by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “the palace is filled with the sound of distress” and represents Chapter 65 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].
The night having passed, at dawn, according to custom, the bards arrived at the palace of the king, the traditional singers, those versed in rhetoric and in the history of the dynasty, and skilled musicians acquainted with rhythm and melody, began to sing the praises of the king. The sound of their eulogies and their songs filled the whole palace. Others uttering tributes and clapping their hands recited the monarch’s wonderful deeds. The birds in the trees near the palace and those confined in cages awoke and sang. Their notes mingled with the salutations of the brahmins, the music of the vinas, the chanting of the holy names of God and the praises of those describing the great deeds of the king. Eunuchs and servants stood near, ready to serve, as was their wont. Those who attended to the ablutions of the king, brought water scented with fragrant perfumes, in pitchers of gold. Charming and well-attired men and women came with oil, unguents, mirrors, combs, towels and other articles and all that was needed by the king was provided according to custom. Till sunrise, all awaited the king, then they addressed each other saying: “How is this, has his majesty not yet risen?” Then the women, other than Kaushalya, who formerly attended on the king, began to waken their lord as was their usage. Having with affection and skill touched the body of the monarch, they found no sign of life in him. Then the women, knowing well the motion of the pulse and understanding the signs of sleep, began to tremble perceiving the king’s condition. Fearing that the king no longer breathed, they shook like the narcal grass in the midst of a flowing stream, and slowly became aware that their sovereign had passed away.
The Queens, Kaushalya and Sumitra, overcome with grief on account of the departure of their sons, lay as if dead. Suffering had rendered the chief queen pale and her body feeble. The two queens, their splendour dimmed by sorrow, resembled the stars hidden by douds.
Seeing the two queens lying insensible and the king dead, the women wept aloud in distress.
At the loud wailing of the attendant women, like female elephants bereft of their leader, Kaushalya and Sumitra came to themselves. Touching the body of the king and finding it cold, they fell senseless, crying: “O, My Lord,” “O, My Lord.” Lying on the earth, covered with dust, Queen Kaushalya resembled a star fallen from the skies.
The king being dead, the ladies of the inner apartments beheld the queen lying on the ground like a female naga. The other consorts of the king with Kaikeyi, overcome with grief, fell unconscious to the earth.
The wailing of the women within, and those who now followed them, filled the whole place. The royal dwelling, bereft of joy and filled with the sound of distress, was thronged with afflicted relatives and friends mourning and weeping. The queens stricken with grief, lamenting piteously, like orphans cleaving to their departed parent, clasped the arms of the mighty monarch.