The Ramayana/Book II/Canto VI: The City Decorated

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto VI: The City Decorated

Then Ráma bathed in order due,
His mind from worldly thoughts withdrew,
And with big large-eyed wife besought
Náráyan, as a votary ought.
Upon his head the brimming cup
Of holy oil he lifted up,
Then placed within the kindled fire
The offering to that heavenly Sire,
And as he sipped the remnant prayed
To Him for blessing and for aid.
Then with still lips and tranquil mind
With his Videhan he reclined,
In Vishnu's chapel, on a bed
Where holy grass was duly spread,
While still the prince's every thought
Tbe God supreme, Náráyan, sought.
One watch remained the night to close
When Ráma from his couch arose,
And bade the men and maids adorn
His palace for the solemn morn.
He heard the bards and heralds raise
Auspicious strains of joy and praise;
And breathed devout, with voice restrained,
The hymn for morning rites ordained;
Then, with his head in reverence bowed,
Praised Madhu's conquering foe aloud.
And, in pure linen robes arrayed,
The priests to raise their voices prayed.
Obedient to the summons they
Proclaimed to all the festal day.
The Bráhmans' voices, deep and sweet,
Resounded through the crowded street,
And echoed through Ayodhyá went
By many a loud-toned instrument.
Then all the people joyed to hear
That Ráma with his consort dear
Had fasted till the morning light
In preparation for the rite.
Swiftly the joyful tidings through
Ayodhyá's crowded city flew,
And soon as dawn appeared, each man
To decorate the town began.

In all the temples bright and fair
As white clouds towering in the air,
In streets, and where the cross-ways met,
Where holy fig-trees had been set,
In open square, in sacred shade,
Where merchants' shops their wealth displayed,
On all the mansions of the great,
And householders of wealth and state,
Where'er the people loved to meet,
Where'er a tree adorned the street,
Gay banners floated to the wind,
And ribands round the staves were twined.
Then clear the singers' voices rang,
As, charming mind and ear, they sang.
Here players shone in bright attire,
There dancing women swelled the quire.
Each with his friend had much to say
Of Ráma's consecration-day:
Yea, even children, as they played
At cottage doors beneath the shade.
The royal street with flowers was strown
Which loving hands in heaps had thrown,
And here and there rich incense lent
Its fragrance to the garland's scent;
And all was fresh and fair and bright
In honour of the coming rite.
With careful foresight to illume
With borrowed blaze the midnight gloom,
The crowds erected here and there
Trees in each street gay lamps to bear.
The city thus from side to side
In festal guise was beautified.
The people of the town who longed
To view the rite together thronged,
And filling every court and square
Praised the good king in converse there:
'Our high-souled king! He throws a grace
On old Ikshváku's royal race.
He feels his years' increasing weight,
And makes his son associate.
Great joy to us the choice will bring
Of Ráma for our lord and king.
The good and bad to him are known,
And long will he protect his own.
No pride his prudent breast may swell,
Most just, he loves his brothers well,
And to us all that love extends,
Cherished as brothers and as friends.
Long may our lord in life remain,
Good Das'aratha, free from stain,
By whose most gracious favour we
Ráma anointed king shall see.'

Such were the words the townsmen spoke
Heard by the gathering countryfolk,
Who from the south, north, east, and west,
Stirred by the joyful tidings, pressed.
For by their eager longing led
To Ráma's consecration sped
The villagers from every side,
And filled Ayodhyá's city wide.
This way and that way strayed the crowd,
While rose a murmur long and loud,
As when the full moon floods the skies
And Ocean's waves with thunder rise.
   That town, like Indra's city fair,
     While peasants thronged her ways.
   Tumultuous roared like Ocean, where
     Each flood-born monster plays.