Recital Of The Ramayana – Valmiki

When the silent night was ended, and their pure ablutions done, 

Joyous went the minstrel brothers, and their lofty lay begun, 
Rama to the hermit minstrels lent a monarch’s willing car, 

Blended with the simple music dulcet was the lay to hear, 
And so sweet the chanted accents, Rama’s inmost soul was stirred, 

With his royal guests and courtiers still the deathless lay he heard! 
Heralds versed in old Puranas, Brahmans skilled in pious rite, 

Minstrels deep in lore of music, poets fired by heavenly might, 
Watchers of the constellations, min’sters of the festive day, 

Men of science and of logic, bards who sang the ancient lay, 
Painters skilled and merry dancers who the festive joy prolong 

Hushed and silent in their wonder listed to the wondrous song! 
And as poured the flood of music through the bright and livelong day, 

Eyes and ears and hearts insatiate drank the nectar of the lay, 
And the eager people whispered: ‘See the boys, how like our king 

As two drops of limpid water from the parent bubble spring! 
Were the boys no hermit-children, in the hermit’s garments clad, 

We would deem them Rama’s image,-Rama as a youthful lad!’ 
Twenty cantos of the Epic thus the youthful minstrels sung, 

And the voice of stringéd music through the Epic rolled along, 
Out spake Rama in his wonder: ‘Scarce I know who these may be, 

Eighteen thousand golden pieces be the children-minstrels’ fee!’ 
‘Not so,’ answered thus the children, ‘we in darksome forests dwell, 

Gold and silver, bounteous monarch, forest life beseem not well!’ 
‘Noble children!’ uttered Rama, ‘dear to me the words you say, 

Tell me who composed this Epic,-Father of this deathless Lay?’ 
‘Saint Valmiki,’ spake the minstrels, ‘framed the great immortal song 

Four and twenty thousand verses to this noble Lay belong, 
Untold tales of deathless virtue sanctify his sacred line, 

And five hundred glorious cantos in this glorious Epic shine, 
In six Books of mighty splendour was the poet’s task begun, 

With a seventh Book, supplemental is the poet’s labour done, 
All thy matchless deeds, O monarch, in this Lay will brighter shine, 

List to us from first to ending if thy royal heart incline!’ 
‘Be it so,’ thus Rama answered, but the hours of day were o’er, 

And Valmiki’s youthful pupils to their cottage came once more. 
Rama with his guests and courtiers slowly left the royal hall, 

Eager was his heart to listen, eager were the monarchs all, 
And the voice of song and music thus was lifted day to day, 

And from day to day they listened to Valmiki’s deathless Lay!

The King’s Lament -Valmiki 

Is this torturing dream or madness, do my feeble senses fail, O’er my darkened mind and bosom doth a fainting fit prevail? 
So the stricken monarch pondered and in hushed and silent fear, 

Looked on her as on a tigress looks the dazed and stricken deer, 
Lying on the unswept pavement still he heaved the choking sigh, 

Like a wild and hissing serpent quelled by incantations high! 
Sobs convulsive shook his bosom and his speech and accent failed, 

And a dark and deathlike faintness o’er his feeble soul prevailed, 
Stunned awhile remained the monarch, then in furious passion woke. 

And his eyeballs flamed with redfire, to the queen as thus he spoke: 
‘Traitress to thy king and husband, fell destroyer of thy race, 

Wherefore seeks thy ruthless rancour Rama rich in righteous grace, 
Traitress to thy kith and kindred, Rama loves thee as thy own, 

Wherefore then with causeless vengeance as a mother hate thy son! 
Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, throned thee in my heart of truth, 

Nursed thee in my home and bosom like a snake of poisoned tooth, 
Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, placed thee on Ayodhya’s throne, 

That my Rama, loved of people, thou shouldst banish from his own? 
Banish far my Queen Kausalya, Queen Sumitra saintly wife, 

Wrench from me my ancient empire, from my bosom wrench my life, 
But with brave and princely Rama never can his father part, 

Till his ancient life is ended, cold and still his beating heart! 
Sunless roll the world in darkness, rainless may the harvests thrive, 

