The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LIX: The Sons of Vas'ishtha

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LIX: The Sons of Vas'ishtha

Then Kus'ik's son, by pity warmed,
Spoke sweetly to the king transformed:
'Hail! glory of Ikshváku's line:
I know how bright thy virtues shine.
Dismiss thy fear, O noblest Chief,
For I myself will bring relief.
The holiest saints will I invite
To celebrate thy purposed rite:
So shall thy vow, O King, succeed,
And from thy cares shalt thou be freed.
Thou in the form which now thou hast,
Transfigured by the curse they cast,--
Yea, in the body, King, shalt flee,
Transported, where thou fain wouldst be.
O Lord of men, I ween that thou
Hast heaven within thy hand e'en now,
For very wisely hast thou done,
And refuge sought with Kus'ik's son.'

Thus having said, the sage addressed
His sons, of men the holiest,
And bade the prudent saints whate'er
Was needed for the rite prepare.
The pupils he was wont to teach
He summoned next, and spoke this speech:
'Go bid Vas'ishtha'a sons appear,
And all the saints be gathered here.
And what they one and all reply
When summoned by this mandate high,
To me with faithful care report,
Omit no word and none distort.'

The pupils heard, and prompt obeyed,
To every side their way they made.
Then swift from every quarter sped
The sages in the Vedas read.
Back to that saint the envoys came,
Whose glory shone like burning flame,
And told him in their faithful speech
The answer that they bore from each:
'Submissive to thy word, O Seer,
The holy men are gathering here.
By all was meet obedience shown:
Mahodaya [1] refused alone.

And now, O Chief of hermits, hear
What answer, chilling us with fear,
Vas'ishtha's hundred sons returned,
Thick-speaking as with rage they burned:
'How will the Gods and saints partake
The offerings that the prince would make,
And he a vile and outcast thing,
His ministrant one born a king?
Can we, great Bráhmans, eat his food,
And think to win beatitude,
By Vis'vámitra purified?'
Thus sire and sons in scorn replied,
And as these bitter words they said,
Wild fury made their eyeballs red.

Their answer when the arch-hermit heard,
His tranquil eyes with rage were blurred;
Great fury in his bosom woke,
And thus unto the youths he spoke:
'Me, blameless me they dare to blame,
And disallow the righteous claim
My fierce austerities have earned:
To ashes be the sinners turned.
Caught in the noose of Fate shall they
To Yama's kingdom sink to-day.
Seven hundred times shall they be born
To wear the clothes the dead have worn.
Dregs of the dregs, too vile to hate.
The flesh of dogs their maws shall sate.
In hideous form, in loathsome weed,
A sad existence each shall lead.
Mahodaya too, the fool who fain
My stainless life would try to stain,
Stained in the world with long disgrace
Shall sink into a fowler's place.
Rejoicing guiltless blood to spill,
No pity through his breast shall thrill.
Cursed by my wrath for many a day,
His wretched life for sin shall pay.'

Thus, girt with hermit, saint, and priest,
Great Vis'vámitra spoke--and ceased.


  1. This appellation, occuring nowhere else in the poem except as the name of a city, appears twice in this Canto as a name of Vas'ishtha.