The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XI: The Sacrifice Decreed

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XI: The Sacrifice Decreed

The Dewy Season [1]came and went;
   The spring returned again:
Then would the king, with mind intent,
   His sacrifice ordain.


He came to Rishyas'ring, and bowed
   To him of look divine,
And bade him aid his offering vowed
   For heirs, to save his line.
Nor would the youth his aid deny:
   He spake the monarch fair,
And prayed him for that rite so high
   All requisites prepare.
The king to wise Sumantra cried
   Who stood aye ready near;
'Go summon quick each holy guide,
   To counsel and to hear.'
Obedient to his lord's behest
   Away Sumantra sped,
And brought Vas'ishtha and the rest,
In Scripture deeply read.
Suyajna, Vámadeva came,
   Jávali, Kas'yap's son,
And old Vas'ishtha, dear to fame,
   Obedient every one.
King Das'aratha met them there
   And duly honoured each,
And spoke in pleasant words his fair
   And salutary speech:
'In childless longing doomed to pine,
No happiness, O lords, is mine.
So have I for this cause decreed
To slay the sacrificial steed.
Fain would I pay that offering high
Wherein the horse is doomed to die,
With Rishyas'ring his aid to lend,
And with your glory to befriend.'

With loud applause each holy man
Received his speech, approved the plan,
And, by the wise Vas'ishtha led,
Gave praises to the king, and said:
'The sons thou cravest shalt thou see,
Of fairest glory, born to thee,
Whose holy feelings bid thee take
This righteous course for offspring's sake.'
Cheered by the ready praise of those
Whose aid he sought, his spirits rose,
And thus the king his speech renewed
With looks of joy and gratitude:
'Let what the coming rites require
Be ready as the priests desire,
And let the horse, ordained to bleed,
With fitting guard and priest, be freed, [2]
Yonder on Sarjú's northern side
The sacrificial ground provide;
And let the saving rites, that naught
Ill-omened may occur, be wrought.
The offering I announce to-day
Each lord of earth may claim to pay,
Provided that his care can guard

the holy rite by flaws unmarred.
For wandering fiends, whose watchful spite
Waits eagerly to spoil each rite,
Hunting with keenest eye detect
The slightest slip, the least neglect;
And when the sacred work is crossed
The workman is that moment lost.
Let preparation due be made:
   Your powers the charge can meet:
That so the noble rite be paid
   In every point complete.'
And all the Bráhmans answered, Yea,
   His mandate honouring,
And gladly promised to obey
   The order of the king.
They cried with voices raised aloud:
   'Success attend thine aim!'
Then bade farewell, and lowly bowed,
   And hastened whence they came.
King Das'aratha went within,
   His well loved wives to see:
And said: 'Your lustral rites begin,
   For these shall prosper me.
A glorious offering I prepare
That precious fruit of sons may bear.'
Their lily faces brightened fast
Those pleasant words to hear,
As lilies, when the winter's past,
In lovelier hues appear.


  1. The Hindu year is divided into six seasons of two months each, spring, summer, rains, autumn, winter, and dews.
  2. It was essential that the horse should wander free for a year before immolation as a sign that his masters paramount sovereignty was acknowledged by all neighbouring princes.