The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXXIV: Brahmadatta

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

'A king of Brahmá's seed who bore
The name of Kus'a reigned of yore.
Just, faithful to his vows, and true,
He held the good in honour due.
His bride, a queen of noble name.
Of old Vidarbha's [1] monarchs came.
Like their own father, children four,
All valiant boys, the lady bore.
In glorious deeds each nerve they strained,
And well their Warrior part sustained.
To them most just, and true, and brave,
Their father thus his counsel gave:
"Beloved children, ne'er forget
Protection is a prince's debt:
The noble work at once begin,
High virtue and her fruits to win."
The youths to all the people dear,
Received his speech with willing ear;
And each went forth his several way,
Foundations of a town to lay.
Kus'án, a prince of high renown,
Was builder of Kaus'ámbí's town,
And Kus'anábha, just and wise,
Bade high Mahodaya's towers arise.
Amúrtarajas chose to dwell
In Dharmáranya's citadel,
And Vasu bade his city fair
The name of Girivraja bear. [2]
This fertile spot whereon we stand
Was once the high-souled Vasu's land.
Behold! as round we turn our eyes,

Five lofty mountain peaks arise.
See! bursting from her parent hill,
Sumágadhi, a lovely rill,
Bright gleaming as she flows between
The mountains, like a wreath is seen,
And then through Magadh's plains and groves
With many a fair mæander roves.
And this was Vasu's old domain,
The fertile Magadh's broad champaign,
Which smiling fields of tilth adorn
And diadem with golden corn.

The queen Ghrítáchí, nymph most fair,
Married to Kus'anábha, bare
A hundred daughters, lovely-faced,
With every charm and beauty graced.
It chanced the maidens, bright and gay
As lightning-flashes on a day
Of rain time, to the garden went
With song and play and merriment,
And there in gay attire they strayed,
And danced, and laughed, and sang, and played.
The God of Wind who roves at will
All places, as he lists, to fill,
Saw the young maidens dancing there,
Of faultless shape and mien most fair,
'I love you all, sweet girls,' he cried,
And each shall be my darling bride.
Forsake, forsake your mortal lot,
And gain a life that withers not.
A fickle thing is youth's brief span,
And more than all in mortal man.
Receive unending youth, and be
Immortal, O my loves, with me.'

The hundred girls, to wonder stirred,
The wooing of the Wind-God heard,
Laughed, as a jest, his suit aside,
And with one voice they thus replied.
'O mighty Wind, free spirit who
All life pervadest, through and through,
Thy wondrous power we maidens know;
Then wherefore wilt thou mock us so?
Our sire is Kus'anábha, King;
And we, forsooth, have charms to bring
A God to woo us from the skies;
But honour first we maidens prize.
Far may the hour, we pray, be hence,
When we, O thou of little sense,
Our truthful father's choice refuse,
And for ourselves our husbands choose.
Our honoured sire our lord we deem,
He is to us a God supreme,
And they to whom his high decree
May give us shall our husbands be.'

He heard the answer they returned,
And mighty rage within him burned.
On each fair maid a blast he sent:
Each stately form be bowed and bent.
Bent double by the Wind-God's ire
Tliey sought the palace of their sire,

There fell upon the ground with sighs,
While tears and shame were in their eyes.
The king himself, with troubled brow,
Saw his dear girls so fair but now,
A mournful sight all bent and bowed,
And grieving thus he cried aloud:
'What fate is this, and what the cause!
What wretch has scorned all heavenly laws?
Who thus your forms could curve and break?
You struggle, but no answer make.'

They heard the speech of that wise king
Of their misfortune questioning.
Again the hundred maidens sighed,
Touched with their heads his feet, and cried;
'The God of Wind, pervading space,
Would bring on us a foul disgrace,
And choosing folly's evil way
From virtue's path in scorn would stray.
But we in words like these reproved
The God of Wind whom passion moved:
'Farewell, O Lord! A sire have we,
No women uncontrolled and free.
Go, and our sire's consent obtain
If thou our maiden hands wouldst gain.
No self-dependent life we live:
If we offend, our fault forgive.'
'But led by folly as a slave,
He would not hear the rede we gave,
And even as we gently spoke
We felt the Wind-God's crushing stroke.'

The pious king, with grief distressed,
The noble hundred thus addressed:
'With patience, daughters, bear your fate,
Yours was a deed supremely great
When with one mind you kept from shame
The honour of your father's name.
Patience, when men their anger vent,
Is woman's praise and ornament;
Yet when the Gods inflict the blow
Hard is it to support the woe.
Patience, my girls, exceeds all price:
'Tis alms, and truth, and sacrifice.
Patience is virtue, patience fame:
Patience upholds this earthly frame.
And now, I think, is come the time
To wed you in jour maiden prime.
Now, daughters, go where'er you will:
Thoughts for your good my mind shall fill.'

The maidens went, consoled, away:
The best of kings, that very day,
Summoned his ministers of state
About their marriage to debate.
Since then, because the Wind-God bent
The damsels' forms for punishment,
That royal town is known to fame
By Kanyákubja's [3] borrowed name.

There lived a sage called Chúli then,
Devoutest of the sons of men;
His days in penance rites he spent,
A glorious saint, most continent.
To him absorbed in tasks austere
The child of Urmilá drew near,
Sweet Somadá, the heavenly maid,
And lent the saint her pious aid.
Long time near him the maiden spent,
And served him meek and reverent,
Till the great hermit, pleased with her,
Thus spoke unto his minister:
'Grateful am I for all thy care:
Blest maiden, speak, thy wish declare.'
The sweet-voiced nymph rejoiced to see
The favour of the devotee,
And to that eloquent old man,
Most eloquent she thus began:
'Thou hast, by heavenly grace sustained,
Close union with the Godhead gained.
I long, O Saint, to see a son
By force of holy penance won.
Unwed, a maiden life I live:
A son to me, thy suppliant, give.'
The saint with favour heard her prayer,
And gave a son exceeding fair.
Him, Chúli's spiritual child,
His mother Brahmadatta [4] styled.
King Brahmadatta, rich and great,
In Kámpilí maintained his state,
Ruling, like Indra in his bliss,
His fortunate metropolis.
King Kus'anábha planned that he
His hundred daughters' lord should be.
To him, obedient to his call,
The happy monarch gave them all.
Like Indra then he took the hand
Of every maiden of the band.
Soon as the hand of each young maid
In Brahmadatta's palm was laid,
Deformity and cares away,
She shone in beauty bright and gay.
Their freedom from the Wind-God's might
Saw Kus'anábha with delight.
Each glance that on their forms he threw
Filled him with raptures ever new.
Then when the rites were all complete,
Witli highest marks of honour meet
The bridegroom with his brides he sent
To his great seat of government.

The nymph received with pleasant speech
Her daughters; and, embracing each,
Upon their forms she fondly gazed,
And royal Kus'anábha praised.


  1. The modern Berar.
  2. According to the Bengal recension the first (Kus'ámba) is called Kus'ás'va, and his city Kaus'ás'ví. This name does not occur elsewhere. The reading of the northern recension is confirmed by *Foê *Kouê Ki; p. 385, where the citv Kiaoshangmi is mentioned. It lay 500 lis to the south-west of Prayága, on the south bunk of the Jumna. Mahodaya is another name of Kanyakubja: Dharmáranya, the wood to which the God of Justice is said to have fled through fear of Soma the Moon-God, was in Magadh. Girivraja w s in the same neighbourhood, See Lasson's I. A. Vol. I, p. 604.
  3. That is, the City of the Bent Virgins, the modern Kanauj or Canouge.
  4. Literally, Given by Brahma or devout contemplation.