The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXII: Das'aratha's Speech

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The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XXII: Das'aratha's Speech

His tortured senses all astray,
Awhle the hapless monarch lay,
Then slowly gathering thought and strength
To Visvámitra spoke at length:
'My son is but a child, I ween;
This year he will be just sixteen.
How is he fit for such emprise,
My darling with the lotus eyes?
A mghty army will I bring
That calls me master, lord, and king,
And with its countless squadrons fight
Against these rovers of the night.
Mv faithful heroes skilled to wield
The arms of war will take the field;
Their skill the demons' might may break:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
I, even I, my bow in hand,
Will in the van of battle stand,
And, while my soul is left alive,
With the night-roaming demons strive.
Thy guarded sacrifice shall be
Completed, from all hindrance free.
Thither will I my journey make:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
A boy unskilled, he knows not yet
The bounds to strength and weakness set,
No match is he for demon foes
Who magic arts to arms oppose.

O chief of saints, I have no power,
Of Ráma reft, to live one hour:
Mine aged heart at once would break:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
Nine thousand circling years have fled
With all their seasons o'er my head,
And as a hard-won boon, O sage,
These sons have come to cheer mine age.
My dearest love amid the four
Is he whom first his mother bore,
Still dearer for his virtues' sake:
Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
But if, unmoved by all I say,
Thou needs must bear my son away,
Let me lead with him, I entreat,
A four-fold army [1]all complete.
What is the demons' might, O Sage?
Who are they? What their parentage?
What is their size? What beings lend
Their power to guard them and befriend?
How can my son their arts withstand?
Or I or all my armed band?
Tell me the whole that I may know
To meet in war each evil foe
Whom conscious might inspires with pride.'

And Vis'vámitra thus replied:
'Sprung from Pulastya's race there came
A giant known by Rávan's name.
Once favoured by the Eternal Sire
He plagues the worlds in ceaseless ire,
For peerless power and might renowned,
By giant bands encompassed round.
Vis'ravas for his sire they hold,
His brother is the Lord of Gold.
King of the giant hosts is he,
And worst of all in cruelty.
This Rávan's dread commands impel
Two demons who in might excel,
Maricha and Suváhu hight,
To trouble and impede the rite.'

Then thus the king addressed the sage:
'No power have I, my lord, to wage
War with this evil-minded foe;
Now pity on my darling show,
And upon me of hapless fate,
For thee as God I venerate.
Gods, spirits, bards of heavenly birth, [2]
The birds of air, the snakes of earth
Before the might of Rávan quail,
Much less, can mortal man avail.
He draws, I hear, from out the breast

The valour of the mightiest.
No, ne'er can I with him contend,
Or with the forces he may send.
How can I then my darling lend,
Godlike, unskilled in battle? No,
I will not let my young child go.
Foes of thy rite, those mighty ones,
Sunda and Upasunda's sons,
Are fierce as Fate to overthrow:
I will not let my young child go.
Maricha and Suváhu fell
Are valiant and instructed well.
One of the twain I might attack.
With all my friends their lord to back.'


  1. Consisting of horse, foot, chariots, and elephants.
  2. 'The Gandharvas, or heavenly bards, had originally a warlike character but were afterwards reduced to the office of celestial musicians cheering the banquets of the Gods. Dr. Kuhn has shown their identity with the Centaurs in name, origin and attributes.' GORRESIO.