The Ramayana/Book II/Canto IV: Ráma Summoned

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto IV: Ráma Summoned

The crowd dismissed, to high debate
The monarch called his peers of state,
And, counsel from their lips obtained,
Firm in his will his will explained:
'To-morrow with auspicious ray
The moon in Pushya's sign will stay;
Be that the time with happy fate
Mine eldest son to consecrate,
And let my Ráma, lotus-eyed,
As Regent o'er the state preside.'

He sought, within, his charioteer,
And cried 'Again bring Ráma here.'
To Ráma's home Sumantra hied
Again to be the prince's guide.
His coming, told to Ráma's ear,
Suggested anxious doubt and fear.
He bade the messenger be led
That instant in, and thus he said:
'Tell me the cause, omitting naught.
Why thou again my house hast sought.'

The envoy answered: 'Prince, thy sire
Has sent thy presence to require.
My sender known,'tis thine to say
If thou wilt go or answer nay.'
Then Ráma, when he heard his speech,
Made haste the royal court to reach.
Soon as the monarch was aware
His dearest son was waiting there,
Eager the parley to begin
He bade them lead the prince within,
Soon as he passed the chamber door
The hero bent him to the floor,
And at a distance from his seat
Raised his joined hands his sire to greet.
The monarch raised him from the ground,
And loving arms about him wound,
Then pointed to a seat that shone
With gold for him to rest upon.
'Aged am I,' he said, 'and worn;
In life's best joys my share have borne;
Rites to the Gods, in hundreds, paid,
With gifts of corn and largess made.
I yearned for sons: my life is blest
With them and thee of sons the best.
No debt to saints or Bráhmans, no,
Nor spirits, Gods, or self I owe.
One duty now remains alone,
To set thee on thy father's throne.
Now therefore, Ráma, hear my rede,
And mark my words with duteous heed:
This day the peoples' general voice,
Elects thee king of love and choice,
And I, consenting to the prayer,
Will make thee, darling, Regent Heir.
Dread visions, each returning night,
With evil omens scare my sight.
Red meteors with a fearful sound
Shoot wildly downward to the ground,
While tempests lash the troubled air;
And they who read the stars declare
That, leagued against my natal sign,
Ráhu [1] the Sun, [2] and Mars combine.
When portents dire as these appear,
A monarch's death or woe is near.
Then while my senses yet are spared,
And thought and will are unimpaired,
Be thou, my son, anointed king:
Men's fancy is a fickle thing.
To-day the moon, in order due,
Entered the sign Punarvasu; [3]
To-morrow, as the wise foretell,
In Pushya's favouring stars will dwell:
Then on the throne shalt thou be placed.
My soul, prophetic, counsels haste:
Thee, O my son, to-morrow I
As Regent Heir will sanctify.
So till the coming night he passed
Do thou and Sítá strictly fast:
From worldly thoughts thy soul refrain,
And couched on holy grass remain.

And let thy trusted lords attend
In careful watch upon their friend,
For, unexpected, check and bar
Our weightiest counsels often mar.
While Bharat too is far away
Making with royal kin his stay,
I deem the fittest time of all
Thee, chosen Regent, to install.
It may be Bharat still has stood
True to the counsels of the good,
Faithful to thee with tender trust,
With governed senses, pure and just.
But human minds, too well I know,
Will sudden changes undergo,
And by their constant deeds alone
The virtue of the good is shown.
Now, Ráma, go. My son, good night!
Fixt is to-morrow for the rite.'

Then Ráma paid the reverence due,
And quickly to his home withdrew.
He passed within, nor lingered there,
But sought his mother's mansion, where
The dame in linen robes arrayed
Devoutly in the chapel prayed
To Fortune's Queen,with utterance checked,
That she her Ráma would protect.
There was Sumitrá too, and there
Was Lakshman led by loving care:
And when the royal choice they knew
Sítá in haste was summoned too.
Absorbed, with half-shut eyes, the queen
Attended by the three was seen.
She knew that Pushya's lucky hour
Would raise her son to royal power,
So fixed with bated breath each thought
On God supreme, by all men sought.
To her, as thus she knelt and prayed,
Ráma drew near, due reverence paid,
And then to swell his mother's joy,
Thus spoke her own beloved boy;
'O mother dear, my sire's decree
Entrusts the people's weal to me.
To-morrow I, for so his will.
Anointed king, the throne shall fill.
The few last hours till night shall end
Sitá with me must fasting spend,
For so my father has decreed,
And holy priests with him agreed.
What vows soever thou mayst deem
My consecration's eve beseem,
Do thou, sweet mother, for my sake
And for beloved Sitá's make.'

When the glad news Kaus'alyá heard,
So long desired, so long deferred,
While tears of joy her utterance broke,
In answer to her son she spoke:
'Long be thy life, my darling: now
Thy prostrate foes before thee bow.
Live long and with thy bright success
My friends and dear Sumitrá's bless.
Surely the stars were wondrous fair
When thee, sweet son, thy mother bare,
That thy good gifts such love inspire
And win the favour of thy sire.
With thee I travailed not in vain;
Those lotus eyes reward my pain,
And all the glory of the line
Of old Ikshváku will be thine.'

He smiled, and on his brother gazed
Who sate with reverent hands upraised,
And said: 'My brother, thou must be
Joint-ruler of this land with me.
My second self thou, Lakshman, art,
And in my fortune bearest part.
Be thine, Sumitrá's son, to know
The joys from regal power that flow.
My life itself, the monarch's seat,
For thy dear sake to me are sweet. [4]

Thus Ráma to his brother said,
To both his mothers' bowed his head,
And then with Sítá by his side
To his own house the hero hied.


  1. Ráhu, the ascending node, is in mythology a demon with the tail of a dragon whose head was severed from his body by Vishnu, but being immortal, the head and tail retained their separate existence and being transferred to the stellar sphere became the authors of eclipses; the first especially by endeavouring to swallow the sun and moon.
  2. In eclipse.
  3. The seventh of the lunar asterisms.
  4. Kaus'alyá aud Sumitrá.