The Ramayana/Book II/Canto XCI: Bharadvája's Feast

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto XCI: Bharadvája's Feast

Soon as he saw the prince's mind
To rest that day was well inclined,
He sought Kaikeyí's son to please
With hospitable courtesies.
Then Bharat to the saint replied:
'Our wants are more than satisfied.
The gifts which honoured strangers greet,
And water for our weary feet
Hast thou bestowed with friendly care,
And every choice of woodland fare.'
   Then Bharadvája spoke, a smile
Playing upon his lips the while:
'I know, dear Prince, thy friendly mind
Will any fare sufficient find,
But gladly would I entertain
And banquet all thine armed train:
Such is my earnest wish: do thou
This longing of my heart allow,
Why host thou hither bent thy way,
And made thy troops-behind thee stay?
p. 198
Why unattended? couldst thou not
With friends and army seek this spot?'
   Bhharat, with reverent hands raised high,
To that great hermit made reply:
'My troops, for awe of thee, O Sage,
I brought not to thy hermitage:
Troops of a king or monarch's son
A hermit's home should ever shun.
Behind me comes a mighty train
Wide spreading o'er the ample plain,
Where every chief and captain leads
Men, elephants, and mettled steeds
I feared, O reverend Sage, lest these
Might harm the holy ground and trees,
Springs might be marred and cots o'er-thrown,
So with the priests I came alone.'
   'Bring all thy host,' the hermit cried,
And Bharat, to his joy, complied.
Then to the chapel went the sire,
Where ever burnt the sacred fire,
And first, in order due, with sips
Of water purified his lips:
To Visvakarmá, then he prayed,
His hospitable feast to aid:
'Let Vis'vakarmá hear my call,
The God who forms and fashions all:
A mighty banquet I provide,
Be all my wants this day supplied.
Lord Indra at their head, the three [1]
Who guard the worlds I call to me:
A mighty host this day I feed,
Be now supplied my every need.
Let all the streams that eastward go,
And those whose waters westering flow,
Both on the earth and in the sky,
Flow hither and my wants supply.
Be some with ardent liquor filled,
And some with wine from flowers distilled,
While some their fresh cool streams retain
Sweet as the juice of sugar-cane,
I call the Gods I call the band
Of minstrels that around them stand:
I call the Háhá and Huhú,
I call the sweet Vis'vása
I call the heavenly wives of these
With all the bright Apsarases,
Alambushe of beauty rare,
The charmer of the tangled hair,
Ghritáchí And Vis'váchi fair,
Hemá and Bhímá sweet to view,
And lovely Nágadantá too,
And all the sweetest nymphs who stand
By Indra or by Brahmá's hand--
I summon these with all their train
And Tumburu to lead the strain.
Here let Kuvera's garden rise
Which far in Northern Kuru [2] lies:
For leaves let cloth and gems entwine,
And let its fruit be nymphs divine.
Let Soma [3] give the noblest food
To feed the mighty multitude,
Of every kind, for tooth and lip,
To chew, to lick, to suck, and sip.
Let wreaths, where fairest flowers abound,
Spring from the trees that bloom around.
Each sort of wine to woo the taste,
And meats of every kind be placed.'
   Thus spake the hermit sulf-restrained,
With proper tone by rules ordained,
On deepest meditation bent,
In holy might predominent.
Then as with hands in reverence raised
Absorbed in thought he eastward gazed,
The deities be thus addreased
Came each in semblance manifest.
Delicious gales that cooled the frame
From Malaya and Dardar came,
That kissed those scented hills and threw
Auspicious fragrance where they blew.
Then falling fast in sweetest showers
Came from the sky immortal flowers,
And all the airy region round
With heavenly drums was made to sound.
Then breathed a soft celestial breeze,
Then danced the bright Apsarases,
The minstrels and the Gods advanced,
And warbling lutes the soul entranced.
The earth and sky that music filled,
And through each ear it softly thrilled,
As from the heavenly quills it fell
With time and tune attempered well.
Soon as the minstrels ceased to play
And airs celestial died away.
The troops of Bharat saw amazed
What Vis'vakarmá's art had raised.
On every side, five leagues around,
All smooth and level lay the ground,
With fresh green grass that charmed the sight
Like sapphires blent with lazulite.
There the Wood-apple hung the head,
The Mango and the Citron glowed
The Bel and scented Jak were there,
And Amlá with fruitage fair.
There, brought from Northern Kuru, stood
Rich in delights, the glorious wood,
And many a stream was seen to glide
With flowering trees along its side.
There mansions rose with four wide halls,
And elephants and chargers' stalls,
And many a house of royal state,
Triumphal are and bannered gate.
With noble doorways, sought the sky,
Like a pale cloud, a palace high,
Which far and wide rare fragrance shed,
With wreaths of white engarlanded.
Square was its shape, its halls were wide,
With many a seat and couch supplied,
Drink of all kinds, and every meat
Such as celestial Gods might eat.
Then at the bidding of the seer
Kaikeyis strong-armed son drew near.
And passed within that fair abode
Which with the noblest jewels glowed.
Then, as Vas'ishtha led the way,
The councillors, in due array.
Followed delighted and amazed
And on the glorious structure gazed.
Then Bharat, Raghu's son, drew near
The kingly throne, with prince and peer,
Whereby the chouri in the shade
Of the white canopy was laid.
Before the throne he humbly bent
And honoured Ráma, reverent,
Then in his hand the chouri bore,
And sat where sits a councillor,
