“Why seek with idle praise to greet

The wretch for whom no praise is meet?

Thy words mine aching bosom tear,

And plunge me deeper in despair.”

Sumantra heard the sad reply,

And saw his master's tearful eye.

With reverent palm to palm applied

He drew a little space aside.

Then, as the king, with misery weak,

With vain endeavour strove to speak,

Kaikeyí, skilled in plot and plan,

To sage Sumantra thus began:

“The king, absorbed in joyful thought

For his dear son, no rest has sought:

Sleepless to him the night has past,

And now o'erwatched he sinks at last.

Then go, Sumantra, and with speed

The glorious Ráma hither lead:

Go, as I pray, nor longer wait;

No time is this to hesitate.”

“How can I go, O Lady fair,

Unless my lord his will declare?”

“Fain would I see him,” cried the king,

“Quick, quick, my beauteous Ráma bring.”

Then rose the happy thought to cheer

The bosom of the charioteer,

“The king, I ween, of pious mind,

The consecration has designed.”

Sumantra for his wisdom famed,

Delighted with the thought he framed,

From the calm chamber, like a bay

Of crowded ocean, took his way.

He turned his face to neither side,

But forth he hurried straight;

Only a little while he eyed

The guards who kept the gate.

He saw in front a gathered crowd

Of men of every class,

Who, parting as he came, allowed

The charioteer to pass.