The Ramayana of Valmiki

by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597

This page is entitled “rama describes the spring and the sentiments it evokes in him” and represents Chapter 1 of the Kishkindha-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., Kishkindha-kanda].

Chapter 1 - Rama describes the Spring and the Sentiments it evokes in him

Directing his steps towards Lake Pampa, which was covered with lotuses of various kinds, Rama, who was accompanied by Lakshmana, his mind troubled, began to lament. Beholding that lake, his heart was filled with delight, and under the sway of love, he said to the son of Sumitra:—

“O Lakshmana, how beautiful is the Lake Pampa with its pure and limpid waves, its lotuses and flowering water-lilies, its many kinds of trees. Oh 1 How delightful! O Saumitri, observe the Pampa Woods, how pleasant they are to look upon, those magnificent trees resembling crested mountains. I am overwhelmed and stricken with grief on recollecting Bharata’s distress and the abduction of Sita.

“Though my heart is heavy, yet the Pampa lake is still able to charm me, with its ravishing woods luxuriant with every kind of blossom and its fresh and delicious waters. The month of flowering lotuses lends it an extreme beauty; serpents and wild animals frequent it, whilst deer and birds abound. The thick grass, of a deep emerald hue, is sprinkled with different flowers that have fallen from the trees and resembles a bright carpet. On every side the tops of the trees, bending under the weight of their blossom, are wholly hidden by the creepers with their flowering fronds.

“O Lakshmana, it is the season of auspicious breezes and tender love, the fragrant spring month when flowers and fruit are brought to birth on the trees. See how lovely are these flowering woods, O Saumitri, showering down a rain of petals, like water from the clouds.

“In the enchanting valleys on the escarpments, innumerable trees, shaken by the wind, scatter their blossom on the earth. O Lakshmana, see how the breeze, agitating the myriad branches of the flowering trees, seems to play with the blossom that has fallen or is still on the trees. The God of the Wind frolics to the accompaniment of the humming of bees and to the song of the amorous nightingale, desiring, as it were, to make the trees dance. Emerging from the mountain caves, the wind gives forth a kind of music, shaking the trees violently from side to side, causing the extreme tips of their branches to meet, uniting them one with the other. The zephyr with soft caressing breath, diffusing the perfume of sandalwood, dispels all fatigue.

“Agitated by the wind, these trees seem to add their voices to the humming of the bees amidst the soft and fragrant groves.

“On the enchanting mountain plateaus, the crags, whose points touch, resplendent with large trees bearing beautiful flowers, sparkle with beauty, and the trees, tossed by the airy currents that stir them, their crests covered with blossom and crowned with bees, seem about to break into song.

“See, on every side, the marvellous blossoming of the golden Karnikara trees, resembling men robed in silk! This season of Spring, O Lakshmana, with its choir of birds of every kind revives the pain caused by Sita’s absence. In this overwhelming grief, pangs of love torment me. The gay trilling of the cuckoo tantalizes me; the joyful Datyuhaka bird that sings from the waterfalls of the forest increases my pain, O Lakshmana! Formerly when she heard its voice in our hermitage, my beloved, intoxicated with love and happiness, would call to me.

“See how the birds of varied plumage, giving forth every kind of note, seek refuge on all sides amongst the trees, bushes and creepers! The females accompanied by the males flock together according to their kind and rejoice; intoxicated by the Bhringaraja’s exultant cries, they chirrup melodiously. Here, in the home of Sita, the assembled birds are made merry by the joyous song of the Datyuhaka responding to the cuckoo’s call.

“The rustling of the trees rekindles the fire of my love, of which the bunches of the Ashoka blooms are the fuel, the humming of the bees the crackling, and the buds the golden tongues of flame.

“This fire of Spring is consuming me! Nay, far from that lady of lovely eyelashes, beautiful looks and gentle speech, I cannot survive, O Saumitri! The season that brings delight to the woods is the time she loved, and beyond all, she was enamoured of the forest echoing to the call of the cuckoo on every side, O Irreproachable Hero!