His ministers and household priest
Sat by degrees from chief to least,
Then sat the captain of the host
And all the men he honoured most.
Then when the saint his order gave,
Each river with enchanted wave
Rolled milk and curds divinely sweet
Before the princely Bharat's feet;
And dwellings fair on either side,
With gay white plaster beautified.
Their heavenly roofs were seen to lift,
The Bra'hman Bharady'aja's gift,
Then straight by Lord Kuvera sent,
Gay with celestial ornament
Of bright attire and jewels' shine.
Came twenty thousand nymphs divine:
The man on whom those beauties glanced
That moment felt his soul entranced.
With them from Nandan's blissful shades
Came twenty thousand heavenly maids.
Tumburu, Na'rad, Gopa came,
And Sutanu, like radiant flame.
The kings of the Gandharva throng,
And ravished Bharat with their song.
Then spoke the saint, and swift obeyed
Alambusb'a, the fairest maid,
And Mis'rakes'i bright to view,
Ramana, Pundarik'a too,
And danced to him with graceful ease
The dances of Apsarases.
All deplete that by Gods are worn,
Or Chaitraratha's graves adorn,
Bloomed by the saint's command arrayed
On branches in Praya'ga's shade.
When at the saint's command the breeze
Made music with the Vilva trees,
To wave in rhythmic beat began
The boughs of each Myrobolan,
And holy fig-trees wore the look
Of dancers, as their leaflets shook.
The fair Tama'la, palm, and pine,
With trees that tower and plants that twine,
The sweetly varying forms displayed
Of stately dame or bending maid.
Here men the foaming winecup quaffed,
Here drank of milk full many a draught,
And tasted meats of every kind,
Well dressed, whatever pleased their mind.
Then beauteous women, seven or eight,
Stood ready by each man to wait:
Beside the stream his limbs they stripped
And in the cooling water dipped.
And then the fair ones, sparkling eyed,
With soft hands rubbed his limbs and dried.
And sitting on the lovely bank
Held up the winecup as he drank.
Nor did the grooms forget to feed
Camel and mule and ox and steed,
For there were stores of roasted grain,
Of honey and of sugar-cane.
So fast the wild excitement spread
Among the warriors Bharat led,
That all the mighty army through
The groom no more his charger knew,
And he who drove might seek in vain
To tell his elephant again.
With every joy and rapture fired,
Entranced with all the heart desired,
The myriads of the host that night
Revelled delirious with delight.
Urged by the damsels at their side
In wild delight the warriors cried:
'Ne'er will we seek Ayodhya', no,
Nor yet to Dandak forest go:
Here will we stay: may happy fate
On Bharat and on Ráma wait'
Thus cried the army gay and free
Exulting in their lawless glee,
Both infantry and those who rode
On elephants, or steeds bestrode,
Ten thousand voices shouting, 'This
Is heaven indeed for perfect bliss.'
With garlands decked they idly strayed,
And danced and laughed and sang and played.
At length as every soldier eyed,
With food like Amrit satisfied.
Bach dainty cate and tempting meat,
No longer had he care to eat.
Thus soldier, servant, dame, and slave
Received whate'er the wish might crave.
As each in new-wrought clothes arrayed
Enjoyed the feast before him laid.
Each man was seen in white attire
Unstained by spot or speck of mire:
None was athirst or hungry there,
And none had dust upon his hair.
On every side in woody dells
Was milky food in bubbling wells,
And there were all-supplying cows
And honey dropping from the boughs.
Nor wanted lakes of flower-made drink
With piles of meat upon the brink,
boiled, stewed, and roasted, varied cheer,
Peachick and jungle-fowl and deer,
There was the flesh of kid and boar,
And dainty sauce in endless store,
With juice of flowers concocted well,
And soup that charmed the taste and smell,
And pounded fruits of bitter taste,
And many a bath was ready placed
Down by each river's shelving side
There stood great basins well supplied,
And laid therein, of dazzling sheen,
White brushes for the teeth were seen,
And many a covered box wherein
Was sandal powdered for the skin.
And mirrors bright with constant care,
And piles of new attire were there,
And store of sandals and of shoes,
Thousands of pairs, for all to choose:
Eye-unguents, combs for hair and beard,
Umbrellas fair and bows appeared.
Lakes gleamed, that lent digestive aid, [4]
And some for pleasant bathing made,
With waters fair, and smooth incline
For camels, horses, mules, and kine.
There saw they barley heaped on high
The coutless cattle to supply:
The golden grain shone fair and bright
As sapphires or the lazulite.
To all the gathered host it seemed
As if that magic scene they dreamed,
And wonder, as they gazed, increased
At Bharadvája's glorious feast.
   Thus in the hermit's grove they spent
That night in joy and merriment,
Blest as the Gods who take their ease
Under the shade of Nandan's trees.
Each minstrel bade the saint adieu,
And to his blissful mansion flew,
Aiid every stream and heavenly dame
Ktturned as swiftly as she came.


  1. Yama, Varuna and Kuvera.
  2. A happy land in the remote north where the inhabitants enjoy a natural pefection attended with complete happiness obtained without exertion. There is there no vicissitude, nor decrepitude, nor death, nor fear: no distinction of virtue and vice, none of the inequalities denoted by the words best, worst, and intermediate, nor any change resulting from the succssion of the four Yugas.' Sea MUIR'S. Sanskrit Texts, Vol I, p. 402.
  3. The Moon.
  4. The poet does not tell us what these lakes contained.