By Light we live and to the Light we go. -Savitri

Sri Aurobindo Pieces from the Ramayana

Speech of Dussaruth to the assembled
States-General of his Empire

Then with a far reverberating sound
As of a cloud in heaven or war-drum’s call
Deep-voiced to battle and with echoings
In the wide roof of his majestic voice
That like the resonant surges onward rolled
Moving men’s hearts to joy, a King to Kings
He spoke and all they heard him.
“It is known
To you, O princes, how this noblest realm
Was by my fathers ruled, the kings of old
Who went before me, even as one dearest son
Is by his parents cherished; therefore I too
Would happier leave than when my youth assumed
Their burden, mankind, my subjects, and this vast
World-empire of the old Ixvaacou kings.
Lo I have trod in those imperial steps
My fathers left, guarding with sleepless toil
The people while strength was patient in this frame
O’erburdened with the large majestic world.
But now my body broken is and old,
Ageing beneath the shadow of the white
Canopy imperial and outworn with long

Labouring for the good of all mankind.
My people, Nature fails me! I have lived
Thousands of years and many lives of men
And all my worn heart wearies for repose.
Weary am I of bearing up this heavy
Burden austere of the great world, duties
Not sufferable by souls undisciplined:
O folk, to rest from greatness I desire.
Therefore with your august, assembled will,
O powers and O twice-born nations, I
Would share with Rama this great kingdom’s crown,
Rama, my warrior son, by kingly birth
And gifts inherited confessed my son,
Rama, a mighty nation’s joy. Less fair
Yoked with his favouring constellation bright
The regent moon shall be than Rama’s face
When morn upon his crowning smiles. O folk,
Say then shall Luxman’s brother be your lord,
Glory’s high favourite who empire breathes?
Yea, if the whole vast universe should own
My son for king, it would be kinged indeed
And regal: Lords, of such desirable
Fortune I would possess the mother of men;
Then would I be at peace, at last repose
Transferring to such shoulders Earth. Pronounce
If I have nobly planned, if counselled well;
Grant me your high permissive voices, People,
But if my narrower pleasure, private hope,
Of welfare general the smooth disguise
Have in your censure donned, then let the folk
Themselves advise their monarch or command.
For other is disinterested thought
And by the clash of minds dissimilar
Counsel increases.”
Then with a deep sound
As when a cloud with rain and thunder armed
Invades the skies, the jewelled peacocks loud

Clamour, assembled monarchs praised their king.
And like a moving echo came the voice
Of the great commons answering them, a thunder
And one exultant roar. Earth seemed to rock
Beneath the noise. Thus by their Emperor high
Admitted to his will great conclave was
Of clergy and of captains and of kings
And of the people of the provinces
And of the people metropolitan. All these
Deliberated and became one mind.
Resolved, they answered then their aged King.

An Aryan City

Coshala by the Soroyou, a land
Smiling at heaven, of riches measureless
And corn abounding glad; in that great country
Ayodhya was, the city world-renowned,
Ayodhya by King Manou built, immense.
Twelve yojans long the mighty city lay
Grandiose and wide three yojans. Grandly-spaced
Ayodhya’s streets were and the long high-road
Ran through it spaciously with sweet cool flowers
Hourly new-paved and hourly watered wide.
Dussaruth in Ayodhya, as in heaven
Its natural lord, abode, those massive walls
Ruling, and a great people in his name
Felt greater,—door and wall and ponderous arch
And market-places huge. Of every craft
Engines mechanical and tools there thronged
And craftsmen of each guild and manner. High rang
With heralds and sonorous eulogists
The beautiful bright city imperial.

High were her bannered edifices reared,
With theatres and dancing-halls for joy
Of her bright daughters, and sweet-scented parks
Were round and gardens cool. High circling all
The city with disastrous engines stored
In hundreds, the great ramparts like a zone
Of iron spanned in her moated girth immense
Threatening with forts the ancient sky. Defiant
Ayodhya stood, arm`ed, impregnable,
Inviolable in her virgin walls.
And in her streets was ever large turmoil,
Passing of elephants, the steed and ox,
Mules and rich-laden camels. And through them drove
The powerful barons of the land, great wardens
Of taxes, and from countries near and far
The splendid merchants came much marvelling
To see those orgulous high-builded homes
With jewels curiously fretted, topped
With summer-houses for the joy of girls,
Like some proud city in heaven. Without a gap
On either side as far as eye could reach
Mass upon serried mass the houses rose,
Seven-storied architectures metrical
Upon a level base and made sublime
Splendid Ayodhya octagonally built,
The mother of beautiful women and of gems
A world. Large granaries of rice unhusked
She had and husked rice for the fire, and sweet
Her water, like the cane’s delightful juice,
Cool down the throat. And a great voice throbbed of drums,
The tabour and the tambourine, while ever
The lyre with softer rumours intervened.
Nor only was she grandiosely built,
A city without earthly peer,—her sons
Were noble, warriors whose arrows scorned to pierce
The isolated man from friends cut off
Or guided by a sound to smite the alarmed

