The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXXII: Vis'vámitra's Sacrifice

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

That conquering pair, of royal race,
Skilled to observe due time and place,
To Kús'ik's hermit son addressed,
In timely words, their meet request:
'When must we, lord, we pray thee tell,
Those Rovers of the Night repel?

Speak, lest we let the moment fly,
And pass the due occasion by.'
Thus longing for the strife, they prayed,
And thus the hermits answer made:
'Till the fifth day be come and past,
O Raghu's sons, your watch must last,
The saint his Dikshá [1] has begun,
And all that time will speak to none.'
Soon as the steadfast devotees
Had made reply in words like these,
The youths began, disdaining sleep,
Six days and nights their watch to keep.
The warrior pair who tamed the foe,
Unrivalled benders of the bow,
Kept watch and ward unwearied still
To guard the saint from scathe and ill.
'Twas now the sixth returning day,
The hour foretold had past away.
Then Ráma cried: 'O Lakshman, now
Firm, watchful, resolute be thou.
The fiends as yet have kept afar
From the pure grove in which we are;
Yet waits us, ere the day shall close,
Dire battle with the demon foes.'
   While thus spoke Ráma borne away
By longing for the deadly fray,
See! bursting from the altar came
The sudden glory of the flame.
Round priest and deacon, and upon
Grass, ladles, flowers, the splendour shone,
And the high rite, in order due,
With sacred texts began anew.
But then a loud and fearful roar
   Re-echoed through the sky;
And like vast clouds that shadow o'er
   The heavens in dark July,
Involved in gloom of magic might
   Two fiends rushed on amain,
Máricha, Rover of the Night,
   Suváhu, and their train.
As on they came in wild career
   Thick blood in rain they shed;
And Ráma saw those things of fear
   Impending overhead.
Then soon as those accursed two
   Who showered down blood be spied,
Thus to his brother brave and true
   Spoke Ráma lotus-eyed:
'Now, Lakshman, thou these fiends shalt see,
   Man-eaters, foul of mind,
Before my mortal weapon flee
   Like clouds before the wind.'
He spoke. An arrow, swift as thought,
   Upon his bow he pressed,
And smote, to utmost fury wrought,
   Máricha on the breast.
Deep in his flesh the weapon lay
   Winged by the mystic spell,

And, hurled a hundred leagues away,
   In ocean's flood he fell.
Then Ráma, when he saw the foe
   Convulsed and mad with pain
'Neath the chill-pointed weapon's blow,
   To Lakshman spoke again:
'See, Lakshman, see! this mortal dart
   That strikes a numbing chill,
Hath struck him senseless with the smart,
   But left him breathing still.
But these who love the evil way,
   And drink the blood they spill,
Rejoicing holy rites to stay,
   Fierce plagues, my hand shall kill.'
He seized another shaft, the best,
   Aglow with living flame;
It struck Suváhu on the chest,
   And dead to earth he came.
Again a dart, the Wind-God's own,
   Upon his string he laid,
And all the demons were o'erthrown,
   The saints no more afraid.
When thus the fiends were slain in fight,
Disturbers of each holy rite,
Due honour by the saints was paid
To Ráma for his wondrous aid:
So Indra is adored when he
Has won some glorious victory.
Success at last the rite had crowned,
And Visvámitra gazed around,
And seeing every side at rest,
The son of Raghu thus addressed:
'My joy, O Prince, is now complete:
   Thou hast obeyed my will:
Perfect before, this calm retreat
   Is now more perfect still.'


  1. Certain ceremonies preliminary to sacrifice.