Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/326

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The aged king, overcome with grief at parting from his son, withdraws from Kaikeyī, and passing the remainder of his days with Rāma's mother, Kauçalyā, finally dies lamenting for his banished son. Rāma has meanwhile lived peacefully and happily with Sītā and his brother in the wild forest of Daṇḍaka. On the death of the old king, Bharata, who in the interval has lived with the parents of his mother, is summoned to the throne. Refusing the succession with noble indignation, he sets out for the forest in order to bring Rāma back to Ayodhyā. Rāma, though much moved by his brother's request, declines to return because he must fulfil his vow of exile. Taking off his gold-embroidered shoes, he gives them to Bharata as a sign that he hands over his inheritance to him. Bharata returning to Ayodhyā, places Rāma's shoes on the throne, and keeping the royal umbrella over them, holds council and dispenses justice by their side.

Rāma now sets about the task of combating the formidable giants that infest the Daṇḍaka forest and are a terror to the pious hermits settled there. Having, by the advice of the sage Agastya, procured the weapons of Indra, he begins a successful conflict, in which he slays many thousands of demons. Their chief, Rāvaṇa, enraged and determined on revenge, turns one of his followers into a golden deer, which appears to Sītā. While Rāma and Lakshmaṇa are engaged, at her request, in pursuit of it, Rāvaṇa in the guise of an ascetic approaches Sītā, carries her off by force, and wounds the vulture Jaṭāyu, which guards her abode. Rāma on his return is seized with grief and despair; but, as he is burning the remains of the vulture, a voice from the pyre proclaims to him how he can conquer his foes and recover his wife. He now proceeds to con-