And crouching fugitive; but with sharp steel
Sought out the lion in his den or grappling
Unarmed they murdered with their mighty hands
The tiger roaring in his trackless woods
Or the mad tusk`ed boar. Even such strong arms
Of heroes kept that city and in her midst
Regnant King Dussaruth the nations ruled.

A Mother’s Lament

“Hadst thou been never born, Rama, my son,
Born for my grief, I had not felt such pain,
A childless woman. For the barren one
Grief of the heart companions, only one,
Complaining, ‘I am barren’; this she mourns,
She has no cause for any deeper tears.
But I am inexperienced in delight
And never of my husband’s masculine love
Had pleasure,—still I lingered, still endured
Hoping to be acquainted yet with joy.
Therefore full many unlovely words that strove
To break the suffering heart had I to hear
From wives of my husband, I the Queen and highest,
From lesser women. Ah what greater pain
Than this can women have who mourn on earth,
Than this my grief and infinite lament?
O Rama, even at thy side so much
I have endured, and if thou goest hence,
Death is my certain prospect, death alone.
Cruelly neglected, grievously oppressed
I have lived slighted in my husband’s house
As though Kaicayie’s serving-woman,—nay,
A lesser thing than these. If any honours,

If any follows me, even that man
Hushes when he beholds Kaicayie’s son.
How shall I in my misery endure
That bitter mouth intolerable, bear
Her ceaseless petulance. O I have lived
Seventeen years since thou wast born, my son,
O Rama, seventeen long years have lived,
Wearily wishing for an end to grief;
And now this mighty anguish without end!
I have no strength to bear for ever pain;
Nor this worn heart with suffering fatigued
To satisfy the scorn of rivals yields
More tears. Ah how shall I without thy face
Miserably exist, without thy face,
My moon of beauty, miserable days?
Me wretched, who with fasts and weary toils
And dedicated musings reared thee up,
Vainly. Alas, the river’s giant banks,
How great they are! and yet when violent rain
Has levelled their tops with water, they descend
In ruin, not like this heart which will not break.
But I perceive death was not made for me,
For me no room in those stupendous realms
Has been discovered; since not even today
As on a mourning hind the lion falls
Death seizes me or to his thicket bears
With his huge leap,—death, ender of all pain.
How livest thou, O hard, O iron heart,
Unbroken? O body, tortured by such grief,
How sinkst thou not all shattered to the earth?
Therefore I know death comes not called—he waits
Inexorably his time. But this I mourn,
My useless vows, gifts, offerings, self-control,
And dire ascetic strenuousness perfected
In passion for a son,—yet all like seed
Fruitless and given to ungrateful soil.
But if death came before his season, if one

By anguish of unbearable heavy grief
Naturally might win him, then today
Would I have hurried to his distant worlds
Of thee deprived, O Rama, O my son.
Why should I vainly live without thine eyes,
Thou moonlight of my soul? No, let me toil
After thee to the savage woods where thou
Must harbour; I will trail these feeble limbs
Behind thy steps as the sick yearning dam
That follows still her ravished young.” Thus she
Yearning upon her own beloved son;—
As over her offspring chained a Centauress
Impatient of her anguish deep, so wailed
Cowshalya; for her heart with grief was loud.

