The Ramayana/Book II/Canto LXXV: The Abjuration

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LXXV: The Abjuration

A while he lay: he rose at length,
And slowly gathering sense and strength,
With angry eyes which tears bedewed,
The miserable queen he viewed,
And spake with keen reproach to her
Before each lord and minister:
'No lust have I for kingly sway,
My mother I no more obey:
Naught of this consecration knew
Which Das'aratha kept in view,
I with S'atrughna all the time
Was dwelling in a distant clime:
I knew of Ráma's exile naught,
That hero of the noble thought:
I knew not how fair Sítá went,
And Lakshman, forth to banishment.'
Thus high-souled Bharat, mid the crowd,
Lifted his voice and cried aloud.
Kaus'alyá heard, she raised ner head.
And quickly to Sumitrá said:
'Bharat, Kaikeyí's son, is here,--
Hers whose fell deeds I loathe and fear:
That youth of foresight keen I fain
Would meet and see his face again.'
Thus to Sumitrá spake the dame,
And straight to Bharat's presence came
With altered mien, neglected dress,
Trembling and faint with sore distress.
Bharat, S'atrughna by his side,
To meet her, toward her palace hied.
And when the royal dame they viewed
Distressed with dire solicitude,
Sad, fallen senseless on the ground,
About her neck their arms they wound.
The noble matron prostrate there,
Embraced, with tears, the weeping pair,
And with her load of grief oppressed,
To Bharat then these words addressed:
'Now all is thine, without a foe,
This realm for which thou longest so.
Ah, soon Kaikeyí's ruthless hand
Has won the empire of the land,
And made my guiltless Ráma flee
Dressed like some lonely devotee.
Herein what profit has the queen,
Whose eye delights in havoc, seen?
Me also, me 'twere surely good
To banish to the distant wood,
To dwell amid the shades that hold
My famous son with limbs like gold.
Nay, with the sacred fire to guide,
Will I, Sumitrá by my side,
Myself to the drear wood repair
And seek the son of Raghu there.
This land which rice and golden corn
And wealth of every kind adorn,
Car, elephant, and steed, and gem,--
She makes thee lord of it and them.'
With taunts like these her bitter tongue
The heart of blameless Bharat wrung
And direr pangs his bosom tore
Than when the lancet probes a sore.
With troubled senses all astray
Prone at her feet he fell and lay.
With loud lament a while he plained,
And slowly strength and sense regained.
With suppliant hand to hand applied
He turned to her who wept and sighed,
And thus bespake the queen, whose breast
With sundry woes was sore distressed:
'Why these reproaches, noble dame?
I, knowing naught, am free from blame.
Thou knowest well what love was mine
For Ráma, chief of Raghu's line.
O, never be his darkened mind
To Scripture's guiding lore inclined,
By whose consent the prince who led
The good, the truthful hero, fled.
May he obey the vilest lord,
Offend the sun with act abhorred, [1]
And strike a sleeping cow, who lent
His voice to Ráma's banishment.
May the good king who all befriends,
And, like his sons, the people tends,
Be wronged by him who gave consent
To noble Ráma's banishment.
On him that king's injustice fall,
Who takes, as lord, a sixth of all,
Nor guards, neglectful of his trust,
His people, as a ruler must.
The crime of those who swear to fee,
At holy rites, some devotee,
And then the promised gift deny,
Be his who willed the prince should fly,
When weapons clash and heroes bleed,
With elephant and harnessed steed,
Ne'er, like the good, be his to fight
Whose heart allowed the prince's flight.
Though taught with care by one expert
May he the Veda's text pervert,
With impious mind on evil bent,
Whose voice approved the banishment.
Mav he with traitor lips reveal
Whate'er he promised to conceal,
And bruit abroad his friend's offence,
Betrayed by generous confidence.
No wife of equal lineage born
The wretch's joyless home adorn:
Ne'er may he do one virtuous deed,
And dying see no child succeed.
When in the battle's awful day
Fierce warriors stand in dread array,
Let the base coward turn and fly,
And smitten by the foeman, die.
Long may he wander, rags his wear,
Doomed in his hand a skull to bear,
And like an idiot beg his bread,
Who gave consent when Rama fled.
His sin who holy rites forgets,
Asleep when shows the sun and sets,
A load upon his soul shall lie
Whose will allowed the prince to fly.
His sin who loves his Master's dame,
His, kindler of destructive flame.
His who betrays his trusting friend
Shall, mingled all, on him descend.
By him no reverence due be paid
To blessed God or parted shade:
May sire and mother's sacred name
In vain from him obedience claim.
Ne'er may he go where dwell the good,
Nor win their fame and neighbourhood,
But lose all hopes of bliss to day,
Who willed the prince should flee away.
May he deceive the poor and weak
Who look to him and comfort seek,
Betray the suppliants who complain,
And make the hopeful hope in vain.
Long may his wife his kiss expect,
And pine away in cold neglect.
May he his lawful love despise,
And turn on other dames his eyes,
Fool, on forbidden joys intent,
Whose will allowed the banishment.
His sin who deadly poison throws
To spoil the water as it flows,
Lay on the wretch its burden dread
Who gave consent when Rama fled.' [2]
Thus with his words he undeceived
Kaus'alyá's troubled heart, who grieved
For son and husband reft away;
Then prostrate on the ground he lay.
Him as he lay half-senseless there,
Freed by the mighty oaths he sware,
Kaus'alyá, by her woe distressed,
With melancholy words addressed:
'Anew, my son, this sorrow springs
To rend my heart with keener stings:
These awful oaths which thou hast sworn
My breast with double grief have torn.
Thy soul, and faithful Lakshman's too,
Are still, thank Heaven! to virtue true.
True to thy promise, thou shalt gain
The mansions which the good obtain.'
Then to her breast that youth she drew,
Whose sweet fraternal love she knew,
And there in strict embraces held
The hero, as her tears outwelled.
And Bharat's heart grew sick and faint
With grief and oft-renewed complaint,
And all his senses were distraught
By the great woe that in him wrought.
Thus he lay and still bewailed
   With sighs and loud lament
Till all his strength and reason failed,
   The hours of night were spent.


  1. S'úryamcha pratimehata, adversus solem mingat. An offence expressly forbidden by the Laws of Manu.
  2. Bharat does not intend these curses for any particular person: he merely wishes to prove his own innocence by invoking them on his own head if he had any share in banishing Ráma.