But from ri~hteous Rama severed, never can his sire survive, 
Feeble is thy aged husband, few and brief on earth his day, 

Lend me, wife, a woman’s kindness, as a consort be my stay! 
Ask for other boon, Kaikeyi, aught my sea-girt empire yields, 

Wealth or treasure, gem or jewel, castled town or smiling fields, 
Ask for other gift, Kaikeyi, and thy wishes shall be given, 

Stain me not with crime unholy in the eye of righteous Heaven!’ 
Coldly spake the Queen Kaikeyi: ‘If thy royal heart repent, 

Break thy word and plighted promise, let thy royal faith be rent, 
Ever known for truth and virtue, speak to peers and monarchs all, 

When from near and distant regions they shall gather in thy hall, 
Speak if so it please thee, monarch, of thy evil-destined wife, 

How she loved with wife’s devotion, how she served and saved thy life, 
How on plighted promise trusting for a humble boon she sighed, 

How a monarch broke his promise, how a cheated woman died!’ 
‘Fair thy form,’ resumed the monarch, ‘beauty dwells upon thy face, 

Woman’s winsome charms bedeck thee, and a woman’s peerless grace, 
Wherefore then within thy bosom wakes this thought of cruel wile, 

And what dark and loathsome spirit stains thy heart with blackest guile? 
Ever since the day, Kaikeyi, when a gentle bride you came, 

By a wife’s unfailing duty you have won a woman’s fame, 
Wherefore now this cruel purpose hath a stainless heart defiled, 

Ruthless wish to send my Rama to the dark and pathless wild? 
Wherefore, darkly-scheming woman, on unrighteous purpose bent, 

Doth thy cruel causeless vengeance on my Rama seek a vent, 
Wherefore seek by deeds unholy for thy son the throne to win, 

Throne which Bharat doth not covet,-blackened byhis mother’s sin? 
Shall I see my banished Rama mantled in the garb of woe, 

Reft of home and kin and empire to the pathless jungle go, 
Shall I see disasters sweeping o’er my empire dark and deep, 

As the forces of a foeman o’er a scattered army sweep? 
Shall I hear assembled monarchs in their whispered voices say, 

Weak and foolish in his dotapre, Dasa-ratha holds his sway, 
Shall I say to righteous elders when they blame my action done, 

That by woman’s mandate driven I have banished thus my son? 
Queen Kansalya, dear-loved woman! she who serves me as a slave, 

Soothes me like a tender sister, helps me like a consort brave, 
As a fond and loving mother tends me with a watchful care, 

As a daughter ever duteous doth obeisance sweet and fair, 
When my fond and fair Kausalya asks me of her banished son, 

How shall Dasa-ratha answer for the impious action done, 
How can husband, cold and cruel, break a wife’s confiding heart, 

How can father, false and faithless, from his best and eldest part?’ 
Coldly spake the Queen Kaikeyi: ‘If thy royal heart repent, 

Break thy word and plighted promise, let thy royal faith be rent, 
Truth-abiding is our monarch, so I heard the people say, 

And his word is all inviolate, stainless virtue marks his sway, 
Let it now be known to nations,-righteous Dasa-ratha lied, 

And a trusting, cheated woman broke her loving heart and died!’ 
Darker grew the shades of midnight, coldly shone each distant star, 

Wilder in the monarch’s bosom raged the struggle and the war: 
‘Starry midnight, robed in shadows! give my wearied heart relief, 

Spread thy sable covering mantle o’er an impious monarch’s grief, 
Spread thy vast and inky darkness o’er a deed of nameless crime, 

Reign perennial o’er my sorrows heedless of the lapse of time, 
May a sinful monarch perish ere the dawning of the day, 

O’er a dark life sin-polluted, beam not morning’s righteous ray!’