The Wife

But Sita all the while, unhappy child,
Worshipped propitious gods. Her mind in dreams
August and splendid coronations dwelt
And knew not of that woe. Royal she worshipped,
A princess in her mind and mood, and sat
With expectation thrilled. To whom there came
Rama, downcast and sad, his forehead moist
From inner anguish. Dark with thought and shaken
He entered his august and jubilant halls.
She started from her seat, transfixed, and trembled,
For all the beauty of his face was marred,
Who when he saw his young beloved wife
Endured no longer; all his inner passion
Of tortured pride was opened in his face.
And Sita, shaken, cried aloud, “What grief
Comes in these eyes? Was not today thine hour

When Jupiter, the imperial planet, joins
With Pushya, that high constellation? Why
Art thou then pale, disturbed? Where is thy pomp,
Thy crowning where? No foam-white softness silk
With hundred-shafted canopy o’erhues
Thy kingly head, no fans o’erwave thy face
Like birds that beat their bright wings near a flower;
Minstrel nor orator attends thy steps
To hymn thy greatness, nor are heralds heard
Voicing high stanzas. Who has then forbade
The honeyed curds that Brahmins Veda-wise
Should pour on thy anointed brow,—the throngs
That should behind thee in a glory surge,—
The ministers and leading citizens
And peers and commons of the provinces
And commons metropolitan? Where stays
Thy chariot by four gold-clad horses drawn,
Trampling, magnificent, wide-maned? thy huge
High-omened elephant, a thunder-cloud
Or moving mountain in thy front? thy seat
Enriched with curious gold? Such are the high
Symbols men lead before anointed kings
Through streets flower-crowned. But thou com’st carless,
Alone. Or if thy coronation still,
Hero, prepares and nations for thee wait,
Wherefore comes this grey face not seen before
In which there is no joy?” Trembling she hushed.
Then answered her the hope of Raghou’s line,
“Sita, my sire exiles me to the woods.
O highborn soul, O firm religious mind,
Be strong and hear me. Dussaruth, my sire,
Whose royal word stands as the mountains pledged
To Bharuth’s mother boons of old, her choice
In her selected time, who now prefers
Athwart the coronation’s sacred pomp
Her just demand; me to the Dundac woods

For fourteen years exiled and in my stead
Bharuth, my brother, royally elect
To this wide empire. Therefore I come, to visit
And clasp thee once, ere to far woods I go.
But thou before King Bharuth speak my name
Seldom; thou knowest great and wealthy men
Are jealous and endure not others’ praise.
Speak low and humbly of me when thou speakest,
Observing all his moods; for only thus
Shall man survive against a monarch’s brow.
He is a king, therefore to be observed;
Holy, since by a monarch’s sacred hands
Anointed to inviolable rule.
Be patient; thou art wise and good. For I
Today begin exile, Sita, today
Leave thee, O Sita. But when I am gone
Into the paths of the ascetics old
Do thou in vows and fasts spend blamelessly
Thy lonely seasons. With the dawn arise
And when thou hast adored the Gods, bow down
Before King Dussaruth, my father, then
Like a dear daughter tend religiously
Cowshalya, my afflicted mother old;
Nor her alone, but all my father’s queens
Gratify with sweet love, smiles, blandishments
And filial claspings;—they my mothers are,
Nor than the breasts that suckled me less dear.
But mostly I would have thee show, beloved,
To Shatrughna and Bharuth, my dear brothers,
More than my life-blood dear, a sister’s love
And a maternal kindness. Cross not Bharuth
Even slightly in his will. He is thy king,
Monarch of thee and monarch of our house
And all this nation. ’Tis by modest awe
And soft obedience and high toilsome service
That princes are appeased, but being crossed
Most dangerous grow the wrathful hearts of kings

And mischief mean. Monarchs incensed reject
The sons of their own loins who durst oppose
Their mighty policies, and raise, of birth
Though vile, the strong and serviceable man.
Here then obedient dwell unto the King,
Sita; but I into the woods depart.”
He ended, but Videha’s daughter, she
Whose words were ever soft like one whose life
Is lapped in sweets, now other answer made
In that exceeding anger born of love,
Fierce reprimand and high. “What words are these,
Rama, from thee? What frail unworthy spirit
Converses with me uttering thoughts depraved,
Inglorious, full of ignominy, unmeet
For armed heroical great sons of Kings?
With alien laughter and amazed today
I hear the noblest lips in all the world
Uttering baseness. For father, mother, son,
Brother or son’s wife, all their separate deeds
Enjoying their own separate fates pursue.
But the wife is the husband’s and she has
Her husband’s fate, not any private joy.
Have they said to thee ‘Thou art exiled’? Me
That doom includes, me too exiles. For neither
Father nor the sweet son of her own womb
Nor self, nor mother, nor companion dear
Is woman’s sanctuary; only her husband
Whether in this world or beyond is hers.
If to the difficult dim forest then,
Rama, this day thou journeyest, I will walk
Before thee, treading down the thorns and sharp
Grasses, smoothing with my torn feet thy way;
And henceforth from my bosom as from a cup
Stale water, jealousy and wrath renounce.
Trust me, take me; for, Rama, in this breast
Sin cannot harbour. Heaven-spacious terraces
Of mansions, the aerial gait of Gods

