The Ramayana/Book I/Canto V: Ayodhyá

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto V: Ayodhyá


'Ikshváku's sons from days of old
Were ever brave and mighty-souled.
The land their arms had made their own
Was bounded by the sea alone.
Their holy works have won them praise,
Through countless years, from Manu's days.
Their ancient sire was Sagar, he
Whose high command dug out the sea:[1]
With sixty thousand sons to throng
Around him as he marched along.
From them this glorious tale proceeds;
The great Rámáyan tells their deeds.
This noble song whose lines contain,
Lessons of duty, love, and gain,
We two will now at length recite,
While good men listen with delight.

   
On Sarjú's[2] bank, of ample size,

The happy realm of Kos'al lies,
With fertile length of fair champaign
And flocks and herds and wealth of grain.
There, famous in her old renown,
Ayodhyá[3] stands, the royal town,
In bygone ages built and planned

By sainted Manu's[4] princely hand.

Imperial seat! her walls extend
Twelve measured leagues from end to end,
And three in width from side to side,
With square and palace beautified.
Her gates at even distance stand;
Her ample roads are wisely planned.
Right glorious is her royal street
Where streams allay the dust and heat.
On level ground in even row
Her houses rise in goodly show:
Terrace and palace, arch and gate
The queenly city decorate.
High are her ramparts, strong and vast,
By ways at even distance passed,
With circling moat, both deep and wide,
And store of weapons fortified.

King Das'aratha, lofty-souled,
That city guarded and controlled,
With towering Sál trees belted round,[5]
And many a grove and pleasure ground,
As royal Indra, throned on high,
Rules his fair city in the sky.[6]
She seems a painted city, fair
With chess-board line and even square.[7]
And cool boughs shade the lovely lake

Where weary men their thirst may slake.
There gilded chariots gleam and shine,
And stately piles the Gods enshrine.
There gay sleek people ever throng
To festival and dance and song.
A mine is she of gems and sheen,
The darling home of Fortune's Queen.
With noblest sort of drink and meat,
The fairest rice and golden wheat,
And fragrant with the chaplet's scent
With holy oil and incense blent.
With many an elephant and steed,
And wains for draught and cars for speed.
With envoys sent by distant kings,
And merchants with their precious things,
With banners o'er her roofs that play,
And weapons that a hundred slay;[8]
All warlike engines framed by man,
And every class of artisan.
A city rich beyond compare
With bards and minstrels gathered there,
And men and damsels who entrance
The soul with play and song and dance.
In every street is heard the lute,
The drum, the tabret, and the flute,
The Veda chanted soft and low,
The ringing of the archer's bow;
With bands of godlike heroes skilled
In every warlike weapon, filled,
And kept by warriors from the foe,
As Nágas guard their home below.[9]
There wisest Bráhmans evermore
   The flame of worship feed,
And versed in all the Vedas' lore,
   Their lives of virtue lead.
Truthful and pure, they freely give;
   They keep each sense controlled,
And in their holy fervour live
   Like the great saints of old.


  1. This exploit is related in Canto XI.
  2. The Sarjú or Ghaghra, anciently called Sarayú, rises in the Himalayas, and after flowing through the province of Oudb, falls into the Gauges.
  3. The ruins of the ancient capital of Rama and the Children of the Sun may still be traced in the present Ajudhyá near Fyzabad. Ajudhyá is the Jerusalem or Mecca of the Hindus.
  4. A legislator and saint, the son of Brahmá or a personification of Brahmá himself, the creator of the world, and progenitor of mankind. Derived from the root man to think, the word means originally man, the thinker, and is found in this sense in the Rig-veda.
    Manu as a legislator is identified with the Cretan Minos, as progenitor of mankind with the German Mannus: 'Celebrant carminibus antiquis, quod unum apud illos memoriae et annalium genus est, Tuisconem deum terra editum, et fllium Mannum, originem gentis conditoresque.' TACITUS, Germania, Cap. II.
  5. The Sál (Shorea Robusta) is a valuable timber tree of considerable height.
  6. The city of Indra is called Amarávati or Home of the Immortals.
  7. Schlegel thinks that this refers to the marble of different colours with which the houses were adorned. It seems more natural to understand it as implying the regularity of the streets and houses.
  8. The Sataghní, i. e. centicide, or slayer of a hundred, is generally supposed to be a sort of fire-arms, or the ancient Indian rocket; but it is also described as a stone set round with iron spikes.
  9. The Nágas (serpents) are demigods with a human face and serpent body. They inhabit Pátála or the regions under the earth. Bhogavatí is the name of their capital city. Serpents are still worshipped in India. See Fergusson'a Tree and Serpent Worship.