poem – krishna learns to walk

Kanha walks
Two steps at a time,
Yasoda’s desires see
Fulfilment sublime.
‘Runuk jhunk’ sing His anklets,
A sound
So pleasing to the mind.
He sits,
But then is up immediately,
A sight difficult to describe.
All the ladies of Braj tire
Of seeing such beauty divine.

poem – krishna begining to speak

Mohan’s begun to say ‘Maiya Maiya,’
And ‘Baba Baba’ to Nanda,
Balaram He’s calling ‘baiya’
From atop the house Yasoda shouts
Taking the name of kanhaiya.
Don’t go far to play my darling
Someone’s cow will hit ye.
The gopas and gopis celebrate boisterously
In each house there is festivity
Surdas, for a glimpse of the Lord
My all is surrendered to the Almighty.

poem – krishna’s speech

Mirth and song and nuptial music waked the echoes of the night,
Youthful bosoms throbbed with pleasure, lovelit glances sparkled bright,

But when young and white -robed USHAS ope’d the golden gates of day,
To Virata’s council chamber chieftains thoughtful held their way,

Stones inlaid in arch and pillar glinted in the glittering dawn,
Gay festoons and graceful garlands o’er the golden cushions shone!

Matsya’s king, Panchala’s monarch, foremost seats of honour claim,
Krishna too and Valadeva, Dwarka’s chiefs of righteous fame,

By them sate the bold Satyaki from the sea-girt western shore,
And the godlike sons of Pandu,-days of dark concealment o’er,

Youthful princes in their splendour graced Virata’s royal hall,
Valiant sons of valiant fathers, brave in war, august and tall,

In their gem-bespangled garments came the warriors proud and high,
Till the council chamber glittered like the star-bespangled sky

Kind the greetings, sweet the converse, soft the golden moments fly,
Till intent on graver questions all on Krishna turn their eye,

Krishna with his inner vision then the state of things surveyed,
And his thoughts before the monarchs thus in weighty accents laid.

‘Known to all, ye mighty monarchs! May your glory ever last,
‘True to plighted word Yudhishthir hath his weary exile passed,

Twelve long years with fair Draupadi in the pathless jungle strayed,
And a year in menial service in Virata’s palace stayed,

He hath kepthis plighted promise, braved affliction, woe, and shame,
And he begs, assembled monarchs, ye shall now his duty name.

For he swerveth not from duty kingdom of the sky to win,
Prizeth hamlet more than empire, so his course be free from sin,

Loss of realm and wealth and glory higher virtues in him prove,
Thoughts of peace and not of anger still the good Yudhishthir move!

Mark again the sleepless anger and the unrelenting hate
Harboured by the proud Duryodhan driven by his luckless fate,

From a child, by fire or poison, impious guile or trick of dice,
He hath compassed dark destruction by deceit and low device!

Ponder well, ye gracious monarchs, with a just and righteous mind,
Help Yudhishthir with your counsel, with your grace and blessings kind,

Should the noble son of Pandu seek his right by open war,
Seek the aid of righteous monarchs and of chieftains near and far?

Should he smite his ancient foemen skilled in each deceitful art,
Unforgiving in their vengeance, unrelenting in their heart?

Should he rather send a message to the proud unbending foe,
And Duryodhan’s haughty purpose seek by messenger to know?

Should he send a noble envoy, trained in virtue, true and wise,
With his greetings to Duryodhan in a meek and friendly guise?

Ask him to restore the kingdom on the sacred Jumna’s shore
Either king may rule his empire as in happy days of yore? ‘

Krishna uttered words of wisdom pregnant with his peaceful thought,
For in peace and not by bloodshed still Yudhishthir’s right he sought.

poem – the princes

Gauntleted and jewel-girdled, now the warlike princes came,
With their stately bows and quivers, and their swords like wreaths of flame,

Each behind his elder stepping, good Yudhishthir first of all,
Each his wondrous skill displaying held the silent crowds in thrall.

And the men in admiration marked them with a joyful eye,
Or by sudden panic stricken stooped to let the arrow fly!

Mounted on their rapid coursers oft the princes proved their aim,
Racing, hit the target with arrows lettered with their royal name,

With their glinting sunlit weapons shone the youths sublime and high,
More than mortals seemed the princes, bright Gandharvas of the sky!

Shouts of joy the people uttered as by sudden impulse driven.
Mingled voice of tens of thousands struck the pealing vault of heaven.

Still the princes shook their weapons, drove the deep resounding car,
Or on steed or tusker mounted waged the glorious mimic war!

Mighty sword and ample buckler, ponderous mace the princes wield,
Brightly gleam their lightning rapiers as they range the listed field,

Brave and fearless is their action, and their movement quick and light
Skilled and true the thrust and parry of their weapons flaming bright!

poem – the suitors

‘Brave Duryodhan and his brothers, princes of the Kuruland,
Karna proud and peerless archer, sister! seek thy noble hand,

And Gandhara’s warlike princes, Bhoja’s monarch true and bold,
And the son of mighty Drona, all bedecked in gems and gold!

King and prince from Matsya kingdom grace this noble wedding feast,
Monarchs from more distant regions north and south and west and east,

Tamralipta and Kalinga on the eastern ocean wave,
Pattan’s port whose hardy children western ocean’s dangers brave!

From the distant land of Madra car-borne monarch Salya came,
Amd from Dwarka’s sea-girt regions Valadeva known to fame,

Valadeva and his brother Krishna sprung from Yadu’s race,
Of the Vrishni clan descended, soul of truth and righteous grace!

This is mighty Jayadratha come from Sindhu’s sounding shore,
Famed for warlike feats of valour, famed alike for sacred lore,

This is fair Kosala’s monarch whose bright deeds our heralds sing,
From the sturdy soil of Chedi, this is Chedi’s peerless king!

This is mighty Jarasandha, come from far Magadha’s land,
These are other princely suitors, sister! eager for thy hand,

All the wide earth’s warlike rulers seek to shoot the distant aim,
Princess, whoso hits the target, choose as thine that prince of fame!’

Decked with jewels, young and valiant, all aflame with soft desire,
Conscious of their worth and valour, all the suitors rose in ire,

Nobly born, of lofty presence, full of young unyielding pride,
Like the tuskers wild and lordly on Himalay’s wooded side!

Each his rival marks as foeman as in field of deadly strife,
Each regards the fair Draupadi as his own his queenly wife,

On the gorgeous field they gather by a maddening passion fired,
And they strive as strove the bright gods, when by Uma’s love inspired!

And the gods in cloud-borne chariots came to view the scene so fair,
Bright ADITYAS in their splendour, MARUTs in the moving air,

Winged Suparnas, scaly Yagas, saints celestial pure and high,
For their music famed, Gandharvas, fair Apsaras of the sky

Valadeva armed with ploughshare, Krishna chief of righteous fame.
With the other Yadu chieftains to that wondrous bridal came,

Krishna marked the sons of Panda eager for the maiden queen,
Like wild tuskers for a lotus, like the fire that lurks unseen,

And he knew the warlike brothers in their holy Brahman guise,
Pointed them to Valadeva, gazing with a glad surprise!

But the other chiefs and monarchs with their eyes upon the bride,
Marked nor knew the sons of Panda sitting speechless by their side,

And the long-armed sons of Panda smitten by KANDARPA’S dart,
Looked on her with longing languor and with love -impassioned heart!

Bright Immortals gaily crowding viewed the scene surpassing fair,
Heavenly blossoms soft descending with a perfume filled the air,

Bright celestial cars in concourse sailed upon the cloudless sky,
Drum and flute and harp and tabor sounded deep and sounded high!

Poem – the arghya

Outspake Bhishma to Yudhishthir: ‘Monarch of this wide domain,
Honour due to crowned monarchs doth our sacred law ordain,

Arghya to the wise Preceptor, to the Kinsman and to Priest,
To the Friend and to the Scholar, to the King as lord of feast,

Unto these is due the arghya, so our holy writs have said,
Therefore to these kings assembled be the highest honour paid,

Noble are these crownéd monarchs, radiant like the noonday sun,
To the noblest, first in virtue, be the foremost honour done!’

‘Who is noblest,’ quoth Yudhishthir, ‘in this galaxy of fame,
Who of chiefs and crownéd monarchs doth our foremost honour claim?’

Pond’ ring spake the ancient Bhishma in his accents deep and clear:
Greatest midst the great is Krishna! chief of men without a peer

Midst these monarchs pure in lustre, purest-hearted and most high
Like the radiant sun is Krishna midst the planets of the sky,

Sunless climes are warmed to verdure by the sun’s returning ray,
Windless wastes are waked to gladness when reviving breezes play,

Even so this rajasuya, this thy sacrificial rite,
Owes its sanctity and splendour unto Krishna’s holy might!’

Bhishma spake and Sahadeva served his mandate quick as thought,
And the arghya duly flavoured unto peerless Krishna brought,

Krishna trained in rules of virtue then the offered arghya took,
Darkened Sisupala’s forehead and his frame in tremor shook,

To Yudhishthir and to Bhishma turns the chief his flaming eyes,
To the great and honoured Krishna, Sisupala wrathful cries.

poem – ravan’s coming

Ravan watched the happy moment burning with a vengeful spite,
Came to sad and sorrowing Sita in the guise of anchorite,

Tufted hair and russet garment, sandals on his feet he wore.
And depending from his shoulders on a staff his vessel bore.