With leave to walk among those distant stars,
Man’s wing`ed aspiration or his earth
Of sensuous joys, tempt not a woman’s heart:
She chooses at her husband’s feet her home.
My father’s lap, my mother’s knees to me
Were school of morals, Rama; each human law
Of love and service there I learned, nor need
Thy lessons. All things else are wind; I choose
The inaccessible inhuman woods,
The deer’s green walk or where the tigers roam,
Life savage with the multitude of beasts,
Dense thickets; there will I dwell in desert ways,
Happier than in my father’s lordly house,
A pure-limbed hermitess. How I will tend thee
And watch thy needs, and thinking of no joy
But that warm wifely service and delight
Forget the unneeded world, alone with thee.
We two shall dalliance take in honied groves
And scented springtides. These heroic hands
Can in the forest dangerous protect
Even common men, and will they then not guard
A woman and the noble name of wife?
I go with thee this day, deny who will,
Nor aught shall turn me. Fear not thou lest I
Should burden thee, since gladly I elect
Life upon fruits and roots and still before thee
Shall walk, not faltering with fatigue, eat only
Thy remnants after hunger satisfied,
Nor greater bliss conceive. O I desire
That life, desire to see the large wide lakes,
The cliffs of the great mountains, the dim tarns,
Not frighted since thou art beside me, and visit
Fair waters swan-beset in lovely bloom.
In thy heroic guard my life shall be
A happy wandering among beautiful things.
For I shall bathe in those delightful pools,
And to thy bosom fast-devoted, wooed

By thy great beautiful eyes, yield and experience
On mountains and by rivers large delight.
Thus if a hundred years should pass or many
Millenniums, yet I should not tire nor change.
For wandering so not heaven itself would seem
Desirable, but this were rather heaven.
O Rama, Paradise and thou not there
No Paradise were to my mind; I should
Grow miserable and reject the bliss.
I rather mid the gloomy entangled boughs
And sylvan haunts of elephant and ape,
Clasping my husband’s feet, intend to lie
Obedient, glad, and feel about me home.”
But Rama, though his heart approved her words,
Yielded not to entreaty, for he feared
Her dolour in the desolate wood; therefore
Once more he spoke and kissed her brimming eyes.
“Of a high blood thou comest and thy soul
Turns naturally to duties high. Now too,
O Sita, let thy duty be thy guide;
Elect thy husband’s will. Thou shouldst obey,
Sita, my words, who art a woman weak.
The woods are full of hardship, full of peril,
And ’tis thy ease that I command. Nay, nay,
But listen and this forestward resolve
Thou wilt abandon: Love! for I shall speak
Of fears and great discomforts. There is no pleasure
In the vast woodlands drear, but sorrows, toils,
Wretched privations. Thundering from the hills
The waterfalls leap down, and dreadfully
The mountain lions from their caverns roar
Hurting the ear with sound. This is one pain.
Then in vast solitudes the wild beasts sport
Untroubled, but when they behold men, rage
And savage onset move. Unfordable
Great rivers thick with ooze, the python’s haunt,
Or turbid with wild elephants, sharp thorns

Beset with pain and tangled creepers close
The thirsty tedious paths impracticable
That echo with the peacock’s startling call.
At night thou must with thine own hands break off
The soon-dried leaves, thy only bed, and lay
Thy worn-out limbs fatigued on the hard ground,
And day or night no kindlier food must ask
Than wild fruit shaken from the trees, and fast
Near to the limits of thy fragile life,
And wear the bark of trees for raiment, bind
Thy tresses piled in a neglected knot,
And daily worship with large ceremony
New-coming guests and the high ancient dead
And the great deities, and three times twixt dawn
And evening bathe with sacred accuracy,
And patiently in all things rule observe.
All these are other hardships of the woods.
Nor at thy ease shalt worship, but must offer
The flowers by thine own labour culled, and deck
The altar with observance difficult,
And be content with little and casual food.
Abstinent is their life who roam in woods,
O Mithilan, strenuous, a travail. Hunger
And violent winds and darkness and huge fears
Are their companions. Reptiles of all shapes
Coil numerous where thou walkest, spirited,
Insurgent, and the river-dwelling snakes
That with the river’s winding motion go,
Beset thy path, waiting. Fierce scorpions, worms,
Gadflies and gnats continually distress
And the sharp grasses pierce and thorny trees
With an entangled anarchy of boughs
Oppose. O many bodily pains and swift
Terrors the habitants in forests know.
They must expel desire and wrath expel,
Austere of mind, who such discomforts choose,
Nor any fear must feel of fearful things.

