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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 24

Canto XXIV. 
Kausalyá Calmed.
But when Kauśalyásaw that he

Resolved to keep his sire's decree,

While tears and sobs her utterance broke,

Her very righteous speech she spoke:

“Can he, a stranger yet to pain,

Whose pleasant words all hearts enchain,

Son of the king and me the queen,

Live on the grain his hands may glean;

Can he, whose slaves and menials eat

The finest cakes of sifted wheat—

Can Ráma in the forest live

On roots and fruit which woodlands give;

Who will believe, who will not fear

When the sad story smites his ear,

That one so dear, so noble held,

Is by the king his sire expelled?

Now surely none may Fate resist,

Which orders all as it may list,

If, Ráma, in thy strength and grace,

The woods become thy dwelling-place.

A childless mother long I grieved,

And many a sigh for offspring heaved,

With wistful longing weak and worn

Till thou at last, my son, wast born.

Fanned by the storm of that desire

Deep in my soul I felt the fire,

Whose offerings flowed from weeping eyes,

With fuel fed of groans and sighs,

While round the flame the smoke grew hot

Of tears because thou camest not.

Now reft of thee, too fiery fierce

The flame of woe my heart will pierce,

As, when the days of spring return,

The sun's hot beams the forest burn.

The mother cow still follows near

The wanderings of her youngling dear.

So close to thine my feet shall be,

Where'er thou goest following thee.”

Ráma, the noblest lord of men,

Heard his fond mother's speech, and then

In soothing words like these replied

To the sad queen who wept and sighed:

“Nay, by Kaikeyí's art beguiled,

When I am banished to the wild,

If thou, my mother, also fly,

The aged king will surely die.

When wedded dames their lords forsake,

Long for the crime their souls shall ache.

Thou must not e'en in thought within

Thy bosom frame so dire a sin.

Long as Kakutstha's son, who reigns

Lord of the earth, in life remains,

Thou must with love his will obey:

This duty claims, supreme for aye.

Yes, mother, thou and I must be

Submissive to my sire's decree,

King, husband, sire is he confessed,

The lord of all, the worthiest.

I in the wilds my days will spend

Till twice seven years have reached an end,

Then with great joy will come again,

And faithful to thy hests remain.”

Kauśalyá by her son addressed,

With love and passion sore distressed,

Afflicted, with her eyes bedewed,

To Ráma thus her speech renewed:

“Nay, Ráma, but my heart will break

If with these queens my home I make.

Lead me too with thee; let me go

And wander like a woodland roe.”

Then, while no tear the hero shed,

Thus to the weeping queen he said:

“Mother, while lives the husband, he

Is woman's lord and deity.

O dearest lady, thou and I

Our lord and king must ne'er deny;

The lord of earth himself have we

Our guardian wise and friend to be.

And Bharat, true to duty's call,

Whose sweet words take the hearts of all,

Will serve thee well, and ne'er forget

The virtuous path before him set.

Be this, I pray, thine earnest care,

That the old king my father ne'er,

When I have parted hence, may know,

Grieved for his son, a pang of woe.

Let not this grief his soul distress,

To kill him with the bitterness.

With duteous care, in every thing,

Love, comfort, cheer the aged king.

Though, best of womankind, a spouse

Keeps firmly all her fasts and vows,

Nor yet her husband's will obeys,

She treads in sin's forbidden ways.

She to her husband's will who bends,

Goes to high bliss that never ends,

Yea, though the Gods have found in her

No reverential worshipper.

Bent on his weal, a woman still

Must seek to do her husband's will:

For Scripture, custom, law uphold

This duty Heaven revealed of old.

Honour true Bráhmans for my sake,

And constant offerings duly make,

With fire-oblations and with flowers,

To all the host of heavenly powers.

Look to the coming time, and yearn

For the glad hour of my return.

And still thy duteous course pursue,

Abstemious, humble, kind, and true.

The highest bliss shalt thou obtain

When I from exile come again,

If, best of those who keep the right,

The king my sire still see the light.”

The queen, by Ráma thus addressed,

Still with a mother's grief oppressed,

While her long eyes with tears were dim,

Began once more and answered him:

“Not by my pleading may be stayed

The firm resolve thy soul has made.

My hero, thou wilt go; and none

The stern commands of Fate may shun.

Go forth, dear child whom naught can bend,

And may all bliss thy steps attend.

Thou wilt return, and that dear day

Will chase mine every grief away.

Thou wilt return, thy duty done,

Thy vows discharged, high glory won;

From filial debt wilt thou be free,

And sweetest joy will come on me.

My son, the will of mighty Fate

At every time must dominate,

If now it drives thee hence to stray

Heedless of me who bid thee stay.

Go, strong of arm, go forth, my boy,

Go forth, again to come with joy,

And thine expectant mother cheer

With those sweet tones she loves to hear.

O that the blessed hour were nigh

When thou shalt glad this anxious eye,

With matted hair and hermit dress

returning from the wilderness.”

Kauśalyá's conscious soul approved,

As her proud glance she bent

On Ráma constant and unmoved,

Resolved on banishment.

Such words, with happy omens fraught

To her dear son she said,

Invoking with each eager thought

A blessing on his head.