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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 38

Care For Kausalyá
Then when the people wroth and sad

Saw Sítá in bark vesture clad,

Though wedded, like some widowed thing,

They cried out, “Shame upon thee, King!”

Grieved by their cry and angry look

The lord of earth at once forsook

All hope in life that still remained,

In duty, self, and fame unstained.

Ikshváku's son with burning sighs

On Queen Kaikeyí bent his eyes,

And said: “But Sítá must not flee

In garments of a devotee.

My holy guide has spoken truth:

Unfit is she in tender youth,

So gently nurtured, soft and fair,

The hardships of the wood to share.

How has she sinned, devout and true,

The noblest monarch's child,

That she should garb of bark indue

And journey to the wild?

That she should spend her youthful days

Amid a hermit band,

Like some poor mendicant who strays

Sore troubled, through the land?

Ah, let the child of Janak throw

Her dress of bark aside,

And let the royal lady go

With royal wealth supplied.

Not such the pledge I gave before,

Unfit to linger here:

The oath, which I the sinner swore

Is kept, and leaves her clear.

Won from her childlike love this too

My instant death would be,

As blossoms on the old bamboo

Destroy the parent tree.313

If aught amiss by Ráma done

Offend thee, O thou wicked one,

What least transgression canst thou find

In her, thou worst of womankind?

What shade of fault in her appears,

Whose full soft eye is like the deer's?

What canst thou blame in Janak's child,

So gentle, modest, true, and mild?

Is not one crime complete, that sent

My Ráma forth to banishment?

And wilt thou other sins commit,

Thou wicked one, to double it?

This is the pledge and oath I swore,

What thou besoughtest, and no more,

Of Ráma—for I heard thee, dame—

When he for consecration came.

Now with this limit not content,

In hell should be thy punishment,

Who fain the Maithil bride wouldst press

To clothe her limbs with hermit dress.”

Thus spake the father in his woe;

And Ráma, still prepared to go,

To him who sat with drooping head

Spake in return these words and said:

“Just King, here stands my mother dear,

Kauśalyá, one whom all revere.

Submissive, gentle, old is she,

And keeps her lips from blame of thee,

For her, kind lord, of me bereft

A sea of whelming woe is left.

O, show her in her new distress

Still fonder love and tenderness.

Well honoured by thine honoured hand

Her grief for me let her withstand,

Who wrapt in constant thought of me

In me would live a devotee.

Peer of Mahendra, O, to her be kind,

And treat I pray, my gentle mother so,

That, when I dwell afar, her life resigned,

She may not pass to Yáma's realm for woe.”