Dream not of it, O Sita; nothing good
The mind recalls in that disastrous life
For thee unmeet; only stern miseries
And toils ruthless and many dangers drear.”
Then Sita with the tears upon her face
Made answer very sad and low, “Many
Sorrows and perils of that forest life
Thou hast pronounced, discovered dreadful ills.
O Rama, they are joys if borne for thee,
For thy dear love, O Rama. Tiger or elk,
The savage lion and fierce forest-bull,
Marsh-jaguars and the creatures of the woods
And desolate peaks, will from thy path remove
At unaccustomed beauty terrified.
Fearless shall I go with thee if my elders
Allow, nor they refuse, themselves who feel
That parting from thee, Rama, is a death.
There is no danger! Hero, at thy side
Who shall touch me? Not sovran Indra durst,
Though in his might he master all the Gods,
Assail me with his thunder-bearing hands.
O how can woman from her husband’s arms
Divorced exist? Thine own words have revealed,
Rama, its sad impossibility.
Therefore my face is set towards going, for I
Preferring that sweet service of my lord,
Following my husband’s feet, surely shall grow
All purified by my exceeding love.
O thou great heart and pure, what joy is there
But thy nearness? To me my husband is
Heaven and God. O even when I am dead,
A bliss to me will be my lord’s embrace.
Yea thou who knowst, wilt thou, forgetful grown
Of common joys and sorrows sweetly shared,
The faithful heart reject, reject the love?
Thou carest nothing then for Sita’s tears?
Go! poison or the water or the fire

Shall yield me sanctuary, importuning death.”
Thus while she varied passionate appeal
And her sweet miserable eyes with tears
Swam over, he her wrath and terror and grief
Strove always to appease. But she alarmed,
Great Janac’s daughter, princess Mithilan,
Her woman’s pride of love all wounded, shook
From her the solace of his touch and weeping
Assailed indignantly her mighty lord.
“Surely my father erred, great Mithila
Who rules and the Videhas, that he chose
Thee with his line to mate, Rama unworthy,
No man but woman in a male disguise.
What casts thee down, wherefore art thou then sad,
That thou art bent thus basely to forsake
Thy single-hearted wife? Not Savitry
So loved the hero Dyumathsena’s son
As I love thee and from my soul adore.
I would not like another woman, shame
Of her great house, turn even in thought from thee
To watch a second face; for where thou goest
My heart follows. ’Tis thou, O shame! ’tis thou
Who thy young wife and pure, thy boyhood’s bride
And bosom’s sweet companion, like an actor,
Resignst to others. If thy heart so pant
To be his slave for whom thou art oppressed,
Obey him thou, court, flatter, for I will not.
Alas, my husband, leave me not behind,
Forbid me not from exile. Whether harsh
Asceticism in the forest drear
Or Paradise my lot, either is bliss
From thee not parted, Rama. How can I,
Guiding in thy dear steps my feet, grow tired
Though journeying endlessly? as well might one
Weary, who on a bed of pleasure lies.
The bramble-bushes in our common path,
The bladed grasses and the pointed reeds

Shall be as pleasant to me as the touch
Of cotton or of velvet, being with thee.
And when the stormblast rises scattering
The thick dust over me, I, feeling then
My dear one’s hand, shall think that I am smeared
With sandal-powder highly-priced. Or when
From grove to grove upon the grass I lie,
In couches how is there more soft delight
Or rugs of brilliant wool? The fruits of trees,
Roots of the earth or leaves, whate’er thou bring,
Be it much or little, being by thy hands
Gathered, I shall account ambrosial food.
I shall not once remember, being with thee,
Father or mother dear or my far home.
Nor shall thy pains by my companionship
Be greatened—doom me not to parting, Rama.
For only where thou art is Heaven; ’tis Hell
Where thou art not. O thou who knowst my love,
If thou canst leave me, poison still is left
To be my comforter. I will not bear
Their yoke who hate thee. And if today I shunned
Swift solace, grief at length would do its work
With torments slow. How shall the broken heart
That once has beaten on thine, absence endure
Ten years and three to these and yet one more?”
So writhing in the fire of grief, she wound
Her body about her husband, fiercely silent,
Or sometimes wailed aloud; as a wild beast
That maddens with the firetipped arrows, such
Her grief ungovernable and like the stream
Of fire from its stony prison freed,
Her quick hot tears, or as when the whole river
From new-culled lilies weeps,—those crystal brooks
Of sorrow poured from her afflicted lids.
And all the moonbright glories of her face
Grew dimmed and her large eyes vacant of joy.
But he revived her with sweet words, “Weep not;

