The Ramayana/Book I/Canto VI: The King

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


There reigned a king of name revered,
To country and to town endeared,
Great Das'aratha, good and sage.
Well read in Scripture's holy page:
Upon his kingdom's weal intent,
Mighty and brave and provident;
The pride of old Ikshváku's seed
For lofty thought and righteous deed.
Peer of the saints, for virtues famed,
For foes subdued and passions tamed:
A rival in his wealth untold
Of Indra and the Lord of Gold.
Like Manu first of kings, he reigned.
And worthily his state maintained,
For firm and just and ever true
Love, duty, gain he kept in view,
And ruled his city rich and free,
Like Indra's Amarávatí.
And worthy of so fair a place
There dwelt a just and happy race
   With troops of children blest.
Each man contented sought no more,
Nor longed with envy for the store
   By richer friends possessed.
For poverty was there unknown,
And each man counted as his own
   Kine, steeds, and gold, and grain.
All dressed in raiment bright and clean,
And every townsman might be seen
With earrings, wreath, or chain.
None deigned to feed on broken fare,
And none was false or stingy there.
A piece of gold, the smallest pay,
Was earned by labour for a day.
On every arm were bracelets worn,
And none was faithless or forsworn,
   A braggart or unkind.
None lived upon another's wealth,
None pined with dread or broken health,
   Or dark disease of mind.
High-souled were all. The slanderous word,
The boastful lie, were never heard.
Each man was constant to his vows,
And lived devoted to his spouse.
No other love his fancy knew,
And she was tender, kind, and true.
Her dames were fair of form and face,
With charm of wit and gentle grace,
With modest raiment simply neat,
And winning manners soft and sweet.
The twice-born sages, whose delight
Was Scripture's page and holy rite,
Their calm and settled course pursued,
Nor sought the menial multitude.
In many a Scripture each was versed,
And each the flame of worship nursed,
   And gave with lavish hand.
Each paid to Heaven the offerings due,
And none was godless or untrue
   In all that holy band.
To Bráhmans, as the laws ordain,
The Warrior caste were ever fain
   The reverence due to pay;
And these the Vais'yas' peaceful crowd,
Who trade and toil for gain, were proud

   To honour and obey;
And all were by the S'údras[1] served,
Who never from their duty swerved,
Their proper worship all addressed
To Bráhman, spirits, God, and guest.
Pure and unmixt their rites remained,
Their race's honour ne'er was stained.[2]
Cheered by his grandsons, sons, and wife,
Each passed a long and happy life.
Thus was that famous city held
By one who all his race excelled,
   Blest in his gentle reign,
As the whole land aforetime swayed
By Manu, prince of men, obeyed
   Her king from main to main.
And heroes kept her, strong and brave,
As lions guard their mountain cave:
Fierce as devouring flame they burned,
And fought till death, but never turned.
Horses had she of noblest breed,
Like Indra's for their form and speed,
From Váhlí's[3] hills and Sindhu's[4] sand,
Vanáyu[5] and Kámboja's land.[6]
Her noble elephants had strayed
Through Vindhyan and Himálayan shade,
Gigantic in their bulk and height,
Yet gentle in their matchless might.
They rivalled well the world-spread fame
Of the great stock from which they came,
   Of Váman, vast of size,
Of Mahápadma's glorious line,
Thine, Aujan, and, Airávat, thine.[7]
   Upholders of the skies.
With those, enrolled in fourfold class,
Who all their mighty kin surpass,
Whom men Matangas name,
And Mrigas spotted black and white,
And Bhadras of unwearied might,
And Mandras hard to tame.[8]
Thus, worthy of the name she bore,[9]
Ayodhyá for a league or more
   Cast a bright glory round,
Where Das'aratha wise and great
Governed his fair ancestral state,
   With every virtue crowned.
Like Indra in the skies he reigned
In that, good town whose wall contained
   High domes and turrets proud,
With gates and arcs of triumph decked,
And sturdy barriers to protect
   Her gay and countless crowd.


  1. The fourth and lowest pure caste whose duty was to serve the three first classes.
  2. By forbidden marriages between persons of different castes.
  3. Váhlí or Váhlika is Bactriana; its name is preserved in the modern Balkh.
  4. The Sanskrit word Sindhu is in the singular the name of the river Indus, in the plural of the people and territories on its banks. The name appears as Hidhu in the cuneiform inscription of Darius son of Hystaspes, in which the nations tributary to that king are enumerated.
    The Hebrew form is Hodda (Esther, 1. I.) In Zend it appears as Hendu in a somewhat wider sense. With the Persians later the signification of Hind seems to have co-extended with their increasing acquaintance with the country. The weak Ionic dialect omitted the Persian h, and we find in Hecatæus and Herodotus Indos and hae Indikae. In this form the Romans received the names and transmitted them to us. The Arabian geographers in their ignorance that Hind and Sind are two forms of the same word have made of them two brothers and traced their decent from Noah. See Lassen's Indische Alterthumskunde Vol. I. pp. 2, 3.
  5. The situation of Vanáyu is not exactly determined: it seems to have lain to the north-west of India.
  6. 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.
  7. The elephants of Indra and other deities who preside over the four points of the compass.
  8. There are four kinds of elephants. 1 Bhaddar. It is well proportioned, has an erect head, a broad chest, large ears, a long tail, and is bold and can bear fatigue. 2 Mand. It is black, has yellow eyes, a uniformly sized body, and is wild and ungovernable. 3 Mirg. It has a whitish skin, with black spots. 4 Mir. It has a small head, and obeys readily. It gets frightened when it thunders.' Ain-i-Ahbarí * . Translated by H. Blochmann, Ain 41, The Imperial Elephant Stables.
  9. Ayodhyá means not to be fought against.