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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 77

Canto LXXVII. 
The Gathering Of The Ashes.
The tenth day passed: the prince again

Was free from every legal stain.

He bade them on the twelfth the great

Remaining honour celebrate.

Much gold he gave, and gems, and food,

To all the Bráhman multitude,

And goats whose hair was white and fine,

And many a thousand head of kine:

Slaves, men and damsels, he bestowed,

And many a car and fair abode:

Such gifts he gave the Bráhman race

His father's obsequies to grace.

Then when the morning's earliest ray

Appeared upon the thirteenth day,

Again the hero wept and sighed

Distraught and sorrow-stupefied;

Drew, sobbing in his anguish, near,

The last remaining debt to clear,

And at the bottom of the pyre,

He thus bespake his royal sire:

“O father, hast thou left me so,

Deserted in my friendless woe,

When he to whom the charge was given

To keep me, to the wood is driven?

Her only son is forced away

Who was his helpless mother's stay:

Ah, whither, father, art thou fled;

Leaving the queen uncomforted?”

He looked upon the pile where lay

The bones half-burnt and ashes grey,

And uttering a piteous moan,

Gave way, by anguish overthrown.

Then as his tears began to well,

Prostrate to earth the hero fell;

So from its seat the staff they drag,

And cast to earth some glorious flag.

The ministers approached again

The prince whom rites had freed from stain;

So when Yayáti fell, each seer,

In pity for his fate, drew near.

Śatrughna saw him lying low

O'erwhelmed beneath the crush of woe,

And as upon the king he thought,

He fell upon the earth distraught.

When to his loving memory came

Those noble gifts, that kingly frame,

He sorrowed, by his woe distressed,

As one by frenzied rage possessed:

“Ah me, this surging sea of woe

Has drowned us with its overflow:

The source is Manthará, dire and dark,

Kaikeyí is the ravening shark:

And the great boons the monarch gave

Lend conquering might to every wave.

Ah, whither wilt thou go, and leave

Thy Bharat in his woe to grieve,

Whom ever 'twas thy greatest joy

To fondle as a tender boy?

Didst thou not give with thoughtful care

Our food, our drink, our robes to wear?

Whose love will now for us provide,

When thou, our king and sire, hast died?

At such a time bereft, forlorn,

Why is not earth in sunder torn,

Missing her monarch's firm control,

His love of right, his lofty soul?

Ah me, for Ráma roams afar,

My sire is where the Blessed are;

How can I live deserted? I

Will pass into the fire and die.

Abandoned thus, I will not brook

Upon Ayodhyá's town to look,

Once guarded by Ikshváku's race:

The wood shall be my dwelling place.”

Then when the princes' mournful train

Heard the sad brothers thus complain,

And saw their misery, at the view

Their grief burst wilder out anew.

Faint with lamenting, sad and worn,

Each like a bull with broken horn,

The brothers in their wild despair

Lay rolling, mad with misery, there.

Then old Vaśishṭha good and true,

Their father's priest, all lore who knew,

Raised weeping Bharat on his feet,

And thus bespake with counsel meet:

“Twelve days, my lord, have past away

Since flames consumed thy father's clay:

Delay no more: as rules ordain,

Gather what bones may yet remain.

Three constant pairs are ever found

To hem all mortal creatures round:

Then mourn not thus, O Prince, for none

Their close companionship may shun.”

Sumantra bade Śatrughna rise,

And soothed his soul with counsel wise,

And skilled in truth, his hearer taught

How all things are and come to naught.

When rose each hero from the ground,

A lion lord of men, renowned,

He showed like Indra's flag, whereon

Fierce rains have dashed and suns have shone.

They wiped their red and weeping eyes,

And gently made their sad replies:

Then, urged to haste, the royal pair

Performed the rites that claimed their care.