The Ramayana/Book II/Canto LXXXIX: The Passage of Gangá

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LXXXIX: The Passage of Gangá

That night the son of Raghu lay
On Gangá's bank till break of day:
Then with the earliest light he woke
And thus to brave S'atrughna spoke.
'Rise up, S'atrughna, from thy bed:
Why sleepest thou the night is fled.
See how the sun who chases night
Wakes every lotus with his light.
Arise, arise, and first of all
The lord of S'ringavera call,
For he his friendly aid will lend
Our army o'er the flood to send.'
   Thus urged, S'atrughna answered: 'I,
Remembering Ráma, sleepless lie.'
As thus the brothers, each to each,
The lion-mettled, ended speech,
Came Guha, the Nishádas' king,
And spoke with kindly questioning:
'Hast thou in comfort passed,' he cried,
'The night upon the river side?
With thee how fares it? and are these,
Thy soldiers, health and at ease?'
Thus the Nishádas' lord inquired
In gentle words which love inspired,
And Bharat, Ráma's faithful slave,
Thus to the king his answer gave:
'The night has sweetly passed, and we
Are highly honoured, King, by thee.
Now let thy servants boats prepare,
Our army o'er the stream to bear.'
   The speech of Bharat Guha heard,
And swift to do his bidding stirred.
Within the town the monarch sped
And to his ready kinsmen said:
'Awake, each kinsman, rise, each friend!
May every joy your lives attend.
Gather each boat upon the shore
And ferry all the army o'er.'
Thus Guha spoke: nor they delayed,
But, rising quick, their lord obeyed,
And soon, from every side secured,
Five hundred boats were ready moored.
Some reared aloft the mystic sign, [1]
And mighty bells were hung in line:
Of firmest build, gay flags they bore,
And sailors for the helm and oar.
One such King Guha chose, whereon,
Of fair white cloth, an awning shone,
And sweet musicians charmed the ear,--
And bade his servants urge it near.
Then Bharat swiftly sprang on board,
And then S'atrughna, famous lord,
To whom, with many a royal dame,
Kaus'alyá and Sumitrá came.
The household priest went first in place,
The elders, and the Brahman race,
And after them the monarch's train
Of women borne in many a wain,
Then high to heaven the shouts of those
Who fired the army's huts, [2] arose,
With theirs who bathed along the shore,
Or to the boats the baggage bore.
Full freighted with that mighty force
The boats sped swiftly on their coarse,
By royal Guha's servants manned,
And gentle gales the banners fanned.
Some boats a crowd of dames conveyed,
In others noble coursers neighed;
Some chariots and their cattle bore,
Some precious wealth and golden store.
Across the stream each boat was rowed,
There duly disembarked its load,
And then returning on its way,
Sped here and there in merry play.
Then swimming elephants appeared
With flying pennons high upreared.
And as the drivers urged them o'er,
The look of winged mountains wore.
Some men in barges reached the strand,
Others on rafts came safe to land:
Some buoyed with pitchers crossed the tide,
And others on their arms relied.
Thus with the help the monarch gave
The army crossed pure Gangá's wave:
Then in auspicious hour it stood
Within Prayuga's famous wood.
The prince with cheering words addressed
His weary mem, and bade them rest
   Where'er they chose and he,
With priest and deacon by his side,
To Bharadvaja's dwelling hied
   That best of saints to see.


  1. The svastika, a little cross with a transverse line at each extremity.
  2. When an army marched it was customary to burn the huts in which it had spent the night.