The Ramayana/Book I/Canto LXV: Vis'vámitra's Triumph
Then from Himálaya's heights of snow,
The glorious saint prepared to go,
And dwelling in the distant east
His penance and his toil increased.
A thousand years his lips he held
Closed by a vow unparalleled,
And other marvels passing thought,
Unrivalled in the world, he wrought.
In all the thousand years his frame
Dry as a log of wood became.
By many a cross and check beset,
Rage had not stormed his bosom yet.
With iron will that naught could bend
He plied his labour till the end.
So when the weary years were o'er,
Freed from his vow so stern and sore,
The hermit, all his penance sped,
Sate down to eat his meal of bread.
Then Indra, clad in Bráhman guise,
Asked him for food with hungry eyes.
The mighty saint, with steadfast soul,
To the false Bráhman gave the whole,
And when no scrap for him remained,
Fasting and faint, from speech refrained.
His silent vow he would not break:
No breath he heaved, no word he spake
Then as he checked his breath, behold!
Around his brow thick smoke-clouds rolled
And the three worlds, as if o'erspread
With ravening flames, were filled with dread.
Then God and saint and bard, convened.
And Nága lord, and snake, and fiend,
Thus to the General Father cried,
Distracted, sad, and terrified:
'Against the hermit, sore assailed,
Lure, scathe, and scorn have naught availed,
Proof against rage and treacherous art
He keeps his vow with constant heart.
Now if his toils assist him naught
To gain the boon his soul has sought,
He through the worlds will ruin send
That fixt and moving things shall end,
The regions now are dark with doom,
No friendly ray relieves the gloom.
Each ocean foams with maddened tide
The shrinking hills in fear subside.
Trembles the earth with feverous throe
The wind in fitful tempest blows.
No cure we see with troubled eyes:
And atheist brood on earth may rise.
The triple world is wild with care,
Or spiritless in dull despair.
Before that saint the sun is dim,
His blessed light eclipsed by him.
Now ere the saint resolve to bring
Destruction on each living thing,
Let us appease, while yet we may,
Him bright as fire, like fire to slay.
Yea, as the fiery flood of Fate
Lays all creation desolate.
He o'er the conquered Gods may reign:
O, grant him what he longs to gain.'
Then all the Blest, by Brahmá led,
Approached the saint and sweetly said:
'Hail, Bráhman Saint! for such thy place:
Thy vows austere have won our grace.
A Bráhman's rank thy penance stern
And ceaseless labour richly earn.
I with the Gods of Storm decree
Long life, O Bráhman Saint, to thee.
May peace and joy thy soul possess;
Go where thou wilt in happiness.'
Thus by the General Sire addressed,
Joy and high triumph filled his breast.
His head in adoration bowed,
Thus spoke he to the Immortal crowd:
'If I, ye Gods, have gained at last
Both length of days and Bráhman caste,
Grant that the high mysterious name,
And holy Vedas, own my claim,
And that the formula to bless
The sacrifice, its lord confess.
And let Vas'ishtha, who excels
In Warriors' art and mystic spells,
In love of God without a peer.
Confirm the boon you promise here.'
With Brahmá's son Vas'ishtha, best
Of those who pray with voice repressed,
The Gods by earnest prayer prevailed,
And thus his new-made friend he hailed:
'Thy title now is sure and good
To rights of saintly Bráhmanhood.'
Thus spake the sage. The Gods, content,
Back to their heavenly mansions went.
And Vis'vamitra, pious-souled,
Among the Bráhman saints enrolled,
On reverend Vas'ishtha pressed
The honours due to holy guest.
Successful in his high pursuit,
The sage, in penance resolute,
Walked in his pilgrim wanderings o'er
The whole broad land from shore to shore.
'Twas thus the saint, O Raghu's son,
His rank among the Bráhmans won.
Best of all hermits, Prince, is he;
In him incarnate Penance see.
Friend of the right, who shrinks from ill,
Heroic powers attend him still.'
The Bráhman, versed in ancient lore,
Thus closed his tale, and said no more,
To S'atánanda Kus'ik's son
Cried in delight, Well done! well done!
Then Janak, at the tale amazed,
Spoke thus with suppliant hands upraised:
'High fate is mine, O Sage, I deem,
And thanks I owe for bliss supreme,
That thou and Raghu's children too
Have come my sacrifice to view.
To look on thee with blessed eyes
Exalts my soul and purifies.
Yea, thus to see thee face to face
Enriches me with store of grace.
Thy holy labours wrought of old,
And mighty penance, fully told,
Ráma and I with great delight
Have heard, O glorious Anchorite.
Unrivalled thine ascetic deeds:
Thy might, O Saint, all might exceeds.
No thought may scan, no limit bound
The virtues that in thee are found.
The story of thy wondrous fate
My thirsty ears can never sate.
The hour of evening rites is near:
The sun declines in swift career.
At early dawn, O Hermit, deign
To let me see thy face again.
Best of ascetics, part in bliss:
Do thou thy servant now dismiss.'
The saint approved, and glad and kind
Dismissed the king with joyful mind
Around the sage King Janak went
With priests and kinsmen reverent.
Then Vis'vámitra, honoured so,
By those high-minded, rose to go,
And with the princes took his way
To seek the lodging where they lay.