by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “sage bharadvaja entertains the whole army” and represents Chapter 91 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].
Prince Bharata, having decided to remain in the hermitage, the sage invited him to a repast. Shri Bharata said: “O Holy Lord, you have already entertained me with water, fruit and berries, I am wholly satisfied.”
Shri Bharadvaja smilingly answered: “I know you to be pleased with whatever is lovingly offered to you, but, O Prince, I desire to entertain your whole army, it is meet that you accede to my request. O Great Prince, why art you come, leaving thine army at a distance? Why didst you come unattended by thine army?”
Hearing these words, Prince Bharata answered with humility: “O Lord, I did not come attended by mine army, in deference to you. It becomes a king or a king’s son to protect the hermitages of his kingdom! O Lord! I am accompanied by many horses and wild elephants occupying a vast area. Fearing lest they should destroy the trees, the thatched huts and defile the water of the ponds and wells, I came alone, leaving them behind.”
Then the Maharishi Bharadvaja said: “Bring thine army hither.”
Thus commanded, the prince brought his army thither. Entering the sacrificial pavilion, the rishi drank three times of the water there, and reciting a certain formula, sprinkled some on his body. Then invoking Vishvakarma to provide the entertainment, and speaking slowly, he said: “I summon the celestial beings, Vishvakarma and Twashta, let them prepare dwellings for the army. I desire to offer Prince Bharata hospitality, I therefore call upon the deities Yama, Varuna, Kuvera and also Indra. Let them assist me in providing the entertainment. I also summon all the rivers, flowing above or below from east to west and from west to east. Let some of these produce the delicious wine named Maireya and that named Saura, and also cool, sweet water, like the juice of the sugar cane. I summon further the heavenly musicians called Haha and Huhu, together with other divine beings and nymphs. I summon the dancing apsaras, Ghritaci, Vishvaci, Mishrakeshi, Alambusha, Nagadanta, Hema and Soma, who dwell in the Himalayas. I call on the dancing nymphs attendant on Brahma and Indra; let them attire themselves in beautiful apparel, bringing their instruments. I desire the celestial forest Caitraratha to appear here, the leaves of whose trees are formed like beautiful damsels. I desire further foods of many kinds that can be chewed, sucked or licked, and various drinks to be prepared by the deity presiding over the moon. Let garlands of fresh flowers be made ready and beautiful goblets and different dishes of flesh be produced here instantaneously!”
By his yogic power and the proper recitation of the sacred mantras, the holy Sage Bharadvaja produced all that was necessary. Facing the east in the posture of invitation, Shri Bharadvaja sat in meditation for a space. Then, one by one, the gods appeared before him. The cool, slow and fragrant breezes blowing from the Malaya and Dadura mountains, tempered the heat. The clouds rained down flowers and the sound of the divine dundubhis (drums) was heard; delightful zephyrs began to blow, nymphs danced, the celestial musicians sang and the notes of the vina were heard everywhere. The earth and the sky were filled with sweet and harmonious sounds, heard by all living beings. As the divine music continued, Bharata’s army beheld the wonderful structure wrought by Vishvakarma. They perceived the whole area within a radius of four miles, to be covered with a carpet of green and glistening grass sparkling like a green emerald. Its beauty was enhanced by silva, kapitha, amlaki and mango trees. A wood appeared wherein people could wander, also a divine stream flowing between banks adorned by various trees. Beautiful white mansions were erected, with stables for elephants and horses. Palaces with their balconies decorated with leaves and flowers were to be seen, and others adorned with green and flowery sprays and garlands of pure white blossoms sprinkled with scented water. These dwellings contained square courts serving as reception halls with space for palanquins, and coaches. Food of all kinds, rice, the juice of sugar cane and every variety of confection was to be found there, with curry puffs, pancakes and other delicious dishes served in clean vessels, while excellent carpets and seats were spread for relaxation, and couches with spotless coverings and quilts.
Entering these mansions with the permission of the Sage Bharadvaja, Prince Bharata was followed by his servants, ministers and priests who, perceiving all to be well furnished, were highly gratified.
In one of the mansions, a room was set apart containing a throne where retainers holding the canopy and camara were in attendance. Bharata with his ministers, circumambulated the royal dais as if it were occupied by Shri Rama and bowing to it respectfully, Shri Bharata, holding the camara, occupied a lower seat, the counsellors, priests and army commanders assuming positions in accordance with their respective rank.
