The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LXVI: Janak's Speech

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LXVI: Janak's Speech

With cloudless lustre rose the sun;
The king, his morning worship done,
Ordered hid heralds to invite
The princes and the anchorite.
With honour, as the laws decree,
The monarch entertained the three.
Then to the youths and saintly man
Videha's lord this speech began:
'O blameless Saint, most welcome thou!
If I may please thee tell me how.
Speak, mighty lord, whom all revere,
'Tis thine to order, mine to hear.'

Thus he on mighty thoughts intent;
Then thus the sage most eloquent:
'King Das'aratha's sons, this pair
Of warriors famous everywhere,
Are come that best of bows to see
That lies a treasure stored by thee.
This, mighty Janak, deign to show,
That they may look upon the bow,
And then, contented, homeward go.'
Then royal Janak spoke in turn:
'O best of Saints, the story learn
Why this famed bow, a noble prize,
A treasure in my palace lies.
A monarch, Devarát by name,
Who sixth from ancient Nimi came,
Held it as ruler of the land,
A pledge in his successive hand.
This bow the mighty Rudra bore

At Daksha's [1] sacrifice of yore,
When carnage of the Immortals stained
The rite that Daksha had ordained.
Then as the Gods sore wounded fled,
Victorious Rudra, mocking, said:
'Because, O Gods, ye gave me naught
When I my rightful portion sought,
Your dearest parts I will not spare,
But with my bow your frames will tear.'

The Sons of Heaven, in wild alarm,
Soft flatteries tried his rage to charm.
Then Bhava, Lord whom Gods adore,
Grew kind and friendly as before,
And every torn and mangled limb
Was safe and sound restored by him.
Thenceforth this bow, the gem of bows,
That freed the God of Gods from foes,
Stored by our great forefathers lay
A treasure and a pride for aye.
Once, as it chanced, I ploughed the ground,
When sudden, 'neath the share was found
An infant springing from the earth,
Named Sitá from her secret birth. [2]
In strength and grace the maiden grew,
My cherished daughter, fair to view.
I vowed her, of no mortal birth,
Meet prize for noblest hero's worth.
In strength and grace the maiden grew,
And many a monarch came to woo.
To all the princely suitors I
Gave, mighty Saint, the same reply:
'I give not thus my daughter, she
Prize of heroic worth shall be. [3]
To Mithilá the suitors pressed
Their power and might to manifest.
To all who came with hearts aglow
I offered S'iva's wondrous bow.

Not one of all the royal band
Could raise or take the bow in hand.
The suitors' puny might I spurned,
And back the feeble princes turned.
Enraged thereat, the warriors met,
With force combined my town beset.
Stung to the heart with scorn and shame,
With war and threats they madly came,
Besieged my peaceful walls, and long
To Mithilá did grievous wrong.
There, wasting all, a year they lay,
And brought my treasures to decay,
Filling my soul, O Hermit chief,
With bitter woe and hopeless grief.
At last by long-wrought penance I
Won favour with the Gods on high,
Who with my labours well content
A four-fold host to aid me sent.
Then swift the baffled heroes fled
To all the winds discomfited--
Wrong-doers, with their lords and host,
And all their valour's idle boast.
This heavenly bow, exceeding bright,
These youths shall see, O Anchorite.
Then if young Ráma's hand can string
The bow that baffled lord and king,
To him I give, as I have sworn,
My Sitá, not of woman born.'


  1. 'Daksha was one of the ancient Progenitors or Prajápatis created by Brahmá. The sacrifice which is here spoken of and in which S'ankar or S'iva (called also here Rudra and Bhava) smote the Gods because he had not been invited to share the sacred oblations with them, seems to refer to the origin of the worship of S'iva, to its increase and to the struggle it maintained with other older forms of worship.' GORRESIO.
  2. Sítá means a furrow.


             'Great Erectheus swayed,
       That owed his nurture to the blue-eyed maid,
       But from the teeming furrow took his birth,
       The mighty offspring of the foodful earth.'
                                              Iliad, Book II.
  3. 'The whole story of Sítá, as will be seen in the course of the poem has a great analogy with the ancient myth of Proserpine.' GORRESIO.