The Ramayana/Book II/Canto CIII: The Funeral Libation

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto CIII: The Funeral Libation

When Rama heard from Bharat each
Dark sorrow of his mournful speech,
And tidings of his father dead,
His spirits fell, his senses fled.
For the sad words his brother spoke
Struck on him like a thunder stroke.
Fierce as the bolt which Indra throws,
The victor of his Daitya foes.
Raising his arms in anguish, he,
As when the woodman hews a tree
With its fair flowery branches crowned,
Fainted and fell upon the ground.
Lord of the earth to earth he sank.
Helpless, as when a towering bank
With sudden ruin buries deep
An elephant who lay asleep.
Then swift his wife and brothers flew,
And water, weeping, o'er him threw.
As slowly sense and strength he gained,
Fast from his eyes the tears he rained,
And then in accents sad and weak
Kakutstha's son began to speak,
And mourning for the monarch dead,
With righteous words to Bharat said:
'What calls me home, when he, alas,
Has gone the way which all must pass?
Of him, the best of kings bereft
What guardian has Ayodhya left?
How may I please his spirit? how
Delight the high-souled monarch now,
Who wept for me and went above
By me ungraced with mourning love!
Ah, happy brothers! you have paid
Due offerings to his parting shade.
E'en when my banishment is o'er,
Back to my home I go no more,
To look upon the widowed state
Reft of her king, disconsolate.
E'en then, O tamer of the foe,
If to Ayodhya's town I go.
Who will direct me as of old,
Now other worlds our father hold?
From whom, my brother, shall I hear
Those words which ever charmed mine ear
And filled my bosom with delight
Whene'er he saw me act aright?'
   Thus Rama spoke: then nearer came
And looking on his moonbright dame,
'Sit'a, the king is gone,' he said:
   'And Lakshman, know thy sire is dead,
And with the Gods on high enrolled:
This mournful news has Bharat told.'
He spoke: the noble youths with sighs
Rained down the torrents from their eyes.
And then the brothers of the chief
With words of comfort soothed his grief:
'Now to the king our sire who swayed
The earth be due libations paid.'
Soon as the monarch's fate she knew,
Sharp pangs of grief smote Sita through:
Nor could she look upon her lord
With eyes from which the torrents poured.
And Rama strove with tender care
To soothe the weeping dame's despair,
And then, with piercing woe distressed,
The mournful Lakshman thus addressed:
'Brother, I pray thee bring for me
The pressed fruit of the Ingudi,
And a bark mantle fresh and new,
That I may pay this offering due.
First of the three shall Sita go,
Next thou, and I the last: for so
Moves the funereal pomp of woe.' [1]
   Sumantra of the noble mind,
Gentle and modest, meek and kind,
Who, follower of each princely youth,
To Rama clung with constant truth,
Now with the royal brothers' aid
The grief of Rama soothed and stayed,
And lent his arm his lord to guide
Down to the river's holy side.
Tnat lovely stream the heroes found,
With woods that ever blossomed crowned,
And there in bitter sorrow bent
Their footsteps down the fair descent.
Then where the stream that swiftly flowed
A pure pellucid shallow showed,
The funeral drops they duly shed,
And 'Father, this be thine,' they said.
But he, the lord who ruled the land,
Filled from the stream his hollowed hand,
And turning to the southern side
Stretched out his arm and weeping cried:
'This sacred water clear and pure,
An offering which shall aye endure
To thee, O lord of kings, I give:
Accept it where the spirits live!'
   Then, when the solemn rite was o'er,
Came Rama to the river shore,
And offered, with his brothers' aid,
Fresh tribute to his father's shade.
With jujube fruit he mixed the seed
Of Ingudis from moisture freed,
And placed it on a spot o'erspread
With sacred grass, and weeping said:
'Enjoy, great King, the cake which we
Thy children eat and offer thee!
For ne'er do blessed Gods refuse
To share the food which mortals use.'
   Then Rama turned him to retrace
The path that brought him to the place,
And up the mountain's pleasant side
Where lovely lawns lay fair, he hied.
Soon as his cottage door he gained.
His brothers to his breast he strained.
From them and Sit'a in their woes
So loud the cry of weeping rose,
That like the roar of lions round
The mountain rolled the echoing sound.
And Bharat's army shook with fear
The weeping of the chiefs to hear.
'Bharat,' the soldiers cried, tis plain,
His brother Rama meets again,
And with these cries that round us ring
They sorrow for their sire the king.'
Then leaving car and wain behind,
One eager thought in every mind,
Swift toward the weeping, every man,
As each could find a passage, ran.
Some thither bent their eager course
With car, and elephant, and horse,
And youthful captains on their feet
With longing sped their lord to meet,
As though the new-come prince had been
An exile for long years unseen.
Earth beaten in their frantic zeal
By clattering hoof and rumbling wheel,
Sent forth a deafening noise as loud
As heaven when black with many a cloud,
Then, with their consorts gathered near,
Wild elephants in sudden fear
Rushed to a distant wood, and shed
An odour round them as they fled.
And every silvan thing that dwelt
Within those shades the terror felt,
Deer, lion, tiger, boar and roe,
Bison, wild-cow, and buffalo.
And when the tumult wild they heard.
With trembling pinions flew each bird,
From tree, from thicket, and from lake,
Swan, koil, curlew, crane, and drake.
With men the ground was overspread,
With startled birds the sky o'erhead.
Then on his sacrificial ground
The sinless, glorious chief was found.
Loading with curses deep and loud
The hump-back and the queen, the crowd.
Whose checks were wet, whose eyes were dim,
In fond affection ran to him.
While the big tears their eyes bedewed,
He looked upon the multitude,
And then as sire and mother do,
His arms about his loved ones threw.
   Some to his feet with reverence pressed,
     Some in his arms he strained:
   Each friend, with kindly words addressed,
     Due share of honour gained.
   Then, by their mighty woe o'ercome,
     The weeping heroes' cry
   Filled, like the roar of many a drum,
     Hill, cavern, earth, and sky.


  1. 'The order of the procession on these occasions is that the children precede according to age, then the women and after that the men according to age, the youngest first and the eldest last: when they descend into the water this is reversed and resumed when they come out of it.'

                   CAREY AND MAKSHMAN.