The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LXII: Ambaresha's Sacrifice
As thus the king that youth conveyed,
His weary steeds at length he stayed
At height of noon their rest to take
Upon the bank of Pushkar's lake.
There while the king enjoyed repose
The captive S'unahs'epha rose,
And hasting to the water's side
His uncle Visvamitra spied,
With many a hermit 'neath the trees
Engaged in stern austerities.
Distracted with the toil and thirst,
With woeful mien, away he burst,
Swift to the hermit's breast he flew,
And weeping thus began to sue:
'No sire nave I, no mother dear,
No kith or kin my heart to cheer:
As justice bids, O Hermit, deign
To save me from the threatened pain.
O thou to whom the wretched flee,
And find a saviour, Saint, in thee,
Now let the king obtain his will,
And me my length of days fulfil,
That rites austere I too may share,
May rise to heaven and rest me there.
With tender soul and gentle brow
Be guardian of the orphan thou,
And as a father pities, so
Preserve me from my fear and woe.'
When Vísvámitra, glorious saint,
Had heard the boy's heart-rending plaint.
He soothed his grief, his tears he dried,
Then called his sons to him, and cried:
'The time is come for you to show
The duty and the aid bestow
For which, regarding future life,
A man gives children to his wife.
This hermit's son, whom here you see
A suppliant, refuge seeks with me.
O sons, the friendless youth befriend,
And, pleasing me, his life defend.
For holy works you all have wrought,
True to the virtuous life I taught.
Go, and as victims doomed to bleed,
Die, and Lord Agni's hunger feed,
So shall the rite completed end,
This orphan gain a saving friend,
Due offerings to the Gods be paid,
And your own father's voice obeyed.'
Then Madhushyand and all the rest
Answered their sire with scorn and jest:
'What! aid to others' sons afford,
And leave thine own to die, my lord!
To us it seems a horrid deed,
As 'twere on one's own flesh to feed.'
The hermit heard his sons' reply,
And burning rage inflamed his eye.
Then forth his words of fury burst:
'Audacious speech, by virtue cursed!
It lifts on end each shuddering hair--
My charge to scorn! my wrath to dare!
You, like Vas'ishtha's evil brood,
Shall make the flesh of dogs your food
A thousand years in many a birth,
And punished thus shall dwell on earth.'
Thus on his sons his curse he laid.
Then calmed again that youth dismayed,
And blessed him with his saving aid;
'When in the sacred fetters bound,
And with a purple garland crowned,
At Vishnu's post thou standest tied,
With lauds be Agni glorified.
And these two hymns of holy praise
Forget not, Hermit's son, to raise
In the king's rite, and thou shalt be
Lord of thy wish, preserved, and free.'
He learnt the hymns with mind intent,
And from the hermit's presence went.
To Ambarísha thus he spake:
'Let us our onward journey take.
Haste to thy home, O King, nor stay
The lustral rites with slow delay.'
The boy's address the monarch cheered,
And soon the sacred ground he neared.
The convocation's high decree
Declared the youth from blemish free;
Clothed in red raiment he was tied
A victim at the pillar's side.
There bound, the Fire-God's hymn he raised,
And Indra and Upendra praised.
Thousand-eyed Vishnu, pleased to hear
The mystic laud, inclined his ear,
And won by worship, swift to save,
Long life to S'unahs'epha gave.
The King in bounteous measure gained
The fruit of sacrifice ordained,
By grace of Him who rules the skies,
Lord Indra of the thousand eyes.
And Vis'vámitra evermore.
Pursued his task on Pushkar's shore
Until a thousand years had past
In fierce austerity and fast.