Now, at the command of the holy sage, streams of milk, thickened with rice, flowed before Bharata’s eyes. Beautiful houses, washed with quicklime, appeared on the river banks. Twenty thousand youthful women, enchantingly attired and wearing beautiful ornaments came there at the instance of Brahma. Kuvera also sent twenty thousand lovely damsels adorned with gold, gems and pearls. Further twenty thousand nymphs from the region of Indra appeared, whose beauty caused men to lose their reason. Narada, Gopha and other brilliant musicians began to sing and play before Bharata, and the celestial nymphs to dance in the presence of the prince, at the rishi’s command. All the flowers most highly esteemed in the celestial gardens among the gods, were seen at Prayaga, through the power of Bharadvaja. The trees applauded, the bahadur tree performed on the cymbals and the pipal danced, through the influence of the sage, and those named devaparna, tala and kuraka assumed the form of dwarfs! Plants by the name of shingsapa [shimshapa?], amalaki and jambu, and twining creepers such as the jasmine and mallika, taking on the shape of women in the hermitage of Bharadvaja, cried out: “O Wine-Bibbers, drink! O Hungry Ones, eat kheeva! Come, fill yourselves with the various kinds of meat!”
Each person was bathed in the cool river and attended by seven or eight beautiful maidens with lustrous eyes, who massaged their body with oil and unguents. Their bath completed, many women dried them with soft cloths and gave them sweetened water, tasting like ambrosia, to drink.
The keepers attended carefully to the horses, elephants, mules, camels and bullocks. Those steeds belonging to the royal stables and ridden by great generals, were fed by the grooms on bundles of sugar cane and parched and sweetened rice, their attendants and mahouts could hardly recognize their charges. The soldiery were now intoxicated with wine and indulging in every pleasure! Each was gratified in whatever he desired; their bodies anointed with sandalwood paste and united with the nymphs in amorous dalliance, they exclaimed: “We will neither go to Ayodhya nor enter the Dandaka forest! Let Bharata live at ease and Shri Rama dwell in the forest!”
Thus did the warriors and grooms express themselves in the state of inebriation, while thousands of soldiers, in exultation, shouted aloud: “Verily, this is heaven!” Running hither and thither with garlands round their necks, innumerable soldiers danced, sang and laughed. Though they had partaken to the full of excellent dishes, sweet as nectar, yet when they perceived fresh articles of food, they could not restrain themselves from eating anew!
Thousands of messengers, servants and the wives of the soldiery, putting on colourfill raiment, displayed themselves with pride. Elephants, horses, camels, deer and birds were fully satisfied; none wanted for anything! No one, in the army of Bharata, was seen in soiled garments or hungry or unkempt, none was seen with an unclean countenance or uncombed hair!
The men beheld countless dishes of mutton, pork, venison and other meats cooked in fruit-juices and fried in butter with cloves, caraway seeds and lentils simmering gently in them. Thousands of vessels were filled with spiced rice, garnished with flowers and flags. All were speechless with wonder on beholding them! Within a radius of five miles, the wells were filled with frumenty (khiva) and cows like Kamadhenu fulfilled every desire! The trees dripped honey and the lakes were filled with the sparkling wine Maireya, and banked with dressed viands such as deer, chickens and peacocks. Hundreds and thousands of dishes were provided, and myriads of vessels filled with curds, mixed with caraway seeds, ginger and other fragrant spices, were served there. Lakes of yoghurt and milk, together with heaps of sugar, were to be seen on the river banks, as also fragrant crushed leaves and unguents with large pots of sandalwood paste, mirrors and towels! An abundance of sandals and shoes were provided, whilst antimony, combs, brushes, parasols, bows and quivers, armour and ornamental seats were placed here and there! Tanks, full of liquid mixed with herbs to promote digestion, were taken to the banks of lakes where descent was easy, and where the people could bathe freely and drink when they pleased! These lakes were filled with pure water, abounding in lotuses and fringed with tender grass of blue and emerald hue; here, resting places for the beasts were also to be found.
Prince Bharata’s companions were astounded at the entertainment provided by the Maharishi Bharadvaja. All passed the night in amusement, as in the garden of Indra!
At dawn, the rivers, celestial musicians and nymphs took leave of the maharishi and returned to their own abode. But Prince Bharata’s followers were still flushed and inebriated, their bodies painted with sandalwood, the flower garlands in heaps like mountains, lying everywhere, scattered and trampled on by men and beasts.