“The tender feelings I bear for my sweet One and the delights of Spring that increase them are a burning fire that will soon consume me utterly. I shall not live long separated from my spouse; the beauty of these trees increases the pangs of my love. Being unable to see Sita any more intensifies my anguish, whilst the presence of Spring causes the sweat of desire to break forth on me. Thinking of that lady, whose eyes resemble a doe’s, giief holds me in thrall; the cruel Spring breeze from the woods tortures me, O Saumitri!

“Here and there, peacocks dance, spreading their brilliant wings in the breeze, and their tails, decorated with eyes, resemble crystal lattices. The females surrounding them are intoxicated with desire and this strengthens the love with which I am filled.

“See, O Lakshmana, on the mountain plateau, how the peacock dances and how the peahen, her heart intoxicated with joy, closely follows him 1 He spreads his radiant wings and his cries seem to mock my pain, for in the forest his loved one has not been carried away by a titan and he can dance in these enchanting groves with his tender love. In this month of flowers, in Sita’s absence, my stay here is unendurable 1

“See, O Lakshmana, love is found even among lower animals! At this moment, the peahen is ardently attracted to the steps of the male; even thus would the large-eyed daughter of Janaka follow my steps with renewed love, had she not been borne away.

“O Lakshmana, the flowers that bear down the forest branches with their weight in the autumn will produce no fruit for me and, though so lovely, will fall rotting to the ground with their swarms of bees.

“The birds at this time, in joyous flight, carolling in love, seem to call to one another, invoking deep transports of desire in me. If the Spring also reigns where my loved one, Sita, dwells, who has now fallen under the sway of another, she will be sharing my ardour. Yet if the Spring has not reached that place where she is, how will that dark-eyed lady be able to go on living in my absence? If this season has not come to where my gentle love resides, what will that fair-limbed lady do, who has been overpowered by a mighty adversary? My youthful and beloved consort, whose eyes resemble lotus petals and who is gentle of speech, will certainly yield up her life at the first breath of Spring. In my heart, I feel assured that the gentle Sita will not be able to survive separation from me. Devotion to Vaidehi invades my entire being and my love is wholly centred on her.

“When I remember my gentle love, this caressing breeze, so fresh and cool, earning the fragrance of flowers, is like a burning fire to me. The God of the Wind, who was ever welcome when Sita was present, is to-day a source of pain to me. In her absence, that bird flying through the air emitting cries, the crow now perching on a tree, makes a delightful sound. This winged creature will prove a messenger and bring my remembrance to the mind of the large-eyed Vaidehi.

“Listen, O Lakshmana, to the birds’ intoxicating chorus of love, as they warble in the flowery crested trees. That bee suddenly flying towards the young green shoots of the Tilaka tree, blown by the breeze, is like a lover trembling with desire. The Ashoka tree, that increases the torment of lovers, rises with its plumes of flowers waving in the wind, to tantalize me. Look, O Lakshmana, at the flowering mango trees, resembling those who are distracted by the pangs of love!

“O Saumitri, O Lion among Men 1 See how amidst the magnificent range of trees that grow on the borders of Lake Pampa, the Kinneras wander about on every side 1 Observe those Nalina flowers of subtle scent, O Lakshmana, gleaming on the water like unto the sun about to rise. See the calm surface of the Pampa Lake, fragrant with lotus and blue waterlilies, frequented by swans and waterfowl, and the stamens of the lotus flowers, bright as the dawn, that the bees have scattered on the waves.

“How the Lake Pampa sparkles! Waterfowl abound there in every season; how wonderful are its woodland glades 1 It is enchanting with its herds of elephants and deer, that love to come and bathe in it. The water-lilies rocking on the breast of the limpid waves, the waters whipped by the impetuous wind sparkle with beauty, O Lakshmana.

