The Ramayana/Book II/Canto CI: Bharat Questioned

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto CI: Bharat Questioned

Then Rama gazed, and scarcely knew
Bharat so worn and changed in hue.
He raised him, kissed him on the head,
Embraced him, and thus kindly said;
'Where was thy father, brother dear,
That thou art come to seek me here?
Unmeet, if he be living yet,
Thy feet within the wood to set.
I pray thee now the cause declare
Why thou hast left the kingdom there,
With matted locks and deerskin dress
To roam the distant wilderness.'
Thus questioned by the prince, at length
Kaikeyi's son regained his strength,
And hand to hand in reverence laid,
To Rama thus his answer made:
'The great-armed monarch, O my lard,
Has dared to do a thing abhorred,
Left us, and grieving for his son,
A home among the Gods has won.
My mother Queen Kaikeyf gave
The order to the king her slave,
And at the bidding of the dame
He wrought the sin which mars his fame.
Athirst for sway, her hopes are crossed,
She mourns her son, her husband lost,
And through her impious crime will go
For punishment to hell below.
Now O my lord, forgive me all;
Be gracious to thy lowly thrall:
Anointed king, accept to-day
Like Iudra's self, the royal sway.
Be gracious, Prince, to lord and peer,
And widowed queens who seek thee here
Accept the kingdom thine by right.
And so thy faithful friends delight.
Let the broad land no longer be
All widowed and forlorn of thee:
Let the full moon of autumn reign
Triumphant o'er the night again.
These lords and I before thee bend:
O Rama, to Our prayer attend.
O do not thou this grace deny:
Thy brother, pupil, slave am I.
Look on this venerable ring,
Advisers of our sire the king.
From age to age so honoured: thou
Shouldst grant their supplication now?
   As weeping thus the hero prayed,
His head at Rama's feet he laid.
Like a mad elephant he sighed:
And Rama, gazed and thus replied:
'How, brother, Can a man of worth,
True to his vows, of noble birth-
A man like me, commit a sin
The lordship of the land to win?
No slightest shade of fault I see,
O tamer of thy foes, in thee.
But ne'er shouldst thou in childish thought
The queen thy mother blame in aught,
O brother wise and sinless, know
The sacred laws would have it so,
That from good wife and son require
Obedience to their lord and sire.
And we are all the king's, for thus
The virtuous ever reckon us:
Yea brother, be it known to thee,
His wives, and sons, and pupils we.
His is the right, if he deem fit,
To bid me, throned as monarch, sit,
Or in a coat of bark expel,
And deerskin, in the wood to dwell.
And O remember, best of all
Who act as claims of duty call,
As to a virtuous sire is due,
Such honour claims a mother too.
So they whose lives have ever been
By duty led, the king and queen,
Said,'Rama, seek the forest shade:'
And I (what could I else?) obeyed.
Thou must the royal power retain,
And o'er the famed Ayodhyá reign:
I dressed in bark my days will spent
Where Dandak'a forest wilds extend.
So Das'aratha spoke, our king,
His share to each apportioning
Before his honoured servants, eyes:
Then, heir of bliss, he sought the skies.
The righteous monarch's honoured will,
Whom all revered, must guide thee still,
And thou must still enjoy the share
Assigned thee by our father's care.
So I till twice seven years are spent
Will roam this wood in banishment,
Contented with the lot which he,
My high-souled sire, has given me.
The charge the monarch gave, endeared
To all mankind, by all revered,
   Peer of the Lord Supreme,
Far better, richer far in gain
Of every blessing than to reign
   O'er all the worlds I deem.'