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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 58

Canto LVIII. 
Ráma's Message.
The king a while had senseless lain,

When care brought memory back again.

Then straight he called, the news to hear

Of Ráma, for the charioteer,

With reverent hand to hand applied

He waited by the old man's side,

Whose mind with anguish was distraught

Like a great elephant newly caught.

The king with bitter pain distressed

The faithful charioteer addressed,

Who, sad of mien, with flooded eye,

And dust upon his limbs, stood by:

“Where will be Ráma's dwelling now

At some tree's foot, beneath the bough;

Ah, what will be the exile's food,

Bred up with kind solicitude?

Can he, long lapped in pleasant rest,

Unmeet for pain, by pain oppressed,

Son of earth's king, his sad night spend

Earth-couched, as one that has no friend?

Behind him, when abroad he sped,

Cars, elephant, and foot were led:

Then how shall Ráma dwell afar

In the wild woods where no men are?

How, tell me, did the princes there,

With Sítá good and soft and fair,

Alighting from the chariot, tread

The forest wilds around them spread?

A happy lot is thine, I ween,

Whose eyes my two dear sons have seen

Seeking on foot the forest shade,

Like the bright Twins to view displayed,

The heavenly Aśvins, when they seek

The woods that hang 'neath Mandar's peak.

What words, Sumantra, quickly tell,

From Ráma, Lakshmaṇ, Sítá fell?

How in the wood did Ráma eat?

What was his bed, and what his seat?

Full answer to my questions give,

For I on thy replies shall live,

As with the saints Yayáti held

Sweet converse, from the skies expelled.”

Urged by the lord of men to speak,

Whose sobbing voice came faint and weak,

Thus he, while tears his utterance broke,

In answer to the monarch spoke:

“Hear then the words that Ráma said,

Resolved in duty's path to tread.

Joining his hands, his head he bent,

And gave this message, reverent:

“Sumantra, to my father go,

Whose lofty mind all people know:

Bow down before him, as is meet,

And in my stead salute his feet.

Then to the queen my mother bend,

And give the greeting that I send:

Ne'er may her steps from duty err,

And may it still be well with her.

And add this word: “O Queen, pursue

Thy vows with faithful heart and true;

And ever at due season turn

Where holy fires of worship burn.

And, lady, on our lord bestow

Such honour as to Gods we owe.

Be kind to every queen: let pride

And thought of self be cast aside.

In the king's fond opinion raise

Kaikeyí, by respect and praise.

Let the young Bharat ever be

Loved, honoured as the king by thee:

Thy king-ward duty ne'er forget:

High over all are monarchs set.”

And Bharat, too, for me address:

Pray that all health his life may bless.

Let every royal lady share,

As justice bids, his love and care.

Say to the strong-armed chief who brings

Joy to Iksváku's line of kings:

“As ruling prince thy care be shown

Of him, our sire, who holds the throne.

Stricken in years he feels their weight;

But leave him in his royal state.

As regent heir content thee still,

Submissive to thy father's will.’ ”

Ráma again his charge renewed,

As the hot flood his cheek bedewed:

“Hold as thine own my mother dear

Who drops for me the longing tear.”

Then Lakshmaṇ, with his soul on fire,

Spake breathing fast these words of ire:

“Say, for what sin, for what offence

Was royal Ráma banished thence?

He is the cause, the king: poor slave

To the light charge Kaikeyí gave.

Let right or wrong the motive be,

The author of our woe is he.

Whether the exile were decreed

Through foolish faith or guilty greed,

For promises or empire, still

The king has wrought a grievous ill.

Grant that the Lord of all saw fit

To prompt the deed and sanction it,

In Ráma's life no cause I see

For which the king should bid him flee.

His blinded eyes refused to scan

The guilt and folly of the plan,

And from the weakness of the king

Here and hereafter woe shall spring.

No more my sire: the ties that used

To bind me to the king are loosed.

My brother Ráma, Raghu's son,

To me is lord, friend, sire in one.

The love of men how can he win,

Deserting, by the cruel sin,

Their joy, whose heart is swift to feel

A pleasure in the people's weal?

Shall he whose mandate could expel

The virtuous Ráma, loved so well,

To whom his subjects' fond hearts cling—

Shall he in spite of them be king?”

But Janak's child, my lord, stood by,

And oft the votaress heaved a sigh.

She seemed with dull and wandering sense,

Beneath a spirit's influence.

The noble princess, pained with woe

Which till that hour she ne'er could know,

Tears in her heavy trouble shed,

But not a word to me she said.

She raised her face which grief had dried

And tenderly her husband eyed,

Gazed on him as he turned to go

While tear chased tear in rapid flow.”