“Far from Vaidehi, whose eyes are as large as the petals of of the lotus, who ever loved the water-lilies, life has no attraction for me. O Perfidious Kama, now I am no longer able to rejoin her, you seeks to evoke in me the memory of that sweet lady, whose speech was a thousand times sweeter still; it were possible to bear the love I feel for her, if the Spring with its flowers and trees did not increase my torment 1 Those things that enchanted me, when I was with her, in her absence, have no further charm for me. On seeing the petals of the lotus cup, I say to myself: ‘These resemble Sita’s eyes’, O Lakshmana. The fragrant breeze, blowing through the stamens of the lotus flowers and the trees, resembles her breath.

“O Saumitri, see how marvellous is the brilliance of the flowering trunk of the Karnikara on the ridges of the mountain to the right of Lake Pampa. Those ravishing trees with their flowers, stripped of leaves, seem to set the mountain ridges on fire; whilst those growing on the banks of the lake, that irrigates them, give off a delicate perfume.

Malatis, Mallikas, Karaviras and Padmas in flower, Ketaki, Sinduvara and Vasanti trees, Matulinga, Purna and Kunda bushes on every side; Shiribilva, Madhuka, Vanjula, Bakula, Champaka, Tilaka, Nagavriksha, Padmaka, Ashoka with their azure flowers, Lodhra, Simhakesara, Pinjara trees are seen everywhere. Ankola, Kuranta, Shumaka, Paribhadraka, Cuta, Patali, Kovidara, Mucukunda and Arjuna trees spread their blossom on the slope of the mountain. Raktakurava, Ketaka, Uddalaka, Shirisha, Shingshapa, Dhava, Shalmali, Kingshuka, Kurubaka with its red flowers, Tinisha, Naktamala, Candaka, Syandana, Hintala, Tilaka and Nagavriksha, these blossoming trees are entwined with flowering spiked creepers.

“See, O Saumitri, how they crowd together on the banks of Lake Pampa, their branches waving in the wind; the creepers seem to be pursuing each other, resembling lovely women at play.

“The breeze passes through the trees from crag to crag, from wood to wood. Amongst them, some are in full flower and give off a soft fragrance, others, covered with buds, have a sombre air. What sweetness! How pleasant! What blossom!

“Amidst these trees on the borders of Lake Pampa, the bees seem to be resting in the heart of the flowers, staying a moment, then flying off again, quickly alighting elsewhere, greedy for nectar.

“The fortunate earth is heaped with masses of blossom that has fallen on the ground, resembling the covering of a couch. On the mountain sides unrolls a brilliant carpet of gold and red flowers of every kind, O Saumitri. At the end of winter all these trees are now in full flower, O Lakshmana. In this month of blossom, the plants open, vying with each other, and the trees, where the six-legged insects hum, seem to challenge one another, manifesting a great brilliance, their branches crowned with flowers.

“The Karandava bird plunging into the limpid waves, disporting itself with its mate, seems in some way to inspire love. Like that of the Mandakini, the beauty of the Lake Pampa is enchanting; its perfections are famed throughout the world and, in proximity, ravish the heart.

“If I might find my gentle Love once again, and we could take up our abode here, I should not even covet Indra’s realm or regret Ayodhya. Here, on these charming slopes, I should sport with her and neither my thoughts nor desires would lead me away.

“In the absence of my beloved, the trees of these woods, wholly covered with every kind of flower, almost deprive me of my reason.

“Gaze on this lake of limpid waters, O Saumitri, which is covered with lotuses, frequented by the Cakravaka bird, the abode of Karandavas, abounding in pelicans, herons and wild beasts and re-echoing to the warbling of birds; verily Lake Pampa is a paradise! The myriad birds with their delightful antics and the memory of that youthful woman, my beloved, whose face shines like the moon, whose eyes resemble lotuses, all inflame my desire. I, who am separated from Sita, whose eyes resemble the doe’s and the gazelle’s, on seeing them disporting themselves there, am troubled, as it were.

“On that pleasant hillside, filled with flocks of birds, intoxicated with love, might I but see my gentle One, I should be content. O Saumitri, I should certainly live anew if Sita of slender waist were inhaling the auspicious