The Ramayana/Book II/Canto X: Das'aratha's Speech

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto X: Das'aratha's Speech

As Queen Kaikeví thus obeyed
The sinful counsel of her maid
She sank upon the chamber floor,
As sinks in anguish, wounded sore,
An elephant beneath the smart
Of the wild hunter's venomed dart.
The lovely lady in her mind
Resolved the plot her maid designed,
And prompt the gain and risk to scan
She step by step approved the plan.
Misguided by the hump back's guile
She pondered her resolve awhile,
As the fair path that bliss secured
The miserable lady lured,

Devoted to her queen, and swayed
By hopes of gain and bliss, the maid
Rejoiced her lady's purpose known,
And deemed the prize she sought her own.
Then bent upon her purpose dire,
Kaikeyí with her soul on fire,
Upon the floor lay, languid, down,
Her brows contracted in a frown.
The bright-hued wreath that bound her hair,
Chains, necklets, jewels rich and rare,
Stripped off by her own fingers lay
Spread on the ground in disarray,
And to the floor a lustre lent
As stars light up the firmament.
Thus prostrate in the mourner's cell,
In garb of woe the lady fell,
Her long hair in a single braid,
Like some fair nymph of heaven dismayed. [1]
   The monarch, Ráma to install,
With thoughtful care had ordered all,
And now within his home withdrew,
Dismissing first his retinue.
Now all the town has heard, thought he,
What joyful rite the morn will see.
So turned he to her bower to cheer
With the glad news his darling's ear.
Majestic, as the Lord of Night,
When threatened by the Dragon's might,
Bursts radiant on the evening sky
Pale with the clouds that wander by,
So Das'aratha, great in fame,
To Queen Kaikeyí's palace came.
There parrots flew from tree to tree,
And gorgeous peacocks wandered free,
While ever and anon was heard
The note of some glad water-bird.
Here loitered dwarf and hump-backed maid,
There lute and here sweet music played.
Here, rich in blossom, creepers twined
O'er grots with wondrous art designed,
There Champac and As'oka flowers
Hung glorious o'er the summer bowers,
And mid the waving verdure rose
Gold, silver, ivory porticoes.
Through all the months in ceaseless store
The trees both fruit and blossom bore.
With many a lake the grounds were graced;
Seats gold and silver, here were placed;
Here every viand wooed the taste,
It was a garden meet to vie
E'en with the home of Gods on high.

Within the mansion rich and vast
The mighty Das'aratha passed:
Not there was his beloved queen
On her fair couch reclining seen.
With love his eager pulses beat
For the dear wife he came to meet,
And in his blissful hopes deceived,
He sought his absent love and grieved.
For never had she missed the hour
Of meeting in her sumptuous bower,
And never had the king of men
Entered the empty room till then.
Still urged by love and anxious thought
News of his favourite queen he sought,
For never had his loving eyes
Found her or selfish or unwise.
Then spoke at length the warder maid,
With hands upraised and sore afraid:
'My Lord and King, the queen has sought
The mourner's cell with rage distraught.'
   The words the warder maiden said
He heard with soul disquieted,
And thus as fiercer grief assailed,
His troubled senses wellnigh failed.
Consumed by torturing fires of grief
The king, the world's imperial chief,
His lady lying on the ground
In most unqueenly posture, found.
The aged king, all pure within,
Saw the young queen resolved on sin,
Low on the ground, his own sweet wife,
To him far dearer than his life,
Like some fair creeping plant uptorn,
Or like a maid of heaven forlorn,
A nymph of air or Goddess sent
From Swarga down in banishment.
As some wild elephant who tries
To soothe his consort as she lies
Struck by the hunter's venomed dart,
So the great king disturbed in heart.
Strove with soft hand and fond caress
To soothe his darling queen's distress,
Aud in his love addressed with sighs
The lady of the lotus eyes:
   'I know not, Queen, why thou shouldst be
Thus angered to the heart with me.
Say, who has alighted thee, or whence
Has come the cause of such offence
That in the dust thou liest low,
And rendest my fond heart with woe,
As if some goblin of the night
Had struck thee with a deadly blight,
And cast foul influence on her
Whose spells my loving bosom stir?
I have Physicians famed for skill,
Each trained to cure some special ill:
My sweetest lady, tell thy pain,
And they shall make thee well again.
Whom, darling, wouldst thou punished see?
Or whom enriched with lordly fee?

"Weep not, my lovely Queen, and stay
This grief that wears thy frame away
Speak, and the guilty shall be freed,
The guiltless be condemned to bleed.
The poor enriched, the rich abased.
The low set high, the proud disgraced.
Mv lords and I thy will obey,
All slaves who own thy sovereign sway;
And I can ne'er my heart incline
To check in aught one wish of thine.
Now by my life I pray thee tell
The thoughts that in thy bosom dwell,
The power and might thou knowest wel.
Should from thy breast all doubt expel,
I swear by all my merit won,
Speak, and thy pleasure shall be done.
Far as the world's wide bounds extend
My glorious empire knows no end.
Mine are the tribes in eastern lands,
And those who dwell on Sindhu's sands:
Mine is Suráshtra, far away,
Suvíra's realm admits my sway.
My best the southern nations fear,
The Angas and the Vaugas hear.
And as lord paramount I reign
O'er Magadh and the Matsyas' plain,
Kos'al, and Kási's wide domain: [2]
All rich in treasures of the mine.
In golden corn, sheep, goats, and kine.
Choose what thou wilt. Kaikeyi, thence:
But tell me, O my darling, whence
Arose thy grief, and it shall fly
Like hoar-frost when the sun is high.'

She, by his loving words consoled,
Longed her dire purpose to unfold,
And sought with sharper pangs to wring
The bosom of her lord the king.


  1. These verses are evidently an interpolation. They contain nothing that has not been already related: the words only are altered. As the whole poem could not be recited at once, the rhapsodists at the beginning of a fresh recitation would naturally remind their hearers of the events immediately preceding.
  2. The Sloka or distich which I have been forced to expand into these nine lines is evidently spurious, but is found in all the commented MSS. whioh Schiegel consulted.