And he came to lonely Sita, for each warlike chief was gone,
As the darkness comes to evening lightless from the parted Sun,

And he cast his eyes on Sita, as a graha casts its shade
On the beauteous star Rohini when the bright Moon’s glories fade.

Quaking Nature knew the moment; silent stood the forest trees,
Conscious of a deed of darkness fell the fragrant forest breeze,

Godavari’s troubled waters trembled’ neath his lurid glance,
And his red eve’s fiery lustre sparkled in the wavelets’ dance!

Mute and still were forest creatures when in guise of anchorite,
Unto Sita’s lonely cottage pressed the Raksha in his might,

Mute and voiceless was the jungle as he cast on her his eye,
As across the star of Chitra, planet Sani walks the sky!

Ravan stood in hermit’s vestments,-vengeful purpose unrevealed,-
As a deep and darksome cavern is by grass and leaf concealed,

Ravan stood sedate and silent, and he gazed on Rama’s queen,
Ivory brow and lip of coral, sparkling teeth of pearly sheen!

Lighting up the lonely cottage, Sita sat in radiance high,
As the Moon with streaks of silver fills the lonely midnight sky,

Lighting up the gloomy woodlands with her eyes serenely fair,
With her bark-clad shape of beauty mantled by her raven hair!

Ravan fired by impure passion fixed on her his lustful eye,
And the light that lit his glances gave his holy texts the lie,

Ravan in his flattering accents, with a soft and soothing art,
Praised the woman’s peerless beauty to subdue the woman’s heart:

‘Beaming in thy golden beauty, robed in sylvan russet drew,
Wearing wreath of fragrant lotus like a nymph of wilderness,

Art thou Sri or radiant Gauri, maid of Fortune or of Fame,
Nymph of Love or sweet Fruition, what may be thy sacred name!

On thy lips of ruddy coral teeth of tender jasmine shine,
In thy eyes of limpid lustre dwclls a light of love divine,

Tall and slender, softly rounded, are thy limbs of beauty rare,
Like the swelling fruit of tala leaves thy bosom sweetly fair!

Smiling lips that tempt and ravish, lustre that thy dark eyes beam,
Crush my heart, as rolling waters crush the margin of the stream.

And thy wealth of waving tresses mantles o’er thy budding charms,
And thy waist of slender beauty courts a lover’s circling arms!

Goddess or Gandharva maiden wears no brighter form or face,
Woman seen by eyes of mortals owns not such transcendent grace.

Wherefore then, in lonesome forest, nymph or maiden, make thy stay,
Where the jungle creatures wander and the Rakshas hold their sway?

Royal balls and stately mansions were for thee a meeter home,
And thy steps should grace a palace, not in pathless forest roam,

Blossoms rich, not thorn of jungle, decorate a lady’s bower,
Silken robes, not sylvan garments, heighten Beauty’s potent power!

Lady of the sylvan forest! other destiny is thine,
As a bride beloved and courted in thy bridal garments shine,

Choose a loved and lordly suitor who shall wait on thee in pride,
Choose a hero worth thy beauty, be a monarch’s queenly bride!

Speak thy lineage, heaven-descended! who may be thy parents high,
Rudras or the radiant Maruts, Vassus leaders of the sky,

All unworthy is this forest for a nymph or heavenly maid,
Beast’s of prey infest the jungle, Rakshas haunt its gloomy shade,

Lions dwell in lovely caverns, tuskers ford the silent lake,
Monkeys sport on pendant branches, tigers steal beneath the brake,

Wherefore then this dismal forest doth thy fairy face adorn,
Who art thou and whence descended, nymph or maid or goddess-born?

poem – the fall of bali

Star-eyed Tara softly counselled pressing to her consort’s side,
Mighty Bali proudly answered with a warrior’s lofty pride:

‘Challenge of a humbled foeman and a younger’s haugty scorn
May not, shall not, tender Tara, by a king be meekly borne!

Bali turns not from encounter even with his dying breath,
Insult from a foe, unanswered, is a deeper stain than death,

And Sugriva’s quest for combat Bali never shall deny,
Though sustained by Rama’s forces and by Rama’s prowess high!

Free me from thy sweet embraces and amidst thy maids retire,
Woman’s love and soft devotion woman’s timid thoughts inspire,

Fear not, Tara, blood of brother Bali’s honour shall not stain,
I will quell his proud presumption, chase him from this realm again,

Free me from thy loving dalliance, midst thy damsels seek thy place,
Till I come a happy victor to my Tara’s fond embrace!’

Slow and sad with sweet obeisance Tara stopped around her lord,
Welling tear-drops choked her accents as she prayed in stifled word,

Slow and sad with swelling bosom Tara with her maids retired,
Bali issued proud and stately with the thought of vengeance fired!

Hissing like an angry cobra, city’s lofty gates he past,
And his proud and angry glances fiercely all around he cast,

Till he saw the bold Sugriva, gold-complexioned, red with ire,
Girded for the dubious combat, flaming like the forest fire!

Bali braced his warlike garments and his hand he lifted high,
Bold Sugriva raised his right arm with a proud and answering cry,

Bali’s eyes were red as copper and his chain was burnished gold,
To his brother bold Sugriva thus he spake in accents bold:

‘Mark this iron fist, intruder, fatal is its vengeful blow,
Crushed and smitten thou shalt perish and to nether world shalt go,’

‘Nay that fate awaits thee, Bali,’ spake Sugriva armed for strife,
‘When this right arm smites thy forehead, from thy bosom rends thy life!’

Closed the chiefs in fatal combat, each resistless in his pride,
And like running rills from mountains poured their limbs the purple tide,

Till Sugriva quick uprooting Sal tree from the jungle wood,
As the dark cloud hurls the lightning, hurled it where his brother stood,

Staggering ‘neath the blow terrific Bali reeled and almost fell,
As a proud ship overladen reels upon the ocean’s swell!

But with fiercer rage and fury Bali in his anguish rose,
And with mutual blows they battled,-brothers and relentless foes,

Like the sun and moon in conflict or like eagles in their fight,
Still they fought with cherished hatred and an unforgotten spite,

Till with mightier force and fury Bali did his younger quell,
Faint Sugriva fiercely struggling ‘neath his brother’s prowess fell!

Still the wrathful rivals wrestled with their bleeding arms and knees,
With their nails like claws of tigers and with riven rocks and trees,

And as INDRA battles Vritra in the tempest’s pealing roar,
Blood-stained Bali, red Sugriva, strove and struggled, fought and tore,

Till Sugriva faint and falt’ring fell like Vritra from the sky,
To his comrade and his helper turned his faint and pleading eye!

Ah! those soft and pleading glances smote the gentle Rama’s heart,
On his bow of ample stature Rama raised the fatal dart,

Like the fatal disc of YAMA was his proudly circled bow,
Like a snake of deadly poison flew his arrow swift and low,

Wingéd dwellers of the forest heard the twang with trembling few,
Echoing woods gave back the accent, lightly fled the startled deer,

And as INDRA’S flag is lowered when the Aswin winds prevail,
Lofty Bali pierced and bleeding by that fatal arrow fell!

poem – the sentence

Morning came and duteous Rama to the palace bent his way,
For to make his salutation and his due obeisance pay,

And he saw his aged father shorn of kingly pomp and pride,
And he saw the Queen Kaikeyi sitting by her consort’s side.

Duteously the righteous Rama touched the ancient monarch’s feet,
Touched the feet of Queen Kaikeyi with a son’s obeisance meet,

‘Rama!’ cried the feeble monarch, but the tear bedimmed his eye,
Sorrow choked his failing utterance and his bosom heaved a sigh,

Rama started in his terror at his father’s grief or wrath,
Like a traveller in the jungle crossed by serpent in his path!

Reft of sense appeared the monarch, crushed beneath a load of pain,
Heaving oft a sigh of sorrow as his heart would break in twain,

Like the ocean tempest-shaken, like the sun in eclipse pale,
Like a crushed repenting rishi when his truth and virtue fail!

Breathless mused the anxious Rama,-what foul action hath he done,
What strange anger fills his father, wherefore greets he not his son?

‘Speak, my mother,’ uttered Rama,’ what strange error on my part.
Unremembered sin or folly fills with grief my father’s heart,

Gracious unto me is father with a father’s boundless grace,
Wherefore clouds his altered visage, wherefore tears bedew his face?

Doth a piercing painful ailment rack his limbs with cruel smart,
Doth some secret silent anguish wring his tom and tortured heart,

Bharat lives with brave Satrughns, in thy father’s realms afar,
Hath some cloud of dark disaster crossed their bright auspicious star?

Duteously the royal consorts on the loving monarch wait,
Hath some woe or dire misfortune dimmed the lustre of their fate.

I would yield my life and fortune ere I wound my father’s heart,
Rath my unknown crime or folly caused his ancient bosom smart!

Ever dear is Queen Kaikeyi to her consort and her king,
Hath some angry accent escaped thee thus his royal heart to wring,

Speak, my ever-lovinging mother, speak the truth, for thou must know,
What distress or deep disaster pains his heart and clouds his brow?’

