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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 31

Canto XXXI. 
Lakshman's Prayer.
When Lakshmaṇ, who had joined them there,

Had heard the converse of the pair,

His mien was changed, his eyes o'erflowed,

His breast no more could bear its load.

The son of Raghu, sore distressed,

His brother's feet with fervour pressed,

While thus to Sítá he complained,

And him by lofty vows enchained:

“If thou wilt make the woods thy home,

Where elephant and roebuck roam,

I too this day will take my bow

And in the path before thee go.

Our way will lie through forest ground

Where countless birds and beasts are found,

I heed not homes of Gods on high,

I heed not life that cannot die,

Nor would I wish, with thee away,

O'er the three worlds to stretch my sway.”

Thus Lakshmaṇ spake, with earnest prayer

His brother's woodland life to share.

As Ráma still his prayer denied

With soothing words, again he cried:

“When leave at first thou didst accord,

Why dost thou stay me now, my lord?

Thou art my refuge: O, be kind,

Leave me not, dear my lord, behind.

Thou canst not, brother, if thou choose

That I still live, my wish refuse.”

The glorious chief his speech renewed

To faithful Lakshmaṇ as he sued,

And on the eyes of Ráma gazed

Longing to lead, with hands upraised:

“Thou art a hero just and dear,

Whose steps to virtue's path adhere,

Loved as my life till life shall end,

My faithful brother and my friend.

If to the woods thou take thy way

With Sítá and with me to-day,

Who for Kauśalyá will provide,

And guard the good Sumitrá's side?

The lord of earth, of mighty power,

Who sends good things in plenteous shower,

As Indra pours the grateful rain,

A captive lies in passion's chain.

The power imperial for her son

Has Aśvapati's daughter306 won,

And she, proud queen, will little heed

Her miserable rivals' need.

So Bharat, ruler of the land,

By Queen Kaikeyí's side will stand,

Nor of those two will ever think,

While grieving in despair they sink.

Now, Lakshmaṇ, as thy love decrees,

Or else the monarch's heart to please,

Follow this counsel and protect

My honoured mother from neglect.

So thou, while not to me alone

Thy great affection will be shown,

To highest duty wilt adhere

By serving those thou shouldst revere.

Now, son of Raghu, for my sake

Obey this one request I make,

Or, of her darling son bereft,

Kauśalyá has no comfort left.”

The faithful Lakshmaṇ, thus addressed

In gentle words which love expressed,

To him in lore of language learned,

His answer, eloquent, returned:

“Nay, through thy might each queen will share

Attentive Bharat's love and care,

Should Bharat, raised as king to sway

This noblest realm, his trust betray,

Nor for their safety well provide,

Seduced by ill-suggesting pride,

Doubt not my vengeful hand shall kill

The cruel wretch who counsels ill—

Kill him and all who lend him aid,

And the three worlds in league arrayed.

And good Kauśalyá well can fee

A thousand champions like to me.

A thousand hamlets rich in grain

The station of that queen maintain.

She may, and my dear mother too,

Live on the ample revenue.

Then let me follow thee: herein:

Is naught that may resemble sin.

So shall I in my wish succeed,

And aid, perhaps, my brother's need.

My bow and quiver well supplied

With arrows hanging at my side,

My hands shall spade and basket bear,

And for thy feet the way prepare.

I'll bring thee roots and berries sweet.

And woodland fare which hermits eat.

Thou shall with thy Videhan spouse

Recline upon the mountain's brows;

Be mine the toil, be mine to keep

Watch o'er thee waking or asleep.”

Filled by his speech with joy and pride,

Ráma to Lakshmaṇ thus replied:

“Go then, my brother, bid adieu

To all thy friends and retinue.

And those two bows of fearful might,

Celestial, which, at that famed rite,

Lord Varuṇ gave to Janak, king

Of fair Vedeha with thee bring,

With heavenly coats of sword-proof mail,

Quivers, whose arrows never fail,

And golden-hilted swords so keen,

The rivals of the sun in sheen.

Tended with care these arms are all

Preserved in my preceptor's hall.

With speed, O Lakshmaṇ, go, produce,

And bring them hither for our use.”

So on a woodland life intent,

To see his faithful friends he went,

And brought the heavenly arms which lay

By Ráma's teacher stored away.

And Raghu's son to Ráma showed

Those wondrous arms which gleamed and glowed,

Well kept, adorned with many a wreath

Of flowers on case, and hilt, and sheath.

The prudent Ráma at the sight

Addressed his brother with delight:

“Well art thou come, my brother dear,

For much I longed to see thee here.

For with thine aid, before I go,

I would my gold and wealth bestow

Upon the Bráhmans sage, who school

Their lives by stern devotion's rule.

And for all those who ever dwell

Within my house and serve me well,

Devoted servants, true and good,

Will I provide a livelihood.

Quick, go and summon to this place

The good Vaśishṭha's son,

Suyajǹa, of the Bráhman race

The first and holiest one.

To all the Bráhmans wise and good

Will I due reverence pay,

Then to the solitary wood

With thee will take my way.”