If I could buy all heaven with one tear
Of thine, Sita, I would not pay the price,
My Sita, my beloved. Nor have I grown,
I who have stood like God by nature planted
High above any cause of fear, suddenly
Familiar with alarm. Only I knew not
Thy sweet and resolute courage, and for thee
Dreaded the misery that sad exiles feel.
But since to share my exile and o’erthrow
God first created thee, O Mithilan,
Sooner shall high serenity divorce
From the self-conquering heart, than thou from me
Be parted. Fixed I stand in my resolve
Who follow ancient virtue and the paths
Of the old perfect dead; ever my face
Turns steadfast to that radiant goal, self-vowed
Its sunflower. To the drear wilderness I go.
My father’s stainless honour points me on,
His oath that must not fail. This is the old
Religion brought from dateless ages down,
Parents to honour and obey; their will
Should I transgress, I would not wish to live.
For how shall man with homage or with prayer
Approach the distant Deity, yet scorn
A present godhead, father, mother, sage?
In these man’s triple objects live, in these
The triple world is bounded, nor than these
Has all wide earth one holier thing. Large eyes,
These therefore let us worship. Truth or gifts,
Or honour or liberal proud sacrifice,
Nought equals the effectual force and pure
Of worship filial done. This all bliss brings,
Compels all gifts, compels harvests and wealth,
Knowledge compels and children. All these joys,
These human boons great filial souls on earth
Recovering here enjoy and in that world
Heaven naturally is theirs. But me whatever,

In the strict path of virtue while he stands,
My father bids, my heart bids that. I go,
But not alone, o’ercome by thy sweet soul’s
High courage. O intoxicating eyes,
O faultless limbs, go with me, justify
The wife’s proud name, partner in virtue. Love,
Warm from thy great, highblooded lineage old
Thy purpose springing mates with the pure strain
Of Raghou’s ancient house. O let thy large
And lovely motion forestward make speed
High ceremonies to absolve. Heaven’s joys
Without thee now were beggarly and rude.
Haste then, the Brahmin and the pauper feed
And to their blessings answer jewels. All
Our priceless diamonds and our splendid robes,
Our curious things, our couches and our cars,
The glory and the eye’s delight, do them
Renounce, nor let our faithful servants lose
Their worthy portion.” Sita of that consent
So hardly won sprang joyous, as on fire,
Disburdened of her wealth, lightly to wing
Into dim wood and wilderness unknown.

An Aryan City

Coshala named, a mighty country there was, swollen and glad; seated on the banks of the Sarayu it abounded in wealth & grain; and there was the city Ayodhya famed throughout the triple world, built by Manu himself, lord of men. Twelve leagues was the beautiful mighty city in its length, three in its breadth; large & clearcut were its streets, and a vast clearcut highroad adorned it that ever was sprinkled with water and strewn freely with flowers. Dasaratha increasing a mighty nation peopled that city, like a king of the gods in his heavens; a town of arched gateways he made it, and wide were the spaces between its shops; full was it of all machines and implements and inhabited by all kinds of craftsmen and frequented by herald and bard, a city beautiful of unsurpassed splendours; lofty were its bannered mansions, crowded was it with hundreds of hundred-slaying engines of war, and in all quarters of the city there were theatres for women and there were gardens and mango-groves and the ramparts formed a girdle round its spacious might; hard was it for the foe to enter, hard to assail, for difficult and deep was the city’s moat; filled it was of horses & elephants, cows and camels and asses, crowded with its tributary kings arrived for sacrifice to the gods, rich with merchants from many lands and glorious with palaces built of precious stone high-piled like hills & on the house-tops pleasure-rooms; like Indra’s Amar´ avati Ayodhya seemed.