Mother’s love nor woman’s pity moved the deep-determined queen,
As in cold and cruel accents thus she spake her purpose keen:

‘Grief nor woe nor sudden ailment pains thy father loved of old,
But he fears to speak his purpose to his Rama true and bold,

And his loving accents falter some unloving wish to tell,
Till you give your princely promise, you Will serve his mandate well!

Listen more, in bygone seasons,-Rama thou wert then unborn,
I had saved thy royal father, he a gracious boon had sworn,

But his feeble heart repenting is by pride and passion stirred,
He would break his royal promise as a caitiff breaks his word,

Years have passed and now the monarch would his ancient word forego,
He would build a needless causeway when the waters ceased to flow!

Truth inspires each deed attempted and each word by monarchs spoke,
Not for thee, though loved and honoured, should a royal vow be broke,

If the true and righteous Rama binds him by his father’s vow,
I will tell thee of the anguish which obscures his royal brow,

If thy feeble bosom falter and thy halting purpose fail,
Unredeemed is royal promise and unspoken is my tale!

‘Speak thy word,’ exclaimed the hero, ‘and my purpose shall not fail,
Rama serves his father’s mandate and his bosom shall not quail,

Poisoned cup or death untimely,-what the cruel fates decree,
To his king and to his father Rama yields obedience free,

Speak my father’s royal promise, hold me by his promise tied,
Rama speaks and shall not palter, for his lips have never lied.’

Cold and clear Kaikeyi’s accents fell as falls the hunter’s knife,
‘Listen then to word of promise and redeem it with thy life,

Wounded erst by foes immortal, saved by Queen Kaikeyi’s care,
Two great boons your father plighted and his royal words were fair,

I have sought their due fulfilment,-brightly shines my Bharat’s star.
Bharat shall be Heir and Regent, Rama shall be banished far!

If thy father’s royal mandate thou wouldst list and honour still,
Fourteen years in Dandak’s forest live and wander at thy will,

Seven long years and seven, my Rama, thou shalt in the jungle dwell,
Bark of trees shall be thy raiment and thy home the hermit’s cell,

Over fair Kosala’s empire let my princely Bharat reign,
With his cars and steeds and tuskers, wealth and gold and arméd men!

Tender-hearted is the monarch, age and sorrow dim his eye,
And the anguish of a father checks his speech and purpose high,

For the love he bears thee, Rama, cruel vow he may not speak,
I have spoke his will and mandate, and thy true obedience seek.’

Calmly Rama heard the mandate, grief nor anger touched his heart,
Calmly from his father’s empire and his home prepared to part.

poem – greetings

Message from returning Rama, Vanars to Ayodhya brought,
Righteous Bharat gave his mandate with a holy joy distraught:

‘Let our city shrines and chaityas with a lofty music shake,
And ourpriests to bright Immortals grateful gifts and offerings make,

Bards, reciters of Puranas, minstrels versed in ancient song,
Women with their tuneful voices lays of sacred love prolong,

Let our queens and stately courtiers step in splendour and in state,
Chieftains with their marshalled forces range along the city gate,

And our white-robed holy Brahmans hymn and sacred mantras sing.
Offer greetings to our brother, render homage to our king!’

Brave Satrughna heard his elder and his mandate duly kept:
‘Be our great and sacred city levelled, cleansed, and duly swept,

And the grateful earth be sprinkled with the water from the well,
Strewn with parchéd rice and offering and with flower of sweetest smell,

On each turret, tower, and temple let our flags and colours wave,
On the gates of proud Ayodhya plant Ayodhya’a banners brave,

Gay festoons of flowering creeper home and street and dwelling line,
And in gold and glittering garment let the gladdened city shine.

Elephants in golden trappings thousand chiefs and nobles bore.
Chariots, cars, and gallant chargers speeding by Sarayu’s shore,

And the serried troops of battle marched with colours rich and brave,
Proudly o’er the gay procession did, Ayodhya’s banners wave.

In their stately gilded litters royal dames and damsels came,
Queen Kausalya first and foremost, Queen Sumitra rich in fame,

Pious priest and learned Brahman, chief of guild from near and far,
Noble chief and stately courtier with the wreath and water jar.

Girt by minstrel, bard, and herald chanting glorious deeds of yore,
Bharat came,-his elder’s sandals still the faithful younger bore,-

Silver-white his proud umbrella, silver-white his garland brave,
Silver-white the fan of chowri which his faithful henchmen wave,

Stately march of gallant chargers and the roll of battle car,
Heavy tread of royal tuskers and the beat of drum of war,

Dundubhi and echoing sankha, voice of nations gathered nigh,
Shook the city’s tower and temple and the pealing vault of sky!

Sailing o’er the cloudless ether Rama’s Pushpa chariot came,
And ten thousand jocund voices shouted Rama’s joyous name,

Women with their loving greetings, children with their joyous cry,
Tottering age and lisping infant hailed the righteous chief and high.

Bharat lifted up his glances unto Rama from afar,
Unto Sita, unto Lakshman, seated on the Pushpa car,

And he wafted high his greetings and he poured his pious lay,
As one wafts the chaunted mantra to the rising God of Day!

Silver swans by Rama’s bidding soft descended from the air,
And on earth the chariot lighted,-car of flowers divinely fair,-

Bharat mounting on the chariot, sought his long-lost elder’s grace,
Rama held his faithful younger in a brother’s dear embrace.

With his greetings unto Lakshman, unto Rama’s faithful dame,
To Bibhishan and Sugriva and each chief who thither came,

Bharat took the jewelled sandals with the rarest gems inlaid,
Placed them at the feet of Rama and in humble accents said:

‘Tokens of thy rule and empire, these have filled thy royal throne,
Faithful to his trust and duty Bharat renders back thine own,

Bharat’s life is joy and gladness, for returned from distant shore,
Thou shalt rule thy spacious kingdom and thy loyal men once more,

Thou shalt hold thy rightful empire and assume thy royal crown,
Faithful to his trust and duty, Bharat renders back thine own,

poem – the sandals

Tears nor sighs nor sad entreaty Rama’s changeless purpose shook,
Till. once more with hands conjoinéd Bharat to his elder spoke:

‘Rama, true to royal mercy, true to duties of thy race,
Grant this favour to thy mother, to thy brother grant this grace,

Vain were my unaided efforts to protect our father’s throne,
Town and hamlet, lord and tiller, turn to thee and thee alone!

Unto Rama, friends and kinsmen, chiefs and warriors, turn in pain,
And each city chief and elder, and each humble village swain,

Base thy empire strong, unshaken, on a loyal nation’s will,
With thy worth and with thy valour serve thy faithful people still!’

Rama raised the prostrate Bharat to his ever-loving breast,
And in voice of tuneful hansa thus his gentle speech addrest:

‘Trust me, Bharat, lofty virtue, strength and will to thee belong,
Thou could’st rule a worldwide empire in thy faith and purpose strong,

And our father’s ancient min’sters, ever faithful, wise and deep,
They shall help thee with their counsel and thy ancient frontiers keep.

List! the Moon may lose his lustre, Himalaya lose his snow,
Heaving Ocean pass his confines surging from the caves below,

But the truth-abiding Rama will not move from promise given,
He hath spoke and will not palter, help him righteous Gods in heaven!’

Blazing like the Sun in splendour, beauteous like the Lord of Night,
Rama vowed his Vow of Duty, changeless in his holy might!

‘Humble token,’ answered Bharat, ‘still I seek from Rama’s hand,
Token of his love and kindness, token of his high command,

From thy feet cast forth those sandals, they shall decorate the throne.
They shall nerve my heart to duty and shall safely guard thy own,

They shall to a loyal nation absent monarch’s will proclaim,
Watch the frontiers of the empire and the people’s homage claim!’

Rama gave the loosened sandals as his younger humbly prayed,
Bharat bowed to them in homage and his parting purpose said:

‘Not alone will banished Rama barks and matted tresses wear,
Fourteen years the crownéd Bharat will in hermit’s dress appear,

Henceforth Bharat dwells in palace guised as hermit of the wood,
In the sumptuous hall of feasting wild fruit is his only food,

Fourteen years shall pass in waiting, weary toil and penance dire
Then, if Rama comes not living, Bharat dies upon the pyre!’

poem – mother’s blessing

Tears of sorrow and of suffering flowed from Queen Kausalya’s eye,
As she saw departing Sita for her blessings drawing nigh,

And she clasped the gentle Sits, and she kissed her moistened head,
And her tears like summer tempest choked the loving words she said:

‘Part we, dear devoted daughter, to thy husband ever true,
With a woman’s whole affection render love to husband’s due!

False are women loved and cherished, gentle in their speech and word,
When misfortune’s shadows gather, who are faithless to their lord,

Who through years of sunny splendour smile and pass the livelong day,
When misfortune’s darkness thickens, from their husband turn away,

Who with changeful fortune changing oft ignore the plighted word,
And forget a woman’s duty, woman’s faith to wedded lord,

Who to holy love inconstant from their wedded consort part,
Manly deed nor manly virtue wins the changeful woman’s heart!

But the true and righteous woman, loving, spouse and changeless wife,
Faithful to her lord and consort holds him dearer than her life,

Ever true and righteous Sita, follow still my godlike son,
Like a God to thee is Rama in the woods or on the throne!’

