The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LIV: The Battle

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LIV: The Battle

As Saint Vas'ishtha answered so,
Nor let the cow of plenty go,
The monarch, as a last resource,
Began to drag her off by force.
While the king's servants tore away
Their moaning, miserable prey,
Sad, sick at heart, and sore distressed,
She pondered thus within her breast:
'Why am I thus forsaken? why
Betrayed by him of soul most high.
Vas'ishtha, ravished by the hands
Of soldiers of the monarch's bands?
Ah me! what evil have I done
Against the lofty-minded one,
That he, so pious, can expose
The innocent whose love he knows?'
In her sad breast as thus she thought,
And heaved deep sighs with anguish fraught,
With wondrous speed away she fled,
And back to Saint Vas'ishtha sped.
She hurled by hundreds to the ground
The menial crew that hemmed her round,
And flying swifter than the blast
Before the saint herself she cast.
There Dapple-skin before the saint
Stood moaning forth her sad complaint,
And wept and lowed: such tones as come
From wandering cloud or distant drum.
'O son of Brahmá,' thus cried she,
'Why hast thou thus forsaken me,
That the king's men, before thy face,
Bear off thy servant from her place?'

Then thus the Bráhman saint replied
To her whose heart with woe was tried,
And grieving for his favourite's sake.
As to a suffering sister spake:
'I leave thee not: dismiss the thought;
Nor, duteous, hast thou failed in aught.
This king, o'erweening in the pride
Of power, has reft thee from my side.
Little, I ween, my strength could do
'Gainst him, a mighty warrior too,
Strong, as a soldier born and bred,--
Great, as a king whom regions dread.
See! what a host the conqueror leads,
With elephants, and cars, and steeds.
O'er countless bands his pennons fly;
So is he mightier far than I,'

He spoke. Then she, in lowly mood,
To that high saint her speech renewed:
'So judge not they who wisest are:
The Brahman's might is mightier far.
For Brahmans strength from Heaven derive,
And warriors bow when Bráhmans strive.
A boundless power 'tis thine to wield:
To such a king thou shouldst not yield,
Who, very mighty though he be,--
So fierce thy strength,--must bow to thee.
Command me, Saint. Thy power divine
Has brought me here and made me thine;
And I, howe'er the tyrant boast,
Will tame his pride and slay his host.'
Then cried the glorious sage: 'Create
A mighty force the foe to mate,'

She lowed, and quickened into life,
Pahlavas, [1] burning for the strife,
King Vis'vámitra's army slew
Before the very leader's view.
The monarch in excessive ire,
His eyes with fury darting fire,
Rained every missile on the foe
Till all the Pahlavas were low.
She, seeing all her champions slain,
Lying by thousands on the plain.
Created, by her mere desire,
Yavans and S'akas, fierce and dire.
And all the ground was overspread
With Yavans and with S'akas dread:
A host of warriors bright and strong,
And numberless in closest throng:
The threads within the lotus stem,
So densely packed, might equal them.
In gold-hued mail 'gainst war's attacks,
Each bore a sword and battle-axe.
The royal host, where'er these came,
Fell as if burnt with ravening flame.

The monarch, famous through the world
Again his fearful weapons hurled,

That made Kámbojas, [2] Barbars, [3] all,
With Yavans, troubled, flee and fall.


  1. It is well known that the Persians were called Pahlavas by the Indians. The S'akas are nomad tribes inhabiting Central Asia, the Scythes of the Greeks, whom the Persians also, as Herodotus tells us, called S'akas just as the Indians did. Lib. VII 64 οἱ γὰρ Πέρσαι πάντας τοὺς Σκύθας, καλέουσι Σάκας. The name Yavana seems to be used rather indefinitely for nations situated beyond Persia to the west.... After the time of Alexander the Great the Indians as well as the Persians called the Greeks also Yavans.' SCHLEGEL.

    Lassen thinks that the Pahlavas were the same people as the Πάκτυες of Herodotus, and that this non-Indian people, dwelt on the north-west confines of India.
  2. Kámboja was probably still further to the north-west. Lassen thinks that the p. 14 name is etymologically connected with Cambyses which in the cuneiform inscription of Behistun is written Ka(m)bujia.
  3. Barbarians, non-Sanskrit-speaking tribes.