The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XIX: The Birth of The Princes

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The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XIX: The Birth of The Princes

The seasons six in rapid flight
Had circled since that glorious rite.
Eleven months had passed away:
'Twas Chaitra's ninth returning day. [1]
The moon within that mansion shone
Which Aditi looks kindly on.
Raised to their apex in the sky
Five brilliant planets beamed on high.
Shone with the moon, in Cancer's sign.
Vrihaspati [2]with light divine.
Kaus'alyá bore an infant blest
With heavenly marks of grace impressed;
Ráma, the universe's lord,
A prince by all the worlds adored.
New glory Queen Kaus'alyá won
Reflected from her splendid son.
So Aditi shone more and more,
The Mother of the Gods, when she
The King of the Immortals [3]bore,
The thunder-wielding deity.

The lotus-eyed, the beauteous boy,
He came fierce Rávan to destroy;
From half of Vishnu's vigour born,
He came to help the worlds forlorn.
And Queen Kaikeyí bore a child
Of truest valour, Bharat styled,
With every princely virtue blest,
One fourth of Vishnu manifest.
Sumitrá too a noble pair,
Called Lakshman and S'atrughna, bare,
Of high emprise, devoted, true,
Sharers in Vishnu's essence too.
'Neath Pushya's [4]mansion, Mína's [5]sign,
Was Bharat born, of soul benign.
The sun had reached the Crab at morn
When Queen Sumitrá's babes were born,
What time the moon had gone to make
His nightly dwelling with the Snake.
The high-souled monarch's consorts bore
At different times those glorious four,
Like to himself and virtuous, bright
As Proshthapadá's [6]four-fold light.
Then danced the nymphs' celestial throng,
  The minstrels raised their strain;
The drums of heaven pealed loud and long,
And dowers came down in rain.
Within Ayodhyá, blithe and gay,
All kept the joyous holiday.
The spacious square, the ample road
With mimes and dancers overflowed,
And with the voice of music rang
Where minstrels played and singers sang,
And shone, a wonder to behold,
With dazzling show of gems and gold,
Nor did the king his largess spare,
For minstrel, driver, bard, to share;
Much wealth the Bráhmans bore away,
And many thousand dine that day.

Soon as each babe was twelve days old
'Twas time the naming rite to hold.
When Saint Vas'ishtha, rapt with joy,
Assigned a name to every boy.
Ráma, to him the high-souled heir,
Bharat, to him Kaikeyí bare:
Of Queen Sumitrá one fair son
Was Lakshman, and S'atrughna [7]one.

Ráma,his sire's supreme delight,
Like some proud banner cheered his sight,
And to all creatures seemed to be
The self-existent deity.
All heroes, versed in holy lore,
To all mankind great love they bore.
Fair stores of wisdom all possessed,
With princely graces all were blest.
But mid those youths of high descent,
With lordly light preeminent.
Like the full moon unclouded, shone
Ráma, the world's dear paragon.
He best the elephant could guide. [8]
Urge the fleet car, the charger ride;
A master he of bowman's skill,
Joying to do his father's will.
The world's delight and darling, he
Loved Lakshman best from infancy;
And Lakshman, lord of lofty fate,
Upon his elder joyed to wait,
Striving his second self to please
With friendship's sweet observances.
His limbs the hero ne'er would rest
Unless the couch his brother pressed;
Except beloved Ráma shared
He could not taste the meal prepared.
When Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,
Sprang on his steed to urge the chase,
Behind him Lakshman loved to go
And guard him with his trusty bow.
As Ráma was to Lakshman dear
More than his life and ever near,
So fond S'atrughna prized above
His very life his Bharat's love.
Illustrious heroes, nobly kind
In mutual love they all combined,
And gave their royal sire delight
With modest grace and warrior might:
Supported by the glorious four
Shone Das'aratha more and more,
As though, with every guardian,*God
Who keeps the land and skies,
The Father of all creatures trod
The earth before men's eyes.


  1. 'The poet no doubt intended to indicate the vernal equinox as the birthday of Ráma. For the month Chaitra is the first of the two months assigned to the spring; it corresponds with the latter half of March and the former half of April in our division of the year. Aditi, the mother of the Gods, is lady of the seventh lunar mansion which is called Punarvasu. The five planets and their positions in the Zodiac are thus enumerated by both commentators: the Sun in Aries, Mars in Capricorn, Saturn in Libra, Jupiter in Cancer, Venus in Pisces.... I leave to astronomers to examine whether the parts of the description agree with one another, and, if this be the case, thence to deduce the date. The Indians place the nativity of Ráma in the confines of the second age (tretá) and the third (dwápara): but it seems that this should be taken in an allegorical sense.... We may consider that the poet had an eye to the time in which, immediately before his own age, the aspects of the heavenly bodies were such as he has described.' SCHLEGEL.
  2. The regent of the planet Jupiter.
  3. Indra=Jupiter Tonans.
  4. 'Pushya is the name of a month; but here it means the eighth mansion. The ninth is called Aslesh, or the snake. It is evident from this that Bharat, though his birth is mentioned before that of the twins, was the youngest of the four brothers and Rama's junior by eleven months' SCHLEGEL.
  5. A fish, the Zodiacal sign Pisces.
  6. One of the constellations, containing stars in the wing of Pegasus.
  7. Ráma means the Delight (of the World); Bharat, the Supporter: Lakshman, the Auspicious; S'atrughna, Slayer of' Foes.
  8. Schlegel. in the Indische Bibliothek, remarks that the proficiency of the Indians in this art early attracted the attention of Alexander's successors, and natives of India were so long exclusively employed in this service that the name Indian was applied to any elephant-driver, to whatever country be might belong.