The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LIII: Vis'vàmitra's Request

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LIII: Vis'vàmitra's Request

Thus charged, O slayer of thy foes,
The cow from whom all plenty flows,
Obedient to her saintly lord,
Viands to suit each taste, outpoured.
Honey she gave, and roasted grain,
Mead sweet with flowers, and sugar-cane.
Each beverage of flavour rare,
And food of every sort, were there:
Hills of hot rice, and sweetened cakes,
And curdled milk and soup in lakes.
Vast beakers foaming to the brim
With sugared drink prepared for him,
And dainty sweetmeats, deftly made,
Before the hermit's guests were laid.
So well regaled, so nobly fed,
The mighty army banqueted,
And all the train, from chief to least,
Delighted in Vas'ishtha's feast.
Then Vis'vámitra, royal sage,
Surrounded by his vassalage,
Prince, peer, and counsellor, and all
From highest lord to lowest thrall,
Thus feasted, to Vas'ishtha cried
With joy, supremely gratified:
'Richh honour I, thus entertained,
Most honourable lord, have gained:
Now hear, before I journey hence,
My words, O skilled in eloquence.
Bought for a hundred thousand kine,
Let Dapple-skin. O Saint, be mine.
A wondrous jewel is thy cow,
And gems are for the monarch's brow. [1]
To me her rightful lord resign
This Dapple-skin thou callest thine.'

The great Vas'ishtha, thus addressed,
Arch-hermit of the holy breast,
To Vis'vamitra answer made,
The king whom all the land obeyed:
Not for a hundred thousand,--nay,
Not if ten million thou wouldst pay,
With silver heaps the price to swell,--
Will I my cow, O Monarch, sell.
Unmeet for her is such a fate.
That I my friend should alienate.
As glory with the virtuous, she
For ever makes her home with me.
On her mine offerings which ascend
To Gods and spirits all depend:
My very life is due to her,
My guardian, friend, and minister.

The feeding of the sacred flame, [2]
The dole which living creatures claim. [3]
The mighty sacrifice by fire,
Each formula the rites require, [4]
And various saving lore beside,
Are by her aid, in sooth, supplied.
The banquet which thy host has shared,
Believe it, was by her prepared.
In her mine only treasures lie,
She cheers mine heart and charms mine eye.
And reasons more could I assign
Why Dapple-skin can ne'er be thine.'

The royal sage, his suit denied,
With eloquence more earnest cried:
'Tusked elephants, a goodly train,
Each with a golden girth and chain.
Whose goads with gold well fashioned shine--
Of these be twice seven thousand thine.
And four-horse cars with gold made bright,
With steeds most beautifully white,
Whose bells make music as they go,
Eight hundred, Saint, will I bestow.
Eleven thousand mettled steeds
From famous lands, of noble breeds--
These will I gladly give, O thou
Devoted to each holy vow.
Ten million heifers, fair to view,
Whose sides are marked with every hue--
These in exchange will I assign;
But let thy Dapple-skin be mine.
Ask what thou wilt, and piles untold
Of priceless gems and gleaming gold,
O best of Bráhmans, shall be thine;
But let thy Dapple-skin be mine.'

The great Vas'ishtha, thus addressed.
Made answer to the king's request:
'Ne'er will I give my cow away,
My gem, my wealth, my life and stay.
My worship at the moon's first show,
And at the full, to her I owe;
And sacrifices small and great,
Which largess due and gifts await.
From her alone, their root, O King,

My rites and holy service spring.
What boots it further words to say?
I will not give my cow away
Who yields me what I ask each day.'


  1. 'Of old hoards and minerals in the earth, the king is entitled to half by reason of his general protection, and because he is the lord paramount of the soil.'

                                  MANU, Book VIII. 39.
  2. Ghí or clarified butter, 'holy oil,' being one of the essentials of sacrifice.
  3. A Brahman had five principal duties to discharge every day: study and teaching the Veda, oblations to the manes or spirits of the departed, sacrifice to the Gods, hospitable offerings to men, and a gift of food to all creatures. The last consisted of rice or other grain which the Bráhman was to offer every day outside his house in the open air. MANU, Book III. 70.' GORRESIO.
  4. These were certain sacred words of invocation such a sváhá, vashat, etc., pronounced at the time of sacrifice.