The Book of the Wild Forest

Then, possessing his soul, Rama entered the great forest, the forest Dandaka with difficulty approachable by men and beheld a circle there of hermitages of ascetic men; a refuge for all living things, with ever well-swept courts and strewn with many forms of beasts and swarming with companies of birds and holy, high & temperate sages graced those homes. The high of energy approached them unstringing first his mighty bow, and they beheld him like a rising moon & with wonder in their looks gazed at the fabric of his beauty and its glory and softness and garbed grace and at Vydehie too with unfalling eyelids they gazed and Lakshmana; for they were things of amazement to these dwellers in the woods. Great-natured sages occupied in doing good to all living things, they made him sit a guest in their leafy home, and burning with splendour of soul like living fires they offered him guest-worship due and presented all things of auspice, full of
high gladness in the act, roots, flowers and fruits they gave, yea, all the hermitage they laid at the feet of Rama high-souled and, learned in righteousness, said to him with outstretched upward palms, “For that he is the keeper of the virtue of all this folk, a refuge and a mighty fame, high worship and honour are the King’s, and he holds the staff of justice & is reverend to all. Of Indra’s self he is the fourth part and protects the people, O seed of Raghu, therefore he enjoys noble&beautiful pleasures and to him men bow down. Thou shouldst protect us, then, dwellers in
thy dominions, for whether the city hold thee or the wilderness, still art thou the King and the master of the folk. But we, O King, have laid by the staff of offence, we have put anger from us and the desires of the senses, and ’tis thou must protect us
always, ascetics rich in austerity but helpless as children in the
Now when he had taken of their hospitality, Rama towards the rising of the sun took farewell of all those seers and plunged into mere forest scattered through with many beasts of the chase and haunted by the tiger and the bear. There he & Lakshmana following him saw a desolation in the midmost of that wood, for blasted were tree & creepe r& bush and water was nowhere to be seen, but the forest was full of the screaming of vultures and rang with the crickets’ cry. And walking with Sita there Cacootstha in that haunt of fierce wild beasts beheld the appearance like a mountain peak and heard the thundering roar of an eater of men; deep setwere his eyes and huge his face, hideous was he and hideous bellied, horrid, rough and tall, deformed and dreadful to the gaze, and wore a tiger’s skin moist with fat and streaked with gore,—a terror to all creatures even as Death the ender when he comes with yawning mouth. Three lions, four tigers, two wolves, ten spotted deer and the huge fat-smeared head of an elephant with its tusks he had stuck upon an iron spit and roared with a mighty sound. As soon as he saw Rama & Lakshmana & Sita Mithilan he ran upon them in sore wrath like Death the ender leaping on the nations, and with a terrible roar that seemed to shake the earth he took Vydehie up in his arms and moved away and said, “You who wear the ascetic’s cloth and
matted locks, O ye whose lives are short, yet with a wife have you entered Dandak woods and you bear the arrow, sword and bow, how is this that you being anchorites hold your dwelling with a woman’s beauty? Workers of unrighteousness, who are ye, evil men, disgrace to the garb of the seer? I Viradha the Rakshasa range armed these tangled woods eating the flesh of the sages. This womanwith the noble hips shall be my spouse but as for you, I will drink in battle your sinful blood.” Evil souled Viradha speaking this wickedness Sita heard his haughty speech, alarmed she shook in her apprehension as a plaintain trembles in the stormwind. The son of Raghu seeing the beautiful Sita in Viradha’s arms said to Lakshmana, his face drying up with grief, “Behold, O my brother, the daughter of Janak lord of men, my wife of noble life taken into Viradha’s arms, the King’s daughter highsplendoured and nurtured in utter ease! The thing Kaikayie desired, the thing dear to her that she chose for a gift,
how quickly today, O Lakshmana, has it been utterly fulfilled, she whose foresight was not satisfied with the kingdom for her son, but she sent me, the beloved of all beings, to the wild woods. Now today she has her desire, that middle mother of mine. For no worse grief can befall me than that another should touch Vydehie and that my father should perish and my own kingdom be wrested from my hands.” So Cacootstha spake, and Lakshmana answered him & his eyes filled with the mist of grief and he panted like a furious snake controlled, “O thou who art like Indra and the protector of this world’s creatures, why dost thou afflict thyself as if thou wert one who had himself no protector, even though I am here, the servant of thy will?
Today shall the Rakshasa be slain by my angry shaft and earth drink the blood of Viradha dead. The wrath that was born in me against Bharat for his lust of rule, I will loose upon Viradha as the Thunderer hurls his bolt against a hill.” Then Viradha spoke yet again and filled the forest with his voice, “Answer to my questioning, who are ye and whither do ye go?” And Rama answered to the Rakshasa with his mouth of fire, in his pride of strength he answered his questioning and declared his birth in Ikshwaku’s line. “Kshatriyas accomplished in virtue know us to be, farers in this forest, but of thee we would know who thou art that rangest Dandak woods.” And to Rama of unerring might Viradha made reply, “Java’s son am I, Shatahrada was my dam and Viradha am I called by all Rakshasas on earth.

