The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XX: Vis'vámitra's Visit

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The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XX: Vis'vámitra's Visit

Now Das'aratha's pious mind
Meet wedlock for his sons designed;

With priests and friends the king began
To counsel and prepare his plan.
Such thoughts engaged his bosom, when,
To see Ayodhyá's lord of men,
A mighty saint of glorious fame,
The hermit Vis'vámitra [1]came.
For evil fiends that roam by night
Disturbed him in each holy rite.
And in their strength and frantic rage
Assailed with witcheries the sage.
He came to seek the monarch's aid
To guard the rites the demons stayed,
Unable to a close to bring
One unpolluted offering.
Seeking the king in this dire strait
He said to those who kept the gate:
'Haste, warders, to your master run,
And say that here stands Gádhi's son.'

Soon as they heard the holy man,
To the king's chamber swift they ran
With minds disordered all, and spurred
To wildest zeal by what they heard.
On to the royal hall they sped,
There stood and lowly bowed the head,
And made the lord of men aware
That the great saint was waiting there.
   The king with priest and peer arose
     And ran the sage to meet,
   As Indra from his palace goes
     Lord Brahmá's self to greet.
When glowing with celestial light
The pious hermit was in sight,
The king, whose mien his transport showed,
The honoured gift for guests bestowed.
Nor did the saint that gift despise,
Offered as holy texts advise;
He kindly asked the earth's great king
How all with him was prospering.
The son of Kus'ik [2]bade him tell
If all in town and field were well,
All well with friends, and kith and kin,
And royal treasure stored within:
   'Do all thy neighbours own thy sway?
     Thy foes confess thee yet?
   Dost thou continue still to pay
     To Gods and men each debt?'
Then he of hermits first and best,
Vas'ishtha with a smile [3]addressed,

And asked him of his welfare too,
Showing him honour as was due.
Then with the sainted hermit all
Went joyous to the monarch's hall,
And sate them down by due degree,
Each one, of rank and dignity.
Joy filled the noble prince's breast
Who thus bespoke the honoured guest:
'As amrit [4]by a mortal found,
As rain upon the thirsty ground,
As to an heirless man a son
Born to him of his precious one,
As gain of what we sorely miss,
As sudden dawn of mighty bliss,
So is thy coming here to me:
All welcome, mighty Saint, to thee.
What wish within thy heart hast thou?
If I can please thee, tell me how.
Hail, Saint, from whom all honours flow,
Worthy of all I can bestow.
Blest is my birth with fruit to-day,
Nor has my life been thrown away.
I see the best of Bráhman race
And night to glorious morn gives place.
Thou, holy Sage, in days of old
Among the royal saints enrolled,
Didst, penance glorified, within
The Bráhman caste high station win.
'Tis meet and right in many a way
That I to thee should honour pay.
This seems a marvel to mine eyes:
All sin thy visit purifies;
And I by seeing thee, O Sage,
Have reaped the fruit of pilgrimage.
Then say what thou wouldst have me do,
That thou hast sought this interview.
Favoured by thee, my wish is still,
O Hermit, to perform thy will.
Nor needest thou at length explain
The object that thy heart would gain.
Without reserve I grant it now:
My deity, O Lord, art thou.'

The glorious hermit, far renowned,
With highest fame and virtue crowned,
Rejoiced these modest words to hear
Delightful to the mind and ear


  1. The story of this famous saint is given at sufficient length in Cantos LI-LV.

    This saint has given his name to the district and city to the east of Benares. The original name, preserved in a land- grant on copper now in the Museum of the Benares College, has been Moslemized into Ghazeepore (the City of the Soldier- martyr).
  2. The son of Kus'ik is Vis'vámitra.
  3. At the recollection of their former enmity, to be described hereafter.
  4. The Indian nectar or drink of the Gods.