The Ramayana/Book I/Canto L: Janak

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto L: Janak

The sons of Raghu journeyed forth,
Bending their steps 'twixt east and north.
Soon, guided by the sage, they found,
Enclosed, a sacrificial ground.
Then to the best of saints, his guide,
In admiration Ráma cried:

The high-souled king no toil has spared,
But nobly for his rite prepared.
How many thousand Bráhmans here,
From every region, far and near,
Well read in holy lore, appear!
How many tents, that sages screen,
With wains in hundreds, here are seen!
Great Bráhman, let us find a place
Where we may stay and rest a space.'
The hermit did as Ráma prayed,
And in a spot his lodging made,

Far from the crowd, sequestered, clear,
With copious water flowing near.

Then Janak, best of kings, aware
Of Vis'vámitra lodging there,
With S'atánanda for his guide--
The priest on whom he most relied.
His chaplain void of guile and stain--
And others of his priestly train,
Bearing the gift that greets the guest,
To meet him with all honour pressed.
The saint received with gladsome mind
Each honour and observance kind:
Then of his health he asked the king,
And how his rites were prospering,
Janak, with chaplain and with priest,
Addressed the hermits, chief and least,
Accosting all, in due degree,
With proper words of courtesy.
Then, with his palms together laid,
The king his supplication made:
'Deign, reverend lord, to sit thee down
With these good saints of high renown.'
Then sate the chief of hermits there,
Obedient to the monarch's prayer.
Chaplain and priest, and king and peer,
Sate in their order, far or near.
Then thus the king began to say:
'The Gods have blest my rite to-day,
And with the sight of thee repaid
The preparations I have made.
Grateful am I, so highly blest,
That thou, of saints the holiest,
Hast come, O Bráhman, here with all
These hermits to the festival.
Twelve days, O Bráhman Sage, remain--
For so the learned priests ordain--
And then, O heir of Kus'ik's name,
The Gods will come their dues to claim.'

With looks that testified delight
Thus spake he to the anchorite,
Then with his suppliant hands upraised,
He asked, as earnestly he gazed:
'These princely youths, O Sage, who vie
In might with children of the sky,
Heroic, born for happy fate,
With elephants' or lions' gait,
Bold as the tiger and the bull,
With lotus eyes so large and full,
Armed with the quiver, sword and bow,
Whose figures like the As'vins show,
Like children of the heavenly Powers,
Come freely to these shades of ours,--
How have they reached on foot this place?
What do they seek, and what their race?
As sun and moon adorn the sky,
This spot the heroes glorify:
Alike in stature, port, and mien,
The same fair form in each is seen.' [1]

Thus spoke the monarch, lofty-souled.
The saint, of heart unfathomed, told
How, sons of Das'aratha, they
Accompanied his homeward way,
How in the hermitage they dwelt,
And slaughter to the demons dealt:
Their journey till the spot they neared
Whence fair Vis'álá's towers appeared:
Ahalyá seen and freed from taint;
Their meeting with her lord the saint;
And how they thither came, to know
The virtue of the famous bow.

Thus Vis'vámitra spoke the whole
To royal Janak, great of soul.
And when this wondrous tale was o'er,
The glorious hermit said no more.


  1. The preceding sixteen lines have occured before in Canto XLVIII. This Homeric custom of repeating a passage of several lines is strange to our poet. This is the only instance I remember. The repetition of single lines is common enough.' SCHLEGEL.