by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “sumantra returns to the stricken city of ayodhya” and represents Chapter 57 of the Ayodhya-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Ayodhya-kanda].
Sumantra hearing fully from the men of Shrangverpira of Rama’s arrival at Prayaga, his meeting and residence with the Rishi Bharadvaja and his journey towards Cittrakuta, bade farewell to Guha and yoking his horses to the chariot, with a sorrowful heart, started for Ayodhya. Speedily passing through flower-laden forests and viewing the rivers, pools, villages and towns, he reached the stricken city of Ayodhya on the evening of the third day. Seeing the silent city, he reflected: “Has the city with its sovereign, men, elephants and horses been consumed by the fire of grief, caused by the separation from Rama?”
Pondering thus, in his swiftly borne chariot, Sumantra reached the gate of the inner city and entered it. There innumerable people rushed towards die chariot and surrounding it, cried: “Where is Shri Rama?” “Where is Shri Rama?” and Sumantra answered: “Having reached the banks of the Ganga, the virtuous Rama ordered me to return, therefore, I have come.” Then the people, finding Rama had crossed the sacred river, their eyes filled with tears, sighing heavily, cried: “O Rama, O Rama!” and all exclaimed with one voice, “Alas! We are deprived of the sight of Rama, we are destroyed 1 We shall no more behold Rama, the distributor of gifts and performer of sacrifices, who sat in our assemblies and who resembled the beautifully adorned Meru mountain 1 Alas! Where is Shri Rama, our protector, acquainted with the need of each and the happiness of all!”
Then Sumantra, proceeding further, heard on every side, through the lattices of the houses the wailing of women mourning for Rama and hearing their lamentations on the royal highway, the charioteer, covering his face, passed quickly on towards the palace of the king.
Descending with all speed from his chariotj he passed beyond the seven gates and entered the royal residence. Seeing Sumantra return alone, the women, seated at the balconies and windows of the palace, seven-stories high, languishing in Rama’s separation, broke into loud lamentations. Exchanging glances, their eyes streaming with tears, in broken accents they gave expression to their grief. He heard, too, the feeble wailing of the queens of King Dasaratha, saying: “What will Sumantra, who went forth with Rama and has returned alone, say to the stricken Queen Kaushalya? Surely the human soul suffers pain and anxiety more readily than joy, since Queen Kaushalya still lives separated from Rama.”
Hearing the words of the queens and weighed down with sorrow, Sumantra entered the residence of the king and passing through the eighth door beheld in the white chamber, the wretched king, disconsolate and wasted with grief on account of his son. Approaching the king seated there, Sumantra making obeisance to him delivered the message entrusted to him by Shri Rama.
The king heard it in silence, his mind agitated with pain and grief and fell unconscious to the earth. The queens, seeing the king fallen in a swoon, lifted him in their arms and covered him with tears. Kaushalya and Sumitra raising the fallen monarch from the ground addressed him, saying: “O You Fortunate One, why dost you not answer the messenger of Rama who has accomplished his arduous task? O King, having exiled Rama, why art you now full of shame? Arise, there is no cause for this distress. O Lord, Queen Kaikeyi is not here, in fear of whom you dost not dare address Sumantra. Speak without fear.”
Thus exhorting the king, Queen Kaushalya fell insensible, her throat choked on account of her grief.
The ladies of the court and the other queens, perceiving Kaushalya lying on the ground lamenting, began to weep aloud. Then all the people of Ayodhya, old and young, hearing the wailing from the inner apartments of the palace, broke into lamentation, as on the day when Rama had left the city.