‘I shall do my duty, mother,’ said the wife with wifely pride,
‘Like a God to me is Rama, Sita shall not leave his side,

From the Moon will part his lustre ere I part from wedded lord,
Ere from faithful wife’s devotion falter in my deed or word,

For the stringless lute is silent, idle is the wheel-less car,
And no wife the loveless consort, inauspicious is her star!

Small the measure of affection which the sire and brother prove,
Measureless to wedded woman is her lord and husband’s love,

True to Law and true to Scriptures, true to woman’s plighted word,
Can I ever be, my mother, faithless, loveless to my lord?’

Tears of joy and mingled sorrow filled the Queen Kausalya’s eye,
As she marked the faithful Sita true in heart, in virtue high,

And she wept the tears of sadness when with sweet obeisance due,
Spake with hands in meekness folded Rama ever good and true:

‘Sorrow not, my loving mother, trust in virtue’s changeless beam,
Swift will fly the years of exile like a brief and transient dream,

Girt by faithful friends and forces, blest by righteous Gods above,
Thou shalt see thy son returning to thy bosom and thy love!

Unto all the royal ladies Rama his obeisance paid,
For his failings unremembered, blessings and forgiveness prayed,

And his words were soft and gentle, and they wept to see him go,
Like the piercing cry of curlew rose the piercing voice of woe,

And in halls where drum and tabor rose in joy and regal pride,
Voice of grief and lamentation sounded far and sounded wide!

Then the true and faithful Lakshman parted from each weeping dame,
And to sorrowing Queen Sumitra with his due obeisance came,

And he bowed to Queen Sumitra and his mother kissed his head,
Stilled her anguish-laden bosom and in trembling accents said:

Dear devoted duteous Lakshman, ever to thy elder true,
When thy elder wends to forest, forest-life to thee is due,

Thou hast served him true and faithful in his glory and his fame,
This is Law for true and righteous,–serve him in his woe and shame,

This is Law for race of Raghu known on earth for holy might,
Bounteous in their sacred duty, brave and warlike in the fight!

Therefore tend him as thy father, as thy mother tend his wife,
And to thee, like fair Ayodhya be thy humble forest life,

Go, my son, the voice of Duty bids my gallant Lakshman go,
Serve thy elder with devotion and with valour meet thy foe

poem – pre winter

“Delightful are trees and fields with the outgrowth of new tender-leaves and crops, Lodhra trees are with their blossomy flowers, crops of rice are completely ripened, but now lotuses are on their surcease by far, for the dewdrops are falling… hence, this is the time of pre-winter that drew nigh…

“The busts of flirtatious women that are graced by bosomy bosoms are bedaubed and reddened with the redness of heart-stealing saffrony skincare, called Kashmir kumkum, on which embellished are the white pendants that are in shine with the whiteness of whitish dewdrops, white jasmines, and whitely moon…

“Undecorated are the hiplines of kittenish women with gem-studded golden strings of girdle, nor their lotus like feet that have the brightness of lotuses with jingling anklets, whose jingling is correlative to the clucks of swans, for the cold touch of coldish metal gives cold quivers…

“Unbearable is the touch of metallic circlets on wrists and bicep-lets on upper-arms of the couple of arms of vivacious women, or the touch of new silk cloths on the discoid of their waistline, or fine fabric on their robust breasts…

“The womenfolk are rubbing fragrant wood-turmeric powder on their bodies, and their lotus-like faces are tattooed with erasable tattoos of foliage, and their head-hair is fumigated with the fumes of aloe vera resin, and they are doing all this for merrymaking in an enjoyable lovemaking…

“Thoughgood fortune is bechanced in the happiness of lovemaking, the women of age are with sallowish and whitened faces owing to the strain of lovemaking, and though they want to laugh heartily, they desist from it, noticing very painful lower lips that are bitten with the edges of teeth of their lovers in lovemaking, lest the lip is lengthened, the pain is sharpened…

“On reaching the valleys of bosomy busts of women of age, the winter breeze is attaining their coolant splendidness, but when those bosoms are pressingly hugged by their lovers it is incarcerated there with an unable pain, and that pain is expressed by the Hemanta season, as though it is bewailing for a release of that breeze at least at dawn time, with tear-like dewdrops clinging on to the spires of grass-blades…

“Overspread with abundant rice crops and ornamented with herds of she-deer, and delightfully reverberated by the ruddy geese, with their calls and counter-calls, the complacent corridors of confines are captivating hearts…

“Now the lakes are adorned with fully blossomed black-lotuses, and elaborated with swan-like waterfowls in their excitement, and sheeted with considerably coldish waters that are depurated, thus these lakes are stealing the hearts of men, for men look up to them as the visages of women that are with black-lotus-like hairdo, with swanlike eyes, and whose bodies are cold, wanting a warm hug…

“Oh, dear, the Priyangu plants that give fragrant seeds are ripened by the snow caused coldness, and they are frequently wobbled by the snowy winds, and they now appear like the fragrant and frisky women gone into paleness and wobbliness by their dissociation from their lovers…

“These days the mouths of people are fragranced with the fragrance of liquors made from the essential oils of flowers, and their bodies are fragrant with the same fragrancy by their puffs of suspires, and while lying on beds jointly with their bodies in tight embrace, they are slipping into sleep, entwined with the essence of passion…

“The young and beautiful ladies that are new to their adulthood have bruises and marks of teeth notches on their lips, and even their bosoms are incised with nails of their lovers, thus these marks and incisions clearly indicate that they have enjoyed lovemaking consummately…

“Some woman of age staying in the warmth of tender sun to warm up herself, is holding a mirror and applying cosmetics on her lotus-like face, and while doing so, she is pouting her lips and examining them that are dented with teeth bites of her lover, whose quintessence is guzzled down by her lover in last night…

“One more woman whose body is fatigued by the strain of excessive lovemaking, and who is quiet sleepless last night, and whose eyes are palish like white lotuses, and whose bun is slithered and plaits of head-hair are loosened and hair tousling on her shoulders, bust, and on her bosoms, is tripping into sleep, warmed up by the rays of tender sun…

“Bedraggled are the loose ends of cloudlike blackish head-hair onto the lofty busty bosoms of some other slender-bodied women of age, by which busty weight crouching are their bodies, as slim pearly pendants would crouch onto their bosoms, and they are taking away the circlets of flowers from their hairdos, as those flowers are already utilised and devoid of their heart-pleasing fragrance of yester night, and now they are grooming their hair, afresh…

“On examining her body that is completely enjoyed by her lover, another woman is highly gladdened, and she remade her pleasant lips resplendently with lip-colouring, and on examining her bust with nail scratches, she embarrassedly wore her bodice, and while doing so the pain of friction of bodice with nail-scratches made her eyes to twitch, on which eyes dangling are her dark, delicate, and twitchy hair-curls…

“By the exertion in their long-lasting games of lovemaking other women of age are wearied, and their slim bodies are thrilling at their flanks from bosoms to thighs, thereby those prettily pretty women are applying bodily oils and pastes to take an oil bath, that relieves these tingling sensations…

“Pleasant with many an attribute, stealer of the hearts of women, and at which time the confines of villages are overspread with many an abundant rice-crop on earth, and overlaid is the sky with the garlanded flights of ruddy gees, that which is always with a heart-stealing environ, such as it is, let this season Hemanta, pre-winter, endow comfort to all of you passionate people…

