The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LII: Vas'ishtha's Feast

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LII: Vas'ishtha's Feast

Right glad was Vis'vámitra when
He saw the prince of saintly men.
Low at his feet the hero bent,
And did obeisance, reverent.
   The king was welcomed in, and shown
A seat beside the hermit's own,
Who offered him, when resting there,
Fruit in due course, and woodland fare.
And Vis'vámitra, noblest king,
Received Vas'ishtha's welcoming,
Turned to his host, and prayed him tell
That he and all with him were well.
Vas'ishtha to the king replied
That all was well on every side,
That fire, and vows, and pupils throve,
And all the trees within the grove.
And then the son of Brahmá, best
Of all who pray with voice suppressed,
Questioned with pleasant words like these
The mighty king who sate at ease:
'And is it well with thee? I pray;
And dost thou win by virtuous sway
Thy people's love, discharging all
The duties on a king that fall?
Are all thy servants fostered well?
Do all obey, and none rebel?
Hast thou, destroyer of the foe,
No enemies to overthrow?
Does fortune, conqueror! still attend
Thy treasure, host, and every friend!
Is it all well? Does happy fate
On sons and children's children wait!'

   He spoke. The modest king replied
That all was prosperous far and wide.

Thus for awhile the two conversed,
As each to each his tale rehearsed,
And as the happy moments flew,
Their joy and friendship stronger grew.
When such discourse had reached an end,
Thus spoke the saint most reverend
To royal Vis'vamitra, while
His features brightened with a smile:
'O mighty lord of men. I fain
Would banquet thee and all thy train
In mode that suits thy station high:
And do not thou my prayer deny.
Let my good lord with favour take
The offering that I fain would make,
And let me honour, ere we part.
My royal guest with loving heart.'

Him Vis'vámitra thus addressed:
'Why make, O Saint, this new request?
Thy welcome and each gracious word
Sufficient honour have conferred.
Thou gavest roots and fruit to eat,
The treasures of this pure retreat,
And water for my mouth and feet;
And--boon I prize above the rest--
Thy presence has mine eyesight blest.
Honoured by thee in every way,
To whom all honour all should pay,
I now will go. My lord, Good-bye!
Regard me with a friendly eye.'

Him speaking thus Vas'ishtha stayed,
And still to share his banquet prayed.
The will of Gádhi's son he bent,
And won the monarch to consent,
Who spoke in answer. 'Let it be,
Great Hermit, as it pleases thee.'
When, best of those who breathe the prayer,
He heard the king his will declare,
He called the cow of spotted skin,
All spot without, all pure within.
'Come, Dapple-skin,' he cried, 'with speed;
Hear thou my words and help at need.
My heart is set to entertain
This monarch and his mighty train
With sumptuous meal and worthy fare;
Be thine the banquet to prepare.
Each dainty cute, each goodly dish,
Of six-fold taste [1] as each may wish--
All these, O cow of heavenly power,
Rain down for me in copious shower:
Viands and drink for tooth and lip,
To eat, to suck, to quaff, to sip--
Of these sufficient, and to spare,
O plenty-giving cow, prepare.'


  1. Sweet, salt, pungent, bitter, acid, and astringent.