The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XVII: Rishyas'ring's Return
|← Canto XVI: The Vánars|| The Ramayana of Valmiki by , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XVII: Rishyas'ring's Return
|Canto XVIII: Rishyas'ring's Departure→|
Now when the high-souled monarch's rite,
The As'vamedh, was finished quite,
Their sacrificial dues obtained,
The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
The lofty-minded saints withdrew,
Each to his place, with honour due,
And kings and chieftains, one and all,
Who came to grace the festival.
And Das'aratha, ere they went,
Addressed them thus benevolent:
'Now may you, each with joyful heart,
To your own realms, O Kings, depart.
Peace and good luck attend you there,
And blessing, is my friendly prayer;
Let cares of state each mind engage
To guard his royal heritage.
A monarch from his throne expelled
No better than the dead is held.
So he who cares for power and might
Must guard his realm and royal right.
Such care a meed in heaven will bring
Better than rites and offering.
Such care a king his country owes
As man upon himself bestows,
When for his body he provides
Raiment and every need besides.
For future days should kings foresee,
And keep the present error-free.
Thus did the king the kings exhort:
They heard, and turned them from the court
And, each to each in friendship bound,
Went forth to all the realms around.
The rites were o'er, the guests were sped:
The train the best of Bráhmans led,
In which the king with joyful soul,
With his dear wives, and with the whole
Of his imperial host and train
Of cars and servants turned again,
And, as a monarch dear to fame,
Within his royal city came.
Next, Rishyas'ring, well-honoured sage,
And S'ántá, sought their hermitage.
The king himself, of prudent mind,
Attended him, with troops behind.
And all her men the town outpoured
With Saint Vas'ishtha and their lord.
High mounted on a car of state,
O'ercanopied fair S'ántá sate,
Drawn by white oxen, while a band
Of servants marched on either hand.
Great gifts of countless price she bore,
With sheep and goats and gems in shore.
Like Beauty's self the lady shone
With all the jewels she had on,
As, happy in her sweet content.
Peerless amid the fair she went.
Not Queen Paulomí's self could be
More loving to her lord than she.
She who had lived in happy ease,
Honoured with all her heart could please,
While dames and kinsfolk ever vied
To see her wishes gratified,
Soon as she knew her husband's will
Again to seek the forest, still
Was ready for the hermit's cot,
Nor murmured at her altered lot.
The king attended to the wild
That hermit and his own dear child,
And in the centre of a throng
Of noble courtiers rode along.
The sage's son had let prepare
A lodge within the wood, and there
While they lingered blithe and gay.
Then, duly honoured, went their way.
The glorious hermit Rishyas'ring
Drew near and thus besought the king:
'Return, my honoured lord, I pray,
Return, upon thy homeward way.'
The monarch, with the waiting crowd,
Lifted his voice and wept aloud,
And with eyes dripping still to each
Of his good queens he spake this speech:
'Kaus'alyá and Sumitrá dear,
And thou, my sweet Kaikeyí, hear.
All upon S'ántá feast your gaze,
The last time for a length of days.'
To S'ántá's arms the ladies leapt,
And hung about her neck and wept,
And cried, '0, happy be the life
Of this great Bráhman and his wife.
The Wind, the Fire, the Moon on high.
The Earth, the Streams, the circling sky,
Preserve thee in the wood, true spouse,
Devoted to thy husband's vows.
And O dear S'ántá, ne'er neglect
To pay the dues of meek respect
To the great saint, thy husband's sire,
With all observance and with fire.
And, sweet one, pure of spot and blame,
Forget not thou thy husband's claim;
In every change, in good and ill,
Let thy sweet words delight him still,
And let thy worship constant be:
Her lord is woman's deity.
To learn thy welfare, dearest friend,
The king will many a Bráhman send.
Let happy thoughts thy spirit cheer.
And be not troubled, daughter dear.'
These soothing words the ladies said.
And pressed their lips upon her head.
Each gave with sighs her last adieu,
Then at the king's command withdrew.
The king around the hermit went
With circling footsteps reverent,
And placed at Rishyas'ring's command
Some soldiers of his royal band.
The Bráhman bowed in turn and cried,
'May fortune never leave thy side.
O mighty King, with justice reign,
And still thy people's love retain.'
He spoke, and turned away his face,
And, as the hermit went,
The monarch, rooted to the place,
Pursued with eyes intent.
But when the sage had past from view
King Das'aratha turned him too,
Still fixing on his friend each thought.
With such deep love his breast was fraught.
Amid his people's loud acclaim
Home to his royal seat he came,
And lived delighted there,
Expecting when each queenly dame,
Upholder of his ancient fame,
Her promised son should bear.
The glorious sage his way pursued
Till close before his eyes he viewed
Sweet Champá, Lomapád's fair town,
Wreathed with her Champacs' leafy crown.
Soon as the saint's approach he knew,
The king, to yield him honour due,
Went forth to meet him with a band
Of priests and nobles of the land:
'Hail, Sage,' he cried, 'O joy to me!
What bliss it is, my lord, to see
Thee with thy wife and all thy train
Returning to my town again.
Thy father, honoured Sage, is well,
Who hither from his woodland cell
Has sent full many a messenger
For tidings both of thee and her.'
Then joyfully, for due respect,
The monarch bade the town be decked.
The king and Rishyas'ring elate
Entered the royal city's gate:
In front the chaplain rode.
Then, loved and honoured with all care
By monarch and by courtier, there
The glorious saint abode.
- The consort of Ladra, called also S'achí and Indrání.
- The Michelia champaca. It bears a scented yellow blossom:
'The maid of India blest again to hold
In her full lap the Champac's leaves of gold.'