The Defeat of Dhoomraksha

But in their lust of battle shouted loud,
Rejoicing, all the Apes when they beheld
The dreadful Rakshas coming forth to war,
Dhoomraksha. High the din of mellay rose,
Giant and Ape with tree and spear and mace
Smiting each other; for the Giants hewed
Their dire opponents down on every side,
And they too with the trunks of trees bore down
Their monstrous foes and levelled with the dust.
But in their wrath increasing Lanca’s hosts
Pierced the invaders; straight their arrows flew
Unswerving, fatal, heron-winged; sharp-knobbed
Their maces smote and dreadful clubs prevailed;
The curious tridents did their work. But torn,
But mangled by the shafts, but pierced with spears
The Apes in act heroic, unalarmed,
Drew boldness from impatience of defeat;
Trees from the earth they plucked, lifted great rocks
And with a dreadful speed, roaring aloud,
Hurling their shouted names behind the blow,
They slew with these the heroes of the isle.
Down fell the Giants crushed and from their mouths
Vomited lifeblood, pounded were by rocks
And with crushed sides collapsed or by ape-teeth
Were mangled, or lay in heaps by trees o’erborne.
Some with sad faces tore their locks in grief,
Bewildered with the smell of blood and death
Some lifeless sank upon the earth. Enraged
Dhoomraksha saw the rout and forward stormed
And made a mighty havoc of the foe,
Crushing to earth their bleeding forms with axe

And javelin and mace oppressed or torn.
Some helpless died, some gave their blood to earth,
Some scattering fled the fierce pursuer’s wrath,
Some with torn hearts slept on one side relaxed
On earth’s soft bosom, some with entrails plucked
Out of their bodies by the tridents died
Wretchedly. Sweet twanged the bowstrings, lyres of war,
The sobbing of the warriors’ breath was time
And with a thunder dull, battle delivered
Its dread orchestral music. In the front
Of all that war Dhoomraksha thundered armed,
Laughing aloud, and with fast-sleeting shafts
Scattered to every wind his foes. At last
The Son of Tempest saw his army’s rout
Astonished by Dhoomraksha; wroth he saw
And came, carrying a giant crag he came,
Red-gazing, and with all his father’s force
At dire Dhoomraksha’s chariot hurled. Alarmed
Dhoomraksha saw the flying boulder come
And rearing up his club from the high car
He leaped. Down crashed the rock and ground the car
To pieces, wheel and flag and pole and yoke
And the forsaken bow. Hanuman too
Abandoning his chariot through the ranks
Opposing strode with havoc; trees unlopped
With all their boughs for mace and club he used.
With shattered heads and bodies oozing blood
The Giants fell before him. Scattering so
The Giant army Hanuman, the Wind’s
Tremendous son, took easily in his hands
A mountain’s mighty top and ran and strode
Where stood Dhoomraksha. Roaring answer loud
The mighty Giant with his club upreared
Came furiously to meet the advancing foe.
Wrathful the heroes met, and on the head
Of Hanuman the weapon many-spiked
Of dire Dhoomraksha fell; but he the Ape,

Strong in inheritance of might divine,
Not even heeded such a blow, but brought
Right on Dhoomraksha’s crown the summit huge
And all his limbs were shattered with the stroke
And like a broken mountain they collapsed
Earthward, o’erwhelmed, in-smitten, prone. The Giants left,
Survivors of that slaughter, fled alarmed
And entered Lanca by the Apes pursued
And butchered as they fled. But from that fight
Victorious, weary, rested Hanuman
Amid his slaughtered foemen and engirt
With the red rivers he had made to flow,
Praised by the host, rejoicing in his wounds.


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