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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 16

Canto XVI. 
Ráma Summoned.
So through the crowded inner door

Sumantra, skilled in ancient lore,

On to the private chambers pressed

Which stood apart from all the rest.

There youthful warriors, true and bold,

Whose ears were ringed with polished gold,

All armed with trusty bows and darts,

Watched with devoted eyes and hearts.

And hoary men, a faithful train,

Whose aged hands held staves of cane,

The ladies' guard, apparelled fair

In red attire, were stationed there.

Soon as they saw Sumantra nigh,

Each longed his lord to gratify,

And from his seat beside the door

Up sprang each ancient servitor.

Then to the warders quickly cried

The skilled Sumantra, void of pride:

“Tell Ráma that the charioteer

Sumantra waits for audience here.”

The ancient men with one accord

Seeking the pleasure of their lord,

Passing with speed the chamber door

To Ráma's ear the message bore.

Forthwith the prince with duteous heed

Called in the messenger with speed,

For 'twas his sire's command, he knew,

That sent him for the interview.

Like Lord Kuvera, well arrayed,

He pressed a couch of gold,

Wherefrom a covering of brocade

Hung down in many a fold.

Oil and the sandal's fragrant dust

Had tinged his body o'er

Dark as the stream the spearman's thrust

Drains from the wounded boar.

Him Sítá watched with tender care,

A chouri in her hand,

As Chitrá,281 ever fond in fair,

Beside the Moon will stand.

Him glorious with unborrowed light,

A liberal lord, of sunlike might,

Sumantra hailed in words like these,

Well skilled in gentle courtesies,

As, with joined hands in reverence raised,

Upon the beauteous prince he gazed:

“Happy Kauśalyá! Blest is she,

The Mother of a son like thee.

Now rise, O Ráma, speed away.

Go to thy sire without delay:

For he and Queen Kaikeyí seek

An interview with thee to speak.”

The lion-lord of men, the best

Of splendid heroes, thus addressed,

To Sítá spake with joyful cheer:

“The king and queen, my lady dear,

Touching the throning, for my sake

Some salutary counsel take.

The lady of the full black eye

Would fain her husband gratify,

And, all his purpose understood,

Counsels the monarch to my good.

A happy fate is mine, I ween,

When he, consulting with his queen,

Sumantra on this charge, intent

Upon my gain and good, has sent.

An envoy of so noble sort

Well suits the splendour of the court.

The consecration rite this day

Will join me in imperial sway.

To meet the lord of earth, for so

His order bids me, I will go.

Thou, lady, here in comfort stay,

And with thy maidens rest or play.”

Thus Ráma spake. For meet reply

The lady of the large black eye

Attended to the door her lord,

And blessings on his head implored:

“The majesty and royal state

Which holy Bráhmans venerate,

The consecration and the rite

Which sanctifies the ruler's might,

And all imperial powers should be

Thine by thy father's high decree,

As He, the worlds who formed and planned,

The kingship gave to Indra's hand.

Then shall mine eyes my king adore

When lustral rites and fast are o'er,

And black deer's skin and roebuck's horn

Thy lordly limbs and hand adorn.

May He whose hands the thunder wield

Be in the east thy guard and shield;

May Yáma's care the south befriend,

And Varuṇ's arm the west defend;

And let Kuvera, Lord of Gold,

The north with firm protection hold.”

Then Ráma spoke a kind farewell,

And hailed the blessings as they fell

From Sítá's gentle lips; and then,

As a young lion from his den

Descends the mountain's stony side,

So from the hall the hero hied.

First Lakshmaṇ at the door he viewed

Who stood in reverent attitude,

Then to the central court he pressed

Where watched the friends who loved him best.

To all his dear companions there

He gave kind looks and greeting fair.

On to the lofty car that glowed

Like fire the royal tiger strode.

Bright as himself its silver shone:

A tiger's skin was laid thereon.

With cloudlike thunder, as it rolled,

It flashed with gems and burnished gold,

And, like the sun's meridian blaze,

Blinded the eye that none could gaze.

Like youthful elephants, tall and strong,

Fleet coursers whirled the car along:

In such a car the Thousand-eyed

Borne by swift horses loves to ride.

So like Parjanya,282 when he flies

Thundering through the autumn skies,

The hero from the palace sped,

As leaves the moon some cloud o'erhead.

Still close to Ráma Lakshmaṇ kept,

Behind him to the car he leapt,

And, watching with fraternal care,

Waved the long chouri's silver hair,

As from the palace gate he came

Up rose the tumult of acclaim.

While loud huzza and jubilant shout

Pealed from the gathered myriads out.

Then elephants, like mountains vast,

And steeds who all their kind surpassed,

Followed their lord by hundreds, nay

By thousands, led in long array.

First marched a band of warriors trained,

With sandal dust and aloe stained;

Well armed was each with sword and bow,

And every breast with hope aglow,

And ever, as they onward went,

Shouts from the warrior train,

And every sweet-toned instrument

Prolonged the minstrel strain.

On passed the tamer of his foes,

While well clad dames, in crowded rows,

Each chamber lattice thronged to view,

And chaplets on the hero threw.

Then all, of peerless face and limb,

Sang Ráma's praise for love of him,

And blent their voices, soft and sweet,

From palace high and crowded street:

“Now, sure, Kauśalyá's heart must swell

To see the son she loves so well,

Thee Ráma, thee, her joy and pride,

Triumphant o'er the realm preside.”

Then—for they knew his bride most fair

Of all who part the soft dark hair,

His love, his life, possessed the whole

Of her young hero's heart and soul:—

“Be sure the lady's fate repays

Some mighty vow of ancient days,283

For blest with Ráma's love is she

As, with the Moon's, sweet Rohiní.”284

Such were the witching words that came

From lips of many a peerless dame

Crowding the palace roofs to greet

The hero as he gained the street.