The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 20 books and stories free download online pdf in English

The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 20

20
Canto XX. 
Kausalyá's Lament.
But in the monarch's palace, when

Sped from the bower that lord of men,

Up from the weeping women went

A mighty wail and wild lament:

“Ah, he who ever freely did

His duty ere his sire could bid,

Our refuge and our sure defence,

This day will go an exile hence,

He on Kauśalyá loves to wait

Most tender and affectionate,

And as he treats his mother, thus

From childhood has he treated us.

On themes that sting he will not speak,

And when reviled is calm and meek.

He soothes the angry, heals offence:

He goes to-day an exile hence.

Our lord the king is most unwise,

And looks on life with doting eyes,

Who in his folly casts away

The world's protection, hope, and stay.”

Thus in their woe, like kine bereaved

Of their young calves,287 the ladies grieved,

And ever as they wept and wailed

With keen reproach the king assailed.

Their lamentation, mixed with tears,

Smote with new grief the monarch's ears,

Who, burnt with woe too great to bear,

Fell on his couch and fainted there.

Then Ráma, smitten with the pain

His heaving heart could scarce restrain,

Groaned like an elephant and strode

With Lakshmaṇ to the queen's abode.

A warder there, whose hoary eld

In honour high by all was held,

Guarding the mansion, sat before

The portal, girt with many more.

Swift to their feet the warders sprang,

And loud the acclamation rang,

Hail, Ráma! as to him they bent,

Of victor chiefs preëminent.

One court he passed, and in the next

Saw, masters of each Veda text,

A crowd of Bráhmans, good and sage,

Dear to the king for lore and age.

To these he bowed his reverent head,

Thence to the court beyond he sped.

Old dames and tender girls, their care

To keep the doors, were stationed there.

And all, when Ráma came in view,

Delighted to the chamber flew,

To bear to Queen Kauśalyá's ear

The tidings that she loved to hear.

The queen, on rites and prayer intent,

In careful watch the night had spent,

And at the dawn, her son to aid,

To Vishṇu holy offerings made.

Firm in her vows, serenely glad,

In robes of spotless linen clad,

As texts prescribe, with grace implored,

Her offerings in the fire she poured.

Within her splendid bower he came,

And saw her feed the sacred flame.

There oil, and grain, and vases stood,

With wreaths, and curds, and cates, and wood,

And milk, and sesamum, and rice,

The elements of sacrifice.

She, worn and pale with many a fast

And midnight hours in vigil past,

In robes of purest white arrayed,

To Lakshmí Queen drink-offerings paid.

So long away, she flew to meet

The darling of her soul:

So runs a mare with eager feet

To welcome back her foal.

He with his firm support upheld

The queen, as near she drew,

And, by maternal love impelled,

Her arms around him threw.

Her hero son, her matchless boy

She kissed upon the head:

She blessed him in her pride and joy

With tender words, and said:

“Be like thy royal sires of old,

The nobly good, the lofty-souled!

Their lengthened days and fame be thine,

And virtue, as beseems thy line!

The pious king, thy father, see

True to his promise made to thee:

That truth thy sire this day will show,

And regent's power on thee bestow.”

She spoke. He took the proffered seat,

And as she pressed her son to eat,

Raised reverent bands, and, touched with shame,

Made answer to the royal dame:

“Dear lady, thou hast yet to know

That danger threats, and heavy woe:

A grief that will with sore distress

On Sítá, thee, and Lakshmaṇ press.

What need of seats have such as I?

This day to Daṇḍak wood I fly.

The hour is come, a time, unmeet

For silken couch and gilded seat.

I must to lonely wilds repair,

Abstain from flesh, and living there

On roots, fruit, honey, hermit's food,

Pass twice seven years in solitude.

To Bharat's hand the king will yield

The regent power I thought to wield,

And me, a hermit, will he send

My days in Daṇḍak wood to spend.”

As when the woodman's axe has lopped

A Śal branch in the grove, she dropped:

So from the skies a Goddess falls

Ejected from her radiant halls.

When Ráma saw her lying low,

Prostrate by too severe a blow,

Around her form his arms he wound

And raised her fainting from the ground.

His hand upheld her like a mare

Who feels her load too sore to bear,

And sinks upon the way o'ertoiled,

And all her limbs with dust are soiled.

He soothed her in her wild distress

With loving touch and soft caress.

She, meet for highest fortune, eyed

The hero watching by her side,

And thus, while Lakshmaṇ bent to hear,

Addressed her son with many a tear!

“If, Ráma, thou had ne'er been born

My child to make thy mother mourn,

Though reft of joy, a childless queen,

Such woe as this I ne'er had seen.

Though to the childless wife there clings

One sorrow armed with keenest stings,

“No child have I: no child have I,”

No second misery prompts the sigh.

When long I sought, alas, in vain,

My husband's love and bliss to gain,

In Ráma all my hopes I set

And dreamed I might be happy yet.

I, of the consorts first and best,

Must bear my rivals' taunt and jest,

And brook, though better far than they,

The soul distressing words they say.

What woman can be doomed to pine

In misery more sore than mine,

Whose hopeless days must still be spent

In grief that ends not and lament?

They scorned me when my son was nigh;

When he is banished I must die.

Me, whom my husband never prized,

Kaikeyí's retinue despised

With boundless insolence, though she

Tops not in rank nor equals me.

And they who do me service yet,

Nor old allegiance quite forget,

Whene'er they see Kaikeyí's son,

With silent lips my glances shun.

How, O my darling, shall I brook

Each menace of Kaikeyí's look,

And listen, in my low estate,

To taunts of one so passionate?

For seventeen years since thou wast born

I sat and watched, ah me, forlorn!

Hoping some blessed day to see

Deliverance from my woes by thee.

Now comes this endless grief and wrong,

So dire I cannot bear it long,

Sinking, with age and sorrow worn,

Beneath my rivals' taunts and scorn.

How shall I pass in dark distress

My long lone days of wretchedness

Without my Ráma's face, as bright

As the full moon to cheer my sight?

Alas, my cares thy steps to train,

And fasts, and vows, and prayers are vain.

Hard, hard, I ween, must be this heart

To hear this blow nor burst apart,

As some great river bank, when first

The floods of Rain-time on it burst.

No, Fate that speeds not will not slay,

Nor Yama's halls vouchsafe me room,

Or, like a lion's weeping prey,

Death now had borne me to my doom.

Hard is my heart and wrought of steel

That breaks not with the crushing blow,

Or in the pangs this day I feel

My lifeless frame had sunk below.

Death waits his hour, nor takes me now:

But this sad thought augments my pain,

That prayer and largess, fast and vow,

And Heavenward service are in vain.

Ah me, ah me! with fruitless toil

Of rites austere a child I sought:

Thus seed cast forth on barren soil

Still lifeless lies and comes to naught.

If ever wretch by anguish grieved

Before his hour to death had fled,

I mourning, like a cow bereaved,

Had been this day among the dead.”