The Ramayana/Book I/Canto III: The Argument

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto III: The Argument


The hermit thus with watchful heed
Received the poem's pregnant seed,
And looked with eager thought around
If fuller knowledge might be found.
His lips with water first bedewed,[1]
He sate, in reverent attitude
On holy grass,[2] the points all bent
Together toward the orient;[3]
And thus in meditation he
Entered the path of poesy.
Then clearly, through his virtue's might,
All lay discovered to his sight,
Whate'er befell, through all their life,
Ráma, his brother, and his wife:
And Das'aratha and each queen
At every time, in every scene:
His people too, of every sort;
The nobles of his princely court:
Whate'er was said, whate'er decreed,
Each time they sate each plan and deed:
For holy thought and fervent rite
Had so refined his keener sight
That by his sanctity his view
The present, past, and future knew,
And he with mental eye could grasp,
Like fruit within his fingers clasp,
The life of Ráma, great and good,
Roaming with Sitá in the wood.
He told, with secret piercing eyes,
The tale of Ráma's high emprise.
Each listening ear that shall entice,
A sea of pearls of highest price.
Thus good Válmíki, sage divine,
Rehearsed the tale of Raghu's line,
As Nárad, heavenly saint, before
Had traced the story's outline o'er.
He sang of Ráma's princely birth,
His kindness and heroic worth;
His love for all, his patient youth,
His gentleness and constant truth,
And many a tale and legend old
By holy Vis'vámitra told.
How Janak's child he wooed and won,
Aud broke the bow that bent to none.
How he with every virtue fraught
His namesake Ráma[4] met and fought.
The choice of Ráma for the throne;
The malice by Kalseyí shown,
Whose evil counsel marred the plan
And drove him forth a banisht man.
How the king grieved and groaned,and cried,

And swooned away and pining died.
The subjects' woe when thus bereft;
And how the following crowds he left:
With Guha talked, and firmly stern
Ordered his driver to return.
How Gangá's farther shore he gained;
By Bharadvája entertained,
By whose advice be journeyed still
And came to Chitrakúta's hill.
How there he dwelt and built a cot;
How Bharat journeyed to the spot;
His earnest supplication made;
Drink-offerings to their father paid;
The sandals given by Ráma's hand,
As emblems of his right to stand:
How from his presence Bharat went
And years in Nandigráma spent.
How Ráma entered Dandak wood
And in Sutíkhna's presence stood.
The favour Anasúyá showed,
The wondrous balsam she bestowed.
How Sárabhangá's dwelling place
They sought; saw Indra face to face;
The meeting with Agastya gained;
The heavenly bow from him obtained.
How Ráma with Virádha met;
Their home in Panchavata set.
How S'úrpanakhá underwent
The mockery and disfigurement.
Of Trígirá's and Khara's fall,
Of Rávan roused at vengeance call,
Máricha doomed, without escape;
The fair Videhan[5] lady's rape.
How Ráma wept and raved in vain,
And how the Vulture-king was slain.
How Ráma fierce Kabandha slew;
Then to the side of Pampá drew.
Met Hanumán, and her whose vows
Were kept beneath the greenwood boughs.
How Raghu's son the lofty-souled,
On Pampá's bank wept uncontrolled,
Then journeyed, Rishyamúk to reach,
And of Sugríva then had speech.
The friendship made, which both had sought:
How Báli and Sugríva fought.
How Báli in the strife was slain,
And how Sugríva came to reign.
The treaty, Tára's wild lament;
The rainy nights in watching spent.
The wrath of Raghu's lion son;
The gathering of the hosts in one.
The sending of the spies about,
And all the regions pointed out.
The ring by Ráma's hand bestowed;
The cave wherein the bear abode.
The fast proposed, their lives to end;
Sampati gained to be their friend.
The scaling of the hill, the leap
Of Hanumán across the deep.
Ocean's command that bade them seek
Maináka of the lofty peak.
The death of Sinhiká, the sight
Of Lanká with her palace bright
How Hanuman stole in at eve;
His plan the giants to deceive.
How through the square he made his way
To chambers where the women lay,
Within the As'oka garden came
And there found Ráma's captive dame,
His colloquy with her he sought,
And giving of the ring he brought.
How Sítá gave a gem o'erjoyed;
How Hanumán the grove destroyed,
How giantesses trembling fled,
And servant fiends were smitten dead.
How Hanumán was seized; their ire
When Lanká blazed with hostile fire.
His leap across the sea once more;
The eating of the honey store,
How Ráma he consoled, and how
He showed the gem from Sítá's brow,
With Ocean, Ráma's interview;
The bridge that Nala o'er it threw.
The crossing, and the sitting down
At night round Lanká's royal town.
The treaty with Vibhíshan made:
The plan for Rávan's slaughter laid.
How Kumbhakarna in his pride
And Meghanáda fought and died.
How Rávan in the fight was slain,
And captive Sítá brought again.
Vibhíshan set upon the throne;
The flying chariot Pushpak shown.
How Brahmá and the Gods appeared,
And Sítá's doubted honour cleared.
How In the flying car they rode
To Bháradvája's cabin abode,
The Wind-God's son sent on afar;
How Bharat met the flying car.
How Ráma then was king ordained;
The legions their discharge obtained.
How Ráma cast his queen away;
How grew the people's love each day.
Thus did the saint Válmíki tell
Whate'er in Ráma's life befell,
And in the closing verse all
That yet to come will once befall


  1. 'The sipping of water is a requisite introduction of all rites: without it, says the Sámha Purana, all acts of religion are vain.' COLEBROOKE.
  2. The darhha or kus'a (Pea cynosuroides), a kind of grass used in sacrifice by the Hindus as cerbena was by the Romans.
  3. The direction in which the grass hould be placed upon the ground as a seat for the Gods, on occasion of offerings made to them.
  4. Parasúráma or Ráma with the Axe. See Canto LXXIV.
  5. Sitá. Videha was the country of which Mithilá was the capital.