The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXXI: The Perfect Hermitage

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XXXI: The Perfect Hermitage

Thus spoke the prince of boundless might,
And thus replied the anchorite:
'Chief of the mighty arm, of yore
Lord Vishnu whom the Gods adore,
For holy thought and rites austere
Of penance made his dwelling here.
This ancient wood was called of old
Grave of the Dwarf, the mighty-souled,
And when perfection he attained
The grove the name of Perfect gained.
Bali of yore, Virochan's son,
Dominion over Indra won,
And when with power his proud heart swelled,
O'er the three worlds his empire held.
When Bali then began a rite,
The Gods and Indra in affright
Sought Vishnu in this place of rest,
And thus with prayers the God addressed:
'Bali, Virochan's mighty son,
His sacrifice has now begun:
Of boundless wealth, that demon king
Is bounteous to each living thing.
Though suppliants flock from every side
The suit of none is e'er denied.
Whate'er, where'er, howe'er the call,
He hears the suit and gives to all.
Now with thine own illusive art
Perform, O Lord, the helper's part:
Assume a dwarfish form, and thus
From fear and danger rescue us.' [1]

Thus in their dread the Immortals sued:
The God a dwarflike shape indued: [2]
Before Virochan's son he came,
Three steps of land his only claim.
The boon obtained, in wondrous wise
Lord Vishnu's form increased in size;
Through all the worlds, tremendous, vast,
God of the Triple Step, he passed. [3]
The whole broad earth from side to side
He measured with one mighty stride,
Spanned with the next the firmament,
And with the third through heaven he went.

Thus was the king of demons hurled
By Vishnu to the nether world,
And thus the universe restored
To Indra's rule, its ancient lord.
And now because the immortal God
This spot in dwarflike semblance trod,
The grove has aye been loved by me
For reverence of the devotee.
But demons haunt it, prompt to stay
Each holy offering I would pay.
Be thine, O lion-lord, to kill
These giants that delight in ill.
This day, beloved child, our feet
Shall rest within the calm retreat:
And know, thou chief of Raghu's line,
My hermitage is also thine.'
   He spoke; and soon the anchorite,
With joyous looks that beamed delight,
With Ráma and his brother stood
Within the consecrated wood.
Soon as they saw the holy man,
With one accord together ran
The dwellers in the sacred shade,
And to the saint their reverence paid,
And offered water for his feet,
The gift of honour and a seat;
And next with hospitable care
They entertained the princely pair.
The royal tamers of their foes
Rested awhile in sweet repose:
Then to the chief of hermits sued
Standing in suppliant attitude:
'Begin, O best of saints, we pray,
Initiatory rites to-day.
This Perfect Grove shall be anew
Made perfect, and thy words be true.'
   Then, thus addressed, the holy man,
The very glorious sage, began
The high preliminary rite.
Restraining sense and appetite.
Calmly the youths that night reposed,
And rose when morn her light disclosed,
Their morning worship paid, and took
Of lustral water from the brook.
Thus purified they breathed the prayer,
Then greeted Vis'vamítra where
As celebrant he sate beside
The flame with sacred oil supplied.


  1. I omit, after this line, eight s'lokas which, as Schlegel allows, are quite out of place.
  2. This is the fifth of the avatárs, descents or incarnations of Vishnu.
  3. This is a solar allegory. Vishnu is the sun, the three steps being his rising, culmination, and setting.