poem – uma’s reward

Now woe to Umá, for young Love is slain,
Her Lord hath left her, and her hope is vain.
Woe, woe to Umá! how the Mountain-Maid
Cursed her bright beauty for its feeble aid!
‘Tis Beauty’s guerdon which she loves the best,
To bless her lover, and in turn be blest.
Penance must aid her now—or how can she
Win the cold heart of that stern deity?
Penance, long penance: for that power alone
Can make such love, so high a Lord, her own.
But, ah! how troubled was her mother’s brow
At the sad tidings of the mourner’s vow!
She threw her arms around her own dear maid,
Kissed, fondly kissed her, sighed, and wept, and prayed:
‘Are there no Gods, my child, to love thee here?
Frail is thy body, yet thy vow severe.
The lily, by the wild bee scarcely stirred,
Bends, breaks, and dies beneath the weary bird.’
Fast fell her tears, her prayer was strong, but still
That prayer was weaker than her daughter’s will.
Who can recall the torrent’s headlong force,
Or the bold spirit in its destined course?
She sent a maiden to her sire, and prayed
He for her sake would grant some bosky shade,
That she might dwell in solitude, and there
Give all her soul to penance and to prayer.
In gracious love the great Himálaya smiled,
And did the bidding of his darling child.
Then to that hill which peacocks love she came,
Known to all ages by the lady’s name.
Still to her purpose resolutely true,
Her string of noble pearls aside she threw,
Which, slipping here and there, had rubbed away
The sandal dust that on her bosom lay,
And clad her in a hermit coat of bark,
Rough to her gentle limbs, and gloomy dark,
Pressing too tightly, till her swelling breast
Broke into freedom through the unwonted vest.
Her matted hair was full as lovely now
As when ’twas braided o’er her polished brow.
Thus the sweet beauties of the lotus shine
When bees festoon it in a graceful line;
And, though the tangled weeds that crown the rill
Cling o’er it closely, it is lovely still.
With zone of grass the votaress was bound,
Which reddened the fair form it girdled round:
Never before the lady’s waist had felt
The ceaseless torment of so rough a belt.
Alas! her weary vow has caused to fade
The lovely colours that adorned the maid.
Pale is her hand, and her long finger-tips
Steal no more splendour from her paler lips,
Or, from the ball which in her play would rest,
Made bright and fragrant, on her perfumed breast.
Rough with the sacred grass those hands must be,
And worn with resting on her rosary.
Cold earth her couch, her canopy the skies,
Pillowed upon her arm the lady lies:
She who before was wont to rest her head
In the soft luxury of a sumptuous bed,
Vext by no troubles as she slumbered there,
But sweet flowers slipping from her loosened hair.
The maid put off, but only for awhile,
Her passioned glances and her witching smile.
She lent the fawn her moving, melting gaze,
And the fond creeper all her winning ways.
The trees that blossomed on that lonely mount
She watered daily from the neighbouring fount:
If she had been their nursing mother, she
Could not have tended them more carefully.
Not e’en her boy—her own bright boy—shall stay
Her love for them: her first dear children they.
Her gentleness had made the fawns so tame,
To her kind hand for fresh sweet grain they came,
And let the maid before her friends compare
Her own with eyes that shone as softly there.
Then came the hermits of the holy wood
To see the votaress in her solitude;
Grey elders came; though young the maid might seem,
Her perfect virtue must command esteem.
They found her resting in that lonely spot,
The fire was kindled, and no rite forgot.
In hermit’s mantle was she clad; her look
Fixt in deep thought upon the Holy Book.
So pure that grove: all war was made to cease,
And savage monsters lived in love and peace.
Pure was that grove: each newly built abode
Had leafy shrines where fires of worship glowed.
But far too mild her penance, Umá thought,
To win from heaven the lordly meed she sought.
She would not spare her form, so fair and frail,
If sterner penance could perchance prevail.
Oft had sweet pastime wearied her, and yet
Fain would she match in toil the anchoret.
Sure the soft lotus at her birth had lent
Dear Umá’s form its gentle element;
But gold, commingled with her being, gave
That will so strong, so beautifully brave.
Full in the centre of four blazing piles
Sate the fair lady of the winning smiles,
While on her head the mighty God of Day
Shot all the fury of his summer ray;
Yet her fixt gaze she turned upon the skies,
And quenched his splendour with her brighter eyes.
To that sweet face, though scorched by rays from heaven,
Still was the beauty of the lotus given,
Yet, worn by watching, round those orbs of light
A blackness gathered like the shades of night.
She cooled her dry lips in the bubbling stream,
And lived on Amrit from the pale moon-beam,
Sometimes in hunger culling from the tree
The rich ripe fruit that hung so temptingly.
Scorched by the fury of the noon-tide rays,
And fires that round her burned with ceaseless blaze,
Summer passed o’er her: rains of Autumn came
And throughly drenched the lady’s tender frame.
So steams the earth, when mighty torrents pour
On thirsty fields all dry and parched before.
The first clear rain-drops falling on her brow,
Gem it one moment with their light, and now
Kissing her sweet lip find a welcome rest
In the deep valley of the lady’s breast;
Then wander broken by the fall within
The mazy channels of her dimpled skin.
There as she lay upon her rocky bed,
No sumptuous roof above her gentle head,
Dark Night, her only witness, turned her eyes,
Red lightnings flashing from the angry skies,
And gazed upon her voluntary pain,
In wind, in sleet, in thunder, and in rain.
Still lay the maiden on the cold damp ground,
Though blasts of winter hurled their snows around,
Still pitying in her heart the mournful fate
Of those poor birds, so fond, so desolate,—
Doomed, hapless pair, to list each other’s moan
Through the long hours of night, sad and alone.
Chilled by the rain, the tender lotus sank:
She filled its place upon the streamlet’s bank.
Sweet was her breath as when that lovely flower
Sheds its best odour in still evening’s hour.
Red as its leaves her lips of coral hue:
Red as those quivering leaves they quivered too.
Of all stern penance it is called the chief
To nourish life upon the fallen leaf.
But even this the ascetic maiden spurned,
And for all time a glorious title earned.
Aparná—Lady of the unbroken fast—
Have sages called her, saints who knew the past.
Fair as the lotus fibres, soft as they,
In these stern vows she passed her night and day.
No mighty anchoret had e’er essayed
The ceaseless penance of this gentle maid.
There came a hermit: reverend was he
As Bráhmanhood’s embodied sanctity.
With coat of skin, with staff and matted hair,
His face was radiant, and he spake her fair.
Up rose the maid the holy man to greet,
And humbly bowed before the hermit’s feet.
Though meditation fill the pious breast,
It finds a welcome for a glorious guest:
The sage received the honour duly paid,
And fixed his earnest gaze upon the maid.
While through her frame unwonted vigour ran,
Thus, in his silver speech, the blameless saint began:
‘How can thy tender frame, sweet lady, bear
In thy firm spirit’s task its fearful share?
Canst thou the grass and fuel duly bring,
And still unwearied seek the freshening spring?
Say, do the creeper’s slender shoots expand,
Seeking each day fresh water from thy hand,
Till like thy lip each ruddy tendril glows,
That lip which, faded, still outreds the rose?
With loving glance the timid fawns draw nigh:
Say dost thou still with joy their wants supply?
For thee, O lotus-eyed, their glances shine,
Mocking the brightness of each look of thine.
O Mountain-Lady, it is truly said
That heavenly charms to sin have never led,
For even penitents may learn of thee
How pure, how gentle Beauty’s self may be.
Bright Gangá falling with her heavenly waves,
Himálaya’s head with sacred water laves,
Bearing the flowers the seven great Sages fling
To crown the forehead of the Mountain-King.
Yet do thy deeds, O bright-haired maiden, shed
A richer glory round his awful head.
Purest of motives, Duty leads thy heart:
Pleasure and gain therein may claim no part.
O noble maid, the wise have truly said
That friendship soon in gentle heart is bred.
Seven steps together bind the lasting tie:
Then bend on me, dear Saint, a gracious eye.
Fain, lovely Umá, would a Bráhman learn
What noble guerdon would thy penance earn.
Say, art thou toiling for a second birth,
Where dwells the great Creator? O’er the earth
Resistless sway? Or fair as Beauty’s Queen,
Peerless, immortal, shall thy form be seen?
The lonely soul bowed down by grief and pain,
By penance’ aid some gracious boon may gain.
But what, O faultless one, can move thy heart
To dwell in solitude and prayer apart?
Why should the cloud of grief obscure thy brow,
‘Mid all thy kindred, who so loved as thou?
Foes hast thou none: for what rash hand would dare
From serpent’s head the magic gem to tear?
Why dost thou seek the hermit’s garb to try,
Thy silken raiment and thy gems thrown by?
As though the sun his glorious state should leave,
Rayless to harbour ‘mid the shades of eve.
Wouldst thou win heaven by thy holy spells?
Already with the Gods thy father dwells.
A husband, lady? O forbear the thought,
A priceless jewel seeks not, but is sought.
Maiden, thy deep sighs tell me it is so;
Yet, doubtful still, my spirit seeks to know
Couldst thou e’er love in vain? What heart so cold
That hath not eagerly its worship told?
Ah! could the cruel loved one, thou fair maid,
Look with cold glances on that bright hair’s braid?
Thy locks are hanging loosely o’er thy brow,
Thine ear is shaded by no lotus now.
See, where the sun hath scorched that tender neck
Which precious jewels once were proud to deck.
Still gleams the line where they were wont to cling,
As faintly shows the moon’s o’ershadowed ring.
Now sure thy loved one, vain in beauty’s pride,
Dreamed of himself when wandering at thy side,
Or he would count him blest to be the mark
Of that dear eye, so soft, so lustrous dark.
But, gentle Umá, let thy labour cease;
Turn to thy home, fair Saint, and rest in peace.
By many a year of penance duly done
Rich store of merit has my labour won.
Take then the half, thy secret purpose name;
Nor in stern hardships wear thy tender frame.’
The holy Bráhman ceased: but Umá’s breast
In silence heaved, by love and fear opprest.
In mute appeal she turned her languid eye,
Darkened with weeping, not with softening dye,
To bid her maiden’s friendly tongue declare
The cherished secret of her deep despair:
‘Hear, holy Father, if thou still wouldst know,
Why her frail form endures this pain and woe,
As the soft lotus makes a screen to stay
The noontide fury of the God of Day.
Proudly disdaining all the blest above,
With heart and soul she seeks for Śiva’s love.
For him alone, the Trident-wielding God,
The thorny paths of penance hath she trod.
But since that mighty one hath Káma slain,
Vain every hope, and every effort vain.
E’en as life fled, a keen but flowery dart
Young Love, the Archer, aimed at Śiva’s heart.
The God in anger hurled the shaft away,
But deep in Umá’s tender soul it lay;
Alas, poor maid! she knows no comfort now,
Her soul’s on fire, her wild locks hide her brow.
She quits her father’s halls, and frenzied roves
The icy mountain and the lonely groves.
Oft as the maidens of the minstrel throng
To hymn great Śiva’s praises raised the song,
The lovelorn lady’s sobs and deep-drawn sighs
Drew tears of pity from their gentle eyes.
Wakeful and fevered in the dreary night
Scarce closed her eyes, and then in wild affright
Rang through the halls her very bitter cry,
‘God of the azure neck, why dost thou fly?’
While their soft bands her loving arms would cast
Hound the dear vision fading all too fast.
Her skilful hand, with true love-guided art,
Had traced the image graven on her heart.
‘Art thou all present? Dost thou fail to see
Poor Umá’s anguish and her love for thee?’
Thus oft in frenzied grief her voice was heard,
Chiding the portrait with reproachful word.
Long thus in vain for Śiva’s love she strove,
Then turned in sorrow to this holy grove.
Since the sad maid hath sought these forest glades
To hide her grief amid the dreary shades,
The fruit hath ripened on the spreading bough;
But ah! no fruit hath crowned her holy vow.
Her faithful friends alone must ever mourn
To see that beauteous form by penance worn,
But oh! that Śiva would some favour deign,
As Indra pitieth the parching plain!’
The maiden ceased: his secret joy dissembling,
The Bráhman turned to Umá pale and trembling:
‘And is it thus, or doth the maiden jest?
Is this the darling secret of thy breast?’
Scarce could the maid her choking voice command,
Or clasp her rosary with quivering hand:
‘O holy Sage, learned in the Vedas’ lore,
‘Tis even thus. Great Śiva I adore.
Thus would my steadfast heart his love obtain,
For this I gladly bear the toil and pain.
Surely the strong desire, the earnest will,
May win some favour from his mercy still.’
‘Lady,’ cried he, ‘that mighty Lord I know;
Ever his presence bringeth care and woe.
And wouldst thou still a second time prepare
The sorrows of his fearful life to share?
Deluded maid, how shall thy tender hand,
Decked with the nuptial bracelet’s jewelled band,
Be clasped in his, when fearful serpents twine
In scaly horror round that arm divine?
How shall thy robe, with gay flamingoes gleaming,
Suit with his coat of hide with blood-drops streaming?
Of old thy pathway led where flowerets sweet
Made pleasant carpets for thy gentle feet.
And e’en thy foes would turn in grief away
To see these vermeil-tinted limbs essay,
Where scattered tresses strew the mournful place,
Their gloomy path amid the tombs to trace.
On Śiva’s heart the funeral ashes rest,
Say, gentle lady, shall they stain thy breast,
Where the rich tribute of the Sandal trees
Sheds a pure odour on the amorous breeze?
A royal bride returning in thy state,
The king of elephants should bear thy weight.
How wilt thou brook the mockery and the scorn
When thou on Śiva’s bull art meanly borne?
Sad that the crescent moon his crest should be:
And shall that mournful fate be shared by thee?
His crest, the glory of the evening skies,
His bride, the moonlight of our wondering eyes!
Deformed is he, his ancestry unknown;
By vilest garb his poverty is shown.
O fawn-eyed lady, how should Śiva gain
That heart for which the glorious strive in vain
No charms hath he to win a maiden’s eye:
Cease from thy penance, hush the fruitless sigh!
Unmeet is he thy faithful heart to share,
Child of the Mountain, maid of beauty rare!
Not ‘mid the gloomy tombs do sages raise
The holy altar of their prayer and praise.’
Impatient Umá listened: the quick blood
Rushed to her temples in an angry flood.
Her quivering lip, her darkly-flashing eye
Told that the tempest of her wrath was nigh.
Proudly she spoke: ‘How couldst thou tell aright
Of one like Śiva, perfect, infinite?
‘Tis ever thus, the mighty and the just
Are scorned by souls that grovel in the dust.
Their lofty goodness and their motives wise
Shine all in vain before such blinded eyes.
Say who is greater, he who strives for power,
Or he who succours in misfortune’s hour?
Refuge of worlds, O how should Śiva deign
To look on men enslaved to paltry gain?
The spring of wealth himself, he careth naught
For the vile treasures that mankind have sought.
His dwelling-place amid the tombs may be,
Yet Monarch of the three great worlds is he.
What though no love his outward form may claim,
The stout heart trembles at his awful name.
Who can declare the wonders of his might?
The Trident-wielding God, who knows aright?
Whether around him deadly serpents twine,
Or if his jewelled wreaths more brightly shine;
Whether in rough and wrinkled hide arrayed,
Or silken robe, in glittering folds displayed;
If on his brow the crescent moon he bear,
Or if a shrunken skull be withering there;
The funeral ashes touched by him acquire
The glowing lustre of eternal fire;
Falling in golden showers, the heavenly maids
Delight to pour them on their shining braids.
What though no treasures fill his storehouse full,
What though he ride upon his horned bull,
Not e’en may Indra in his pride withhold
The lowly homage that is his of old,
But turns his raging elephant to meet
His mighty Lord, and bows before his feet,
Right proud to colour them rich rosy red
With the bright flowers that deck his prostrate head.
Thy slanderous tongue proclaims thy evil mind,
Yet in thy speech one word of truth we find.
Unknown thou call’st him: how should mortal man
Count when the days of Brahmá’s Lord began?
But cease these idle words: though all be true,
His failings many and his virtues few,
Still clings my heart to him, its chosen lord,
Nor fails nor falters at thy treacherous word.
Dear maiden, bid yon eager boy depart:
Why should the slanderous tale defile his heart?
Most guilty who the faithless speech begins,
But he who stays to listen also sins.’
She turned away: with wrath her bosom swelling,
Its vest of bark in angry pride repelling:
But sudden, lo, before her wondering eyes
In altered form she sees the sage arise;
‘Tis Śiva’s self before the astonished maid,
In all his gentlest majesty displayed.
She saw, she trembled, like a river’s course,
Checked for a moment in its onward force,
By some huge rock amid the torrent hurled
Where erst the foaming waters madly curled.
One foot uplifted, shall she turn away?
Unmoved the other, shall the maiden stay?
The silver moon on Śiva’s forehead shone,
While softly spake the God in gracious tone:
‘O gentle maiden, wise and true of soul,
Lo, now I bend beneath thy sweet control.
Won by thy penance, and thy holy vows,
Thy willing slave Śiva before thee bows.’
He spake, and rushing through her languid frame,
At his dear words returning vigour came.
She knew but this, that all her cares were o’er,
Her sorrows ended, she should weep no more!

Poem – Uma’s Nativity

Far in the north Himálaya, lifting high
His towery summits till they cleave the sky,
Spans the wide land from east to western sea,
Lord of the hills, instinct with deity.
For him, when Prithu ruled in days of old
The rich earth, teeming with her gems and gold,
The vassal hills and Meru drained her breast,
To deck Himálaya, for they loved him best;
And earth, the mother, gave her store to fill
With herbs and sparkling ores the royal hill.
Proud mountain-king! his diadem of snow
Dims not the beauty of his gems below.
For who can gaze upon the moon, and dare
To mark one spot less brightly glorious there?[Pg 2]
Who, ‘mid a thousand virtues, dares to blame
One shade of weakness in a hero’s fame?
Oft, when the gleamings of his mountain brass
Flash through the clouds and tint them as they pass,
Those glories mock the hues of closing day,
And heaven’s bright wantons hail their hour of play;
Try, ere the time, the magic of their glance,
And deck their beauty for the twilight dance.
Dear to the sylphs are the cool shadows thrown
By dark clouds wandering round the mountain’s zone,
Till frightened by the storm and rain they seek
Eternal sunshine on each loftier peak.
Far spread the wilds where eager hunters roam,
Tracking the lion to his dreary home.
For though the melting snow has washed away
The crimson blood-drops of the wounded prey,
Still the fair pearls that graced his forehead tell
Where the strong elephant, o’ermastered, fell,
And clinging to the lion’s claws, betray,
Falling at every step, the mighty conqueror’s way.
There birch-trees wave, that lend their friendly aid
To tell the passion of the love-lorn maid,
So quick to learn in metal tints to mark
Her hopes and fears upon the tender bark.
List! breathing from each cave, Himálaya leads
The glorious hymn with all his whispering reeds,[Pg 3]
Till heavenly minstrels raise their voice in song,
And swell his music as it floats along.
There the fierce elephant wounds the scented bough
To ease the torment of his burning brow;
And bleeding pines their odorous gum distil
To breathe rare fragrance o’er the sacred hill.
There magic herbs pour forth their streaming light
From mossy caverns through the darksome night,
And lend a torch to guide the trembling maid
Where waits her lover in the leafy shade.
Yet hath he caves within whose inmost cells
In tranquil rest the murky darkness dwells,
And, like the night-bird, spreads the brooding wing
Safe in the shelter of the mountain-king,
Unscorned, uninjured; for the good and great
Spurn not the suppliant for his lowly state.
Why lingers yet the heavenly minstrel’s bride
On the wild path that skirts Himálaya’s side?
Cold to her tender feet—oh, cold—the snow,
Why should her steps—her homeward steps—be slow?
‘Tis that her slender ankles scarce can bear
The weight of beauty that impedes her there;
Each rounded limb, and all her peerless charms,
That broad full bosom, those voluptuous arms.[Pg 4]
E’en the wild kine that roam his forests bring
The royal symbols to the mountain-king.
With tails outspread, their bushy streaming hair
Flashes like moonlight through the parted air.
What monarch’s fan more glorious might there be,
More meet to grace a king as proud as he?
There, when the nymphs, within the cave’s recess,
In modest fear their gentle limbs undress,
Thick clouds descending yield a friendly screen,
And blushing beauty bares her breast unseen.
With pearly dewdrops Gangá loads the gale
That waves the dark pines towering o’er the vale,
And breathes in welcome freshness o’er the face
Of wearied hunters when they quit the chase.
So far aloft, amid Himálayan steeps,
Crouched on the tranquil pool the lotus sleeps,
That the bright Seven who star the northern sky
Cull the fair blossoms from their seats on high;
And when the sun pours forth his morning glow
In streams of glory from his path below,
They gain new beauty as his kisses break
His darlings’ slumber on the mountain lake.
Well might that ancient hill by merit claim
The power and glory of a monarch’s name;[Pg 5]
Nurse of pure herbs that grace each holy rite,
Earth’s meetest bearer of unyielding might.
The Lord of Life for this ordained him king,
And bade him share the sacred offering.
Gladly obedient to the law divine,
He chose a consort to prolong his line.
No child of earth, born of the Sage’s will,
The fair nymph Mená pleased the sovran hill.
To her he sued, nor was his prayer denied,
The Saints’ beloved was the mountain’s bride.
Crowned with all bliss and beauty were the pair,
He passing glorious, she was heavenly fair.
Swiftly the seasons, winged with love, flew on,
And made her mother of a noble son,
The great Maináka, who in triumph led
His Serpent beauties to the bridal bed;
And once when Indra’s might those pinions rent
That bare the swift hills through the firmament,
(So fierce his rage, no mountain could withstand
The wild bolt flashing from his red right hand,)
He fled to Ocean, powerful to save,
And hid his glory ‘neath the friendly wave.
A gentle daughter came at length to bless
The royal mother with her loveliness;
Born once again, for in an earlier life
High fame was hers, as Śiva’s faithful wife.[Pg 6]
But her proud sire had dared the God to scorn;
Then was her tender soul with anguish torn,
And jealous for the lord she loved so well,
Her angered spirit left its mortal cell.
Now deigned the maid, a lovely boon, to spring
From that pure lady and the mountain-king.
When Industry and Virtue meet and kiss,
Holy their union, and the fruit is bliss.
Blest was that hour, and all the world was gay,
When Mená’s daughter saw the light of day.
A rosy glow suffused the brightening sky;
An odorous breeze came sweeping softly by.
Breathed round the hill a sweet unearthly strain,
And the glad heavens poured down their flowery rain.
That fair young maiden diademmed with light
Made her dear mother’s fame more sparkling bright.
As the blue offspring of the Turquois Hills
The parent mount with richer glory fills,
When the cloud’s voice has caused the gem to spring,
Responsive to its gentle thundering.
Then was it sweet, as days flew by, to trace
The dawning charm of every infant grace,
Even as the crescent moons their glory pour
More full, more lovely than the eve before.
As yet the maiden was unknown to fame;
Child of the Mountain was her only name.[Pg 7]
But when her mother, filled with anxious care
At her stern penance, cried Forbear! Forbear!
To a new title was the warning turned,
And Umá was the name the maiden earned.
Loveliest was she of all his lovely race,
And dearest to her father. On her face
Looking with love he ne’er could satisfy
The thirsty glances of a parent’s eye.
When spring-tide bids a thousand flowerets bloom
Loading the breezes with their rich perfume,
Though here and there the wandering bee may rest,
He loves his own—his darling mango—best.
The Gods’ bright river bathes with gold the skies,
And pure sweet eloquence adorns the wise.
The flambeau’s glory is the shining fire;
She was the pride, the glory of her sire,
Shedding new lustre on his old descent,
His loveliest child, his richest ornament.
The sparkling Gangá laved her heavenly home,
And o’er her islets would the maiden roam
Amid the dear companions of her play
With ball and doll to while the hours away.
As swans in autumn in assembling bands
Fly back to Gangá’s well-remembered sands:
As herbs beneath the darksome shades of night
Collect again their scattered rays of light:[Pg 8]
So dawned upon the maiden’s waking mind
The far-off memory of her life resigned,
And all her former learning in its train,
Feelings, and thoughts, and knowledge came again.
Now beauty’s prime, that craves no artful aid,
Ripened the loveliness of that young maid:
That needs no wine to fire the captive heart,—
The bow of Love without his flowery dart.
There was a glory beaming from her face,
With love’s own light, and every youthful grace:
Ne’er had the painter’s skilful hand portrayed
A lovelier picture than that gentle maid;
Ne’er sun-kissed lily more divinely fair
Unclosed her beauty to the morning air.
Bright as a lotus, springing where she trod,
Her glowing feet shed radiance o’er the sod.
That arching neck, the step, the glance aside,
The proud swans taught her as they stemmed the tide,
Whilst of the maiden they would fondly learn
Her anklets’ pleasant music in return.
When the Almighty Maker first began
The marvellous beauty of that child to plan,
In full fair symmetry each rounded limb
Grew neatly fashioned and approved by Him:
The rest was faultless, for the Artist’s care
Formed each young charm most excellently fair,[Pg 9]
As if his moulding hand would fain express
The visible type of perfect loveliness.
What thing of beauty may the poet dare
With the smooth wonder of those limbs compare?
The young tree springing by the brooklet’s side?
The rounded trunk, the forest-monarch’s pride?
Too rough that trunk, too cold that young tree’s stem;
A softer, warmer thing must vie with them.
Her hidden beauties though no tongue may tell,
Yet Śiva’s love will aid the fancy well:
No other maid could deem her boasted charms
Worthy the clasp of such a husband’s arms.
Between the partings of fair Umá’s vest
Came hasty glimpses of a lovely breast:
So closely there the sweet twin hillocks rose,
Scarce could the lotus in the vale repose.
And if her loosened zone e’er slipped below,
All was so bright beneath the mantle’s flow,
So dazzling bright, as if the maid had braced
A band of gems to sparkle round her waist;
And the dear dimples of her downy skin
Seemed fitting couch for Love to revel in.
Her arms were softer than the flowery dart,
Young Káma’s arrow, that subdues the heart;
For vain his strife with Śiva, till at last
He chose those chains to bind his conqueror fast.[Pg 10]
E’en the new moon poured down a paler beam
When her long fingers flashed their rosy gleam,
And brighter than Aśoka’s blossom threw
A glory round, like summer’s evening hue.
The strings of pearl across her bosom thrown
Increased its beauty, and enhanced their own,—
Her breast, her jewels seeming to agree,
The adorner now, and now the adorned to be.
When Beauty gazes on the fair full moon,
No lotus charms her, for it blooms at noon:
If on that flower she feed her raptured eye,
No moon is shining from the mid-day sky;
She looked on Umá’s face, more heavenly fair,
And found their glories both united there.
The loveliest flower that ever opened yet
Laid in the fairest branch: a fair pearl set
In richest coral, with her smile might vie
Flashing through lips bright with their rosy dye.
And when she spoke, upon the maiden’s tongue,
Distilling nectar, such rare accents hung,
The sweetest note that e’er the Koïl poured
Seemed harsh and tuneless as a jarring chord.
The melting glance of that soft liquid eye,
Tremulous like lilies when the breezes sigh,
Which learnt it first—so winning and so mild—
The gentle fawn, or Mená’s gentler child?[Pg 11]
And oh, the arching of her brow! so fine
Was the rare beauty of its pencilled line,
Love gazed upon her forehead in despair
And spurned the bow he once esteemed so fair:
Her long bright tresses too might shame the pride
Of envious yaks who roamed the mountain-side.
Surely the Maker’s care had been to bring
From Nature’s store each sweetest, loveliest thing,
As if the world’s Creator would behold
All beauty centred in a single mould.
When holy Nárad—Saint who roams at will—
First saw the daughter of the royal hill,
He hailed the bride whom Śiva’s love should own
Half of himself, and partner of his throne.
Himálaya listened, and the father’s pride
Would yield the maiden for no other’s bride:
To Fire alone of all bright things we raise
The holy hymn, the sacrifice of praise.
But still the monarch durst not, could not bring
His child, unsought, to Heaven’s supremest King;
But as a good man fears his earnest prayer
Should rise unheeded, and with thoughtful care
Seeks for some friend his eager suit to aid,
Thus great Himálaya in his awe delayed.[Pg 12]
Since the sad moment when his gentle bride
In the full glory of her beauty died,
The mournful Śiva in the holy grove
Had dwelt in solitude, and known not love.
High on that hill where musky breezes throw
Their balmy odours o’er eternal snow;
Where heavenly minstrels pour their notes divine,
And rippling Gangá laves the mountain pine,
Clad in a coat of skin all rudely wrought
He lived for prayer and solitary thought.
The faithful band that served the hermit’s will
Lay in the hollows of the rocky hill,
Where from the clefts the dark bitumen flowed.
Tinted with mineral dyes their bodies glowed;
Clad in rude mantles of the birch-tree’s rind,
With bright red garlands was their hair entwined.
The holy bull before his master’s feet
Shook the hard-frozen earth with echoing feet,
And as he heard the lion’s roaring swell
In distant thunder from the rocky dell,
In angry pride he raised his voice of fear
And from the mountain drove the startled deer.
Bright fire—a shape the God would sometimes wear
Who takes eight various forms—was glowing there.
Then the great deity who gives the prize
Of penance, prayer, and holy exercise,[Pg 13]
As though to earn the meed he grants to man,
Himself the penance and the pain began.
Now to that holy lord, to whom is given
Honour and glory by the Gods in heaven,
The worship of a gift Himálaya paid,
And towards his dwelling sent the lovely maid;
Her task, attended by her youthful train,
To woo his widowed heart to love again.
The hermit welcomed with a courteous brow
That gentle enemy of hermit vow.
The still pure breast where Contemplation dwells
Defies the charmer and the charmer’s spells.
Calm and unmoved he viewed the wondrous maid,
And bade her all his pious duties aid.
She culled fresh blossoms at the God’s command,
Sweeping the altar with a careful hand;
The holy grass for sacred rites she sought,
And day by day the fairest water brought.
And if the unwonted labour caused a sigh,
The fair-haired lady turned her languid eye
Where the pale moon on Śiva’s forehead gleamed,
And swift through all her frame returning vigour streamed.

Poem – Sacrifice of Animals

Victor of a hundred battles, Arjun came with conquering steed,
Vyasa herald of the Vedas bade the holy rite proceed:

‘For the day is come, Yudhishthir, let the sacrifice be done,
Let the priests repeat the mantra golden as the morning sun!

Threefold bounteous be thy presents and a threefold merit gain,
For thy wealth of gold is ample, be thy gifts like summer’s rain,

May the threefold rich performance purify the darkening stain,
Blood of warriors and of kinsmen slaughtered on the gory plain,

May the yajna’s pure ablution wash thee of the cruel sin,
And the meed of sacrificers may the good Yudhishthir win!

Vyasa spake; and good Yudhishthir took the diksha of the rite,
And commenced the aswa-medha gladdening every living wight,

Round the altar’s holy lustre moved the priests with sacred awe,
Swerved not from the rule of duty, failed not in the sacred law.

Done the rite of pure pravargya with the pious hymn and lay,
To the task of abhishava priests and Brahmans led the way,

And the holy Soma-drinkers pressed the sacred Soma plant,
And performed the pure savana with the solemn saman chant.

Bounty waits on squalid hunger, gifts dispel the suppliant’s fear,
Gold revives the poor and lowly, mercy wipes the mourner’s tear,

Tender care relieves the stricken by the gracious king’s command,
Charity with loving sweetness spreads her smile o’er all the land!

Day by day the aswa-medha doth with sacred rites proceed,
Day by day on royal bounty poor and grateful myriads feed,

And adept in six Vedangas, strict in vow and rich in lore,
Sage preceptors, holy teachers, grew in virtue ever more!

Six good stakes of vilwa timber, six of hard khadira wood,
Six of seasoned sarvavarnin, on the place of yajna stood,

Two were made of devadaru, pine that on Himalay grows,
One was made of wood of slesha, which the sacrificer knows,

Other stakes of golden lustre quaint with curious carving done,
Draped in silk and gold-brocaded like the constellations shone!

And the consecrated altar built and raised of bricks of gold,
Shone in splendour like the altar Daksha built in days of old,

Eighteen cubits square the structure, four deep layers of brick in height,
With a spacious winged triangle like an eagle in its flight!

Beasts whose flesh is pure and wholesome, dwellers of the lake or sky,
Priests assigned each varied offering to each heavenly power on high,

Bulls of various breed and colour, steeds of mettle true and tried,
Other creatures, full three hundred, to the many stakes were tied.

Deva-rishis viewed the feasting, sweet Gandharvas woke the song,
Apsaras like gleams of sunlight on the greensward tripped along,

Kinnaras and Kim-purushas mingled in the holy rite,
Siddhas of austerest penance stood around the sacred site,

Vyasa’s great and gifted pupils who the holy hymns compiled,
Helped the royal aswa-medha, on the royal yajna smiled!

From the bright ethereal mansions heavenly minstrel Narad came,
Chitra-sena woke the music, singer of celestial fame,

Cheered by more than mortal music priests their holy task begun,
And Yudhishthir’s fame and virtue with a brighter lustre shone!

Secret Signs – Sant Surdas

Krishna conveyed by signs to clever Radha. [he could not speak out as her girl friends were with her] to make a pretence of milking the cows, and picking up the milkpail come to meet him in the meadow. Nanda, his foster-father, would also be there to have the cows counted and verified, and he would bring him along too. So they would have a chance to meet. Radha’s heart rejoiced at their mutual resolve. But that lovely golden-hued girl, feeling abashed, hid her face in her arms. Krishna amorously lifting it up gazed at her lovingly. They kept their hidden love to themselves. Says Suradasa as Krishna went on speaking sweet nothings, Radha blushed with shame.

Breakfast – Sant Surdas

O Hari, ’tis morn, awake, there’s water in the jar for you to wash your face no need to hurry there’s plenty of time. 
I’ll bring you whatever you like for your breakfast- dried fruits, butter, honey and bread. 
Says Suradasa, Yashoda’s heart overflows with joy when her gaze alights on her darling boy.

The Lord Helps His Devotees – Sant Surdas

The voice falters 

when it sings of the deeds of the Lord 

who’s an ocean of mercy. 

He gave guileful Putana, who posed as his mother, a 

mother’s reward! 

He of whom the Vedas and the Upanishads sing as the Unmanifest, 

let Yashoda bind him with a rope, 

lamented Ugrasena’s grief, 

and after killing Kansa made him king 

paying him obeisance, bowing low; 

Freed the kings held captive by jardsandha 

at which the kingly hosts sang his praises; 

removing Gautama’s curse 

he restored life to stone-turned Ahalya:’ 

all in a moment he rescued Braj’s ruler from the sea-monster running to his 

aid as a cow to her calf,” 

he came hastening to rescue the king of the elephants; 

he got Namadeva’s hut thatched. 

says Suradasa, O, make Hari hear my prayer.

Yasoda Inducing Krishna To Stay Nearby – Sant Surdas

Kanha, don’t go so far to play, 

you do not know the ‘hau’ is here, 

I’ve learnt of it today. 

one boy came running just now 

I saw him crying away, 

the ‘hau’ clips the ears away 

of little boys astray. 

come let us be up and gone 

to near our place of stay, 

Sur, Shyam on hearing this, 

with Balaram came away.

poem – the wedding

Sage Vasishtha skilled in duty placed Videha’s honoured king,
Viswa-mitra, Sata-nanda, all within the sacred ring,

And he raised the holy altar as the ancient writs ordain,
Decked and graced with scented garlands grateful unto gods and men,

And he set the golden ladles, vases pierced by artists skilled,
Holy censers fresh and fragrant, cups with sacred honey filled,

Sanka bowls and shining salvers, arghya plates for honoured guest,
Parchéd rice arranged in dishes, corn unhusked that filled the rest,

And with careful hand Vasishtha grass around the altar flung,
Offered gift to lighted AGNI and the sacred mantra sung!

Softly came the sweet-eyed Sita,-bridal blush upon her brow,
Rama in his manly beauty came to take the sacred vow,

Janak placed his beauteous daughter facing Dasa-ratha’s soil,
Spake with father’s fond emotion and the holy rite was done:

‘This is Sita child of Janak, dearer unto him than life,
Henceforth sharer of thy virtue, be. she, prince, thy faithful wife,

Of thy weal and woe partaker, be she thine in every land,
Cherish her in joy and sorrow, clasp her hand within thy hand,

As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife,
And my Sita best of women follows thee in death or life! ‘

Tears bedew his ancient bosom, gods and men his wishes share,
And he sprinkles holy water on the blest and wedded pair.

Next he turned to Sita’s sister, Urmila of beauty rare,
And to Lakshman young and valiant spake in accents soft and fair:

Lakshman, dauntless in thy duty, loved of men and Gods above,
Take my dear devoted daughter, Urmila of stainless love,

Lakshman, fearless in thy virtue, take thy true and faithful wife,
Clasp her hand within thy fingers, be she thine in death or life! ‘

To his brother’s child Mandavi, Janak turned with father’s love,
Yielded her to righteous Bharat, prayed for blessings from above:

‘Bharat, take the fair Mandavi, be she thine in death or life,
Clasp her hand within thy fingers as thy true and faithful wife! ‘

Last of all was Sruta-kriti, fair in form and fair in face,
And her gentle name was honoured for her acts of righteous grace,

‘Take her by the hand, Satrughna, be she thine in death or life,
As the shadow to the suistance, to her lord is faithful wife! ‘

Then the princes held the maidens, hand embraced in loving hand,
And Vasishtha spake the mantra, holiest priest in all the land,

And as ancient rite ordaineth, and as sacred laws require,
Stepped each bride and princely bridegroom round the altar’s lighted fire,

Round Videha’s ancient monarch, round the holy rishis all,
Ughtly stepped the gentle maidens, proudly stepped the princes tall!

And a rain of flowers descended from the sky serene and fair,
And a soft celestial music filled the fresh and fragrant air,

Bright Gandkarvas skilled in music waked the sweet celestial song
Fair Apsaras in their beauty on the greensward tripped along!

As the flowery rain descended and the music rose in pride,
Thrice around the lighted altar every bridegroom led his bride,

And the nuptial rites were ended, princes took their brides away,
Janak followed with his courtiers, and the town was proud and gay!