The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXIV: The Spells

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The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XXIV: The Spells

Vas'ishtha thus was speaking still:
The monarch, of his own free will.
Bade with quick seal and joyful cheer
Ráma and Lakshman hasten near.
Mother and sire in loving care
Sped their dear son with rite and prayer:
Vas'ishtha blessed him ere he went;
O'er his loved head the father bent,
And then to Kus'ik's son resigned
Ráma with Lakshman close behind.
Standing by Vis'vámitra's side,
The youthful hero, lotus-eyed,
The Wind-God saw, and sent a breeze
Whose sweet pure touch just waved the trees.
There fell from heaven a flowery rain,
And with the song and dance the strain
Of shell and tambour sweetly blent
As forth the son of Raghu went.

The hermit led: behind him came
The bow-armed Ráma, dear to fame,
Whose locks were like the raven's wing; [1]
Then Lakshman, closely following.
The Gods and Indra, filled with joy,
Looked down upon the royal boy,
And much they longed the death to see
Of their ten-headed enemy. [2]
Ráma and Lakshman paced behind
That hermit of the lofty mind.
As the young As'vins, [3]heavenly pair,
Follow Lord Indra through the air.
On arm and hand the guard they wore,
Quiver and bow and sword they bore;
Two fire-born Gods of War seemed they. [4]
He, S'iva's self who led the way.

Upon fair Sarjú's southern shore
They now had walked a league and more,
When thus the sage in accents mild
To Ráma said: 'Beloved child,
This lustral water duly touch;
My counsel will avail thee much.
Forget not all the words I say,
Nor let the occasion slip away.
Lo, with two spells I thee invest,
The mighty and the mightiest.
O'er thee fatigue shall ne'er prevail,
Nor age or change thy limbs assail.
Thee powers of darkness ne'er shall smite
ln tranquil sleep or wild delight.
No one is there in all the land
Thine equal for the vigorous hand.

Thou, when thy lips pronounce the spell,
Shalt have no peer in heaven or hell,
None in the world with thee shall vie,
O sinless one, in apt reply,
In fortune, knowledge, wit, and tact,
Wisdom to plan and skill to act.
This double science take, and gain
Glory that shall for aye remain.
Wisdom and judgment spring from each
Of these fair spells whose use I teach.
Hunger and thirst unknown to thee,
High in the worlds thy rank shall be.
For these two spells with might endued,
Are the Great Father's heavenly brood,
And thee, O Chief, may fitly grace,
Thou glory of Kakutstha's race.
Virtues which none can match are thine,
Lord, from thy birth, of gifts divine,
And now these spells of might shall cast
Fresh radiance o'er the gifts thou hast.'
Then Ráma duly touched the wave,
   Raised suppliant hands, bowed low his head,
And took the spells the hermit gave
   Whose soul on contemplation fed.
From him whose might these gifts enhanced,
A brighter beam of glory glanced:
So shines in all his autumn blaze
The Day-God of the thousand rays.
The hermit's wants those youths supplied,
As pupils use to holy guide.
And then the night in sweet content
On Sarjú's pleasant bank they spent.


  1. Youths of the Kshatriya class used to leave unshorn the side locks of their hair. These were called Káka-paksha, or raven's wings.
  2. The Rákshas or giant Rávan, king ot Lanká.
  3. The meaning of As'vins (from as'va a horse, Persian asp, Greek ἵιππος, Latin equus, Welsh *eck, is Horsemen. They were twin deities of whom frequent mention is made in the Vedas and the Indian myths. The As'vins have much in common with the Dioscuri of Greece, and their mythical genealogy seems to indicate that their origin was astronomical. They were, perhaps, at first the morning star and evening star. They are said to be the children of the sun and the nymph As'viní, who is one of the lunar asterisms personified. In the popular mythology they are regarded as the physicians of the Gods. GORRESIO.
  4. The word Kumára, (a young prince, h Childe, is also a proper name of Skanda or Kártikeya God of War, the son of S'iva and Umá. The babe was matured in the fire. See Appendix, Kártikeii Generatio.