The Quest For Sita – Valmiki 

Past the rains, the marshalled Vanars gathered round Sugriva bold, 

And unto a gallant chieftain thus the king his purpose told: 
‘Brave in war and wise in counsel! take ten thousand of my best 

Seek the hiding-place of Ravan in the regions of the East. 
Seek each ravine rock and forest and each shadowy hill and cave, 

Far where bright Sarayu’s waters mix with Ganga’s ruddy wave, 
And where Jumna’s dark blue waters ceaseless roll in regal pride, 

And the Sone through leagues of country spreads its torrents far and wide. 
Seek where in Videha’s empire castled towns and hamlets shine, 

In Kosala and in Malwa and by Kasi’s sacred shrine, 
Magadh rich in peopled centres, Pundra region of the brave, 

Anga rich in corn and cattle on the eastern ocean wave. 
Seek where clans of skilful weavers dwell upon the eastern shore, 

And from virgin mines of silver miners work the sparkling ore. 
In the realms of uncouth nations, in the islets of the sea, 

In the mountains of the ocean, wander far and wander free!’ 
Next to Nila son of AGNI, Jambaman VIDHATA’S son, 

Hanuman the son of MARUT, famed for deeds of valour done, 
Unto Gaya and Gavaksha, Gandha-madan true and tried, 

Unto Angad prince and regent, thus the brave Sugriva cried: 
‘Noblest, bravest of our chieftains, greatest of our race are ye, 

Seek and search the Southern regions, rock and ravine, wood and tree, 
Search the thousand peaks of Vindhya lifting high its misty head, 

Through the gorges of Narmada rolling o’er its rocky bed, 
By the gloomy Godavari and by Krishna’s wooded stream, 

Through Utkala’s sea-girt forests tinged by morning’s early gleam. 
Search the towns of famed Dasarna and Avanti’s rocky shore, 

And the uplands of Vidarbha and the mountains of Mysore, 
Land of Matsyas and Kalingas and Kausika’s regions fair, 

Trackless wilderness of Dandak seek with anxious toil and care. 
Search the empire of the Andhras, of the sister-nations three,- 

Cholas, Cheras and the Pandyas dwelling by the southern sea, 
Pass Kaveri’s spreading waters, Malya’s mountains towering brave, 

Seek the isle of Tamra-parni, gemmed upon the ocean wave!’ 
To Susena chief and elder,-Tara’s noble sire was he,- 

Spake Sugriva with obeisance and in accents bold and free: 
‘Take my lord, a countless army of the bravest and the best, 

Search where beats the sleepless ocean on the regions of the West. 
Search the country of Saurashtras, of Bahlikas strong and brave, 

And each busy mart and seaport on the western ocean wave, 
Castles girt by barren mountains, deserts by the sandy sea, 

Forests of the fragrant ketak, regions of the tamal tree! 
Search the ocean port of Pattan shaded by its fruitful trees, 

Where the feathery groves of cocoa court the balmy western breeze, 
Where on peaks of Soma-giri lordly lions wander free, 

Where the waters of the Indus mingle with the mighty sea!’ 
Lastly to the valiant chieftain Satavala strong and brave, 

For the quest of saintly Sita, thus his mighty mandate gave: 
‘Hie thee, gallant Satavala, with thy forces wander forth, 

To the peaks of Himalaya, to the regions of the North! 
Mlechchas and the wild Pulindas in the rocky regions dwell, 

Madra chiefs and mighty Kurus live within each fertile vale, 
Wild Kambojas of the mountains, Yavanas of wondrous skill, 

Sakas swooping from their gorges, Pattanas of iron will!
Search the woods of devadaru mantling Himalaya’s side, 

And the forests of the lodhra spreading in their darksome pride, 
Search the land of Soma-srama where the gay Gandharvas dwell 

In the tableland of Kala search each rock and ravine well! 
Cross the snowy Himalaya, and Sudarsan’s holy peak, 

Deva-sakha’s wooded ranges which the feathered songsters seek, 
Cross the vast and dreary region void of stream or wooded bill, 

Till, you reach the white Kailasa, home of Gods, serene and still! 
Pass Kuvera’s pleasant regions, search the Krauncha mountain well, 

And the land where warlike females and the horse-faced women dwell, 
Halt not till you reach the country where the Northern Kurus rest, 

Utmost confines of the wide earth, home of Gods and Spirits blest!’