The Ramayana/Invocation

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Invocation[1]


Praise to Válmíki,[2] bird of charming song,[3]
   Who mounts on Poesy's sublimest spray,
And sweetly sings with accent clear and strong
   Ráma, aye Ráma, in his deathless lay.

Where breathes the man can listen to the strain
   That flows in music from Válmíki's tongue,
Nor feel his feet the path of bliss attain
   When Ráma's glory by the saint is sung!

The stream Rámáyan leaves its sacred fount
   The whole wide world from sin and stain to free.[4]
The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount,
   The lordly Ráma is the darling sea.

Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!
   Glory to him, Prachetas'[5] holy son!
Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight
   The nectar-sea of deeds by Ráma done.

Hail, arch-ascetic, pious, good, and kind!
   Hail, Saint Válmíki, lord of every lore!
Hail, holy Hermit, calm and pure of mind!
   Hail, First of Bards, Válmíki, hail once more!


  1. The MSS. vary very considerably in these stanzas of invocation: many lines are generally prefixed in which not only the poet, but those who play the chief parts in the poem are panegyrized. It is self-apparent that they are not by the author of the Rámáyan himself.
  2. 'Válmíki was the son of Varuna, the regent of the waters, one of whose names is Prachetas. According to the Adhyátmá Rámáyana, the sage, although a Bráhman by birth, associated with foresters and robbers. Attacking on one occasion the seven Rishis, they expostulated with him successfully, and taught him the mantra of Ráma reversed, or Mará, Mará, in the inaudible repetition of which he remained immovable for thousands of years, so that when the sages returned to the same spot they found him still there, converted into a valmik or ant-hill, by the nests of the termites, whence his name of Válmíki.'

    WILSON. Specimens of the Hindu Theatre, Vol. I. p. 313.

    'Válmíki is said to have lived a solitary life in the woods: he is called both a muni and a rishi. The former word properly signifies an anchorite or hermit; the latter has reference chiefly to wisdom. The two words are frequently used promiscuously, and may both be rendered by the Latin cates in its earliest meaning of seer: Válmíki was both poet and seer, as he is said to have sung the exploits of Ráma by the aid of divining insight rather than of knowledge naturally acquired.' SCHLEGEL.
  3. Literally, Kokila, the Koil, or Indian Cuckoo. Schlegel translates 'luscinium.'
  4. Comparison with the Ganges is implied, that river being called the purifier of the world.
  5. 'This name may have been given to the father of Válmíki allegorically. If we look at the derivation of the word (pra, before, and chetas, mind) it is as if the poet were called the son of Prometheus, the Forethinker.' SCHLEGEL.