The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXVI: The Forest of Tádaká

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The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XXVI: The Forest of Tádaká

When the fair light of morning rose
The princely turners of their foes
Followed, his morning worship o'er,
The hermit to the river's shore.
The high-souled men with thoughtful care
A pretty barge had stationed there.
All cried. 'O lord, this barge ascend,
And with thy princely followers bend
To yonder side thy prosperous way
With naught to check thee or delay.'

Nor did the saint their rede reject:
He bade farewell with due respect,
And crossed, attended by the twain,
That river rushing to the main.
When now the bark was half way o'er,
Ráma and Lakshman heard the roar,

That louder grew and louder yet,
Of waves by dashing waters met.
Then Ráma asked the mighty seer:
'What is the tumult that I hear
Of waters cleft in mid career?'
Soon as the speech of Ráma, stirred
By deep desire to know, he heard,
The pious saint began to tell
What paused the waters' roar and swell:
'On high Kailása's distant hill
   There lies a noble lake
Whose waters, born from Brahmá's will,
   The name of Mánas [1] take.
Thence, hallowing where'er they flow,
   The streams of Sarjú fall,
And wandering through the plains below
   Embrace Ayodhyá's wall.
Still, still preserved in Sarjú's name
   Sarovar's [2] fame we trace.
The flood of Brahma whence she came
   To run her holy race.
To meet great Gangá here she hies
   With tributary wave:
Hence the loud roar ye hear arise,
   Of floods that swell and rave.
Here, pride of Raghu's line, do thou
In humble adoration bow.'

He spoke. The princes both obeyed,
And reverence to each river paid. [3]
They reached the southern shore at last,
And gaily on their journey passed.
A little space beyond there stood
A gloomy awe-inspiring wood.
The monarch's noble son began
To question thus the holy man:
'Whose gloomy forest meets mine eye
Like some vast cloud that fills the sky?
Pathless and dark it seems to be,
Where birds in thousands wander free;
Where shrill cicadas' cries resound,

And fowl of dismal note abound,
Lion, rhinoceros, and bear,
Boar, tiger, elephant, are there,
   There shrubs and thorns run wild:
Dháo, Sál, Bignonia, Bel, [4] are found,
And every tree that grows on ground.
   How is the forest styled?'
The glorious saint this answer made:
   'Dear child of Raghu, hear
Who dwells within the horrid shade
   That looks so dark and drear.
Where now is wood, long ere this day
   Two broad and fertile lands,
Malaja and Karúsha lay.
   Adorned by heavenly hands.
Here, mourning friendship's broken ties,
Lord Indra of the thousand eyes
Hungered and sorrowed many a day,
His brightness soiled with mud and clay,
When in a storm of passion he
Had slain his dear friend Namuchi.
Then came the Gods and saints who bore
Their golden pitchers brimming o'er
With holy streams that banish stain,
And bathed Lord Indra pure again.
When in this land the God was freed
From spot and stain of impious deed
For that his own dear friend he slew,
High transport thrilled his bosom through.
Then in his joy the lands he blessed,
And gave a boon they long possessed:
'Because these fertile lands retain
The washings of the blot and stain,'
   'Twas thus Lord Indra sware,
'Malaja and Karúsha's name
Shall celebrate with deathless fame
   My malady and care.' [5]
'So be it', all the Immortals cried,
   When Indra's speech they heard,
And with acclaim they ratified
   The names his lips conferred.
Long time, O victor of thy foes,
These happy lands had sweet repose,
And higher still in fortune rose.
At length a spirit, loving ill,
Tádaká , wearing shapes at will,

Whose mighty strength, exceeding vast
A thousand elephants, surpassed,
Was to fierce Sunda, lord and head
Of all the demon armies, wed.
From her, Lord Indra's peer in might
Giant Máricha sprang to light:
And she, a constant plague and pest,
These two fair realms has long distressed.
Now dwelling in her dark abode
A league away she bars the road:
And we, O Ráma, hence must go
Where lies the forest of the foe.
Now on thine own right arm rely,
   And my command obey:
Smite the foul monster that she die.
   And take the plague away.
To reach this country none may dare
   Fallen from its old estate,
Which she, whose fury naught can bear,
   Has left so desolate.
And now my truthful tale is told
   How with accursed sway
The spirit plagued this wood of old,
   And ceases not to-day.'


  1. 'A celebrated lake regarded in India as sacred. It lies in the lofty region between the northern highlands of the Himalayas and mount Kailása, the region of the sacred lakes. The poem, following the popular Indian belief, makes the river Sarayú (now Sarjú) flow from the Mánasa lake; the sources of the river are a little to the south about a day's journey from the lake. See Lassen, Indische Alterthumsbunde, page 34.' GORBESIO. Manas means mind; mánasa, mental, mind-born.
  2. Sarovar means best of lakes. This is another of the poet's fanciful etymologies.
  3. The confluence of two or more rivers is often a venerated and holy place. The most famous is Prayág or Allahabad, where the Sarasvatí by an underground course is believed to join the Jumna and the Ganges.
  4. The botanical names of the trees mentioned in the text are Grislea Tormentosa, Shorea Robusta, Echites Antidysenterica, Bignonia Suaveolens, Aegle Marmelos, and Diospyrus Glutinosa. I have omitted the Kutaja (Echites) and the Tinduka (Diospyrus).
  5. Here we meet with a fresh myth to account for the name of these regions. Malaja is probably a non-Aryan word signifying a hilly country: taken as a Sanskrit compound it means sprung from defilement. The word Karúsha appears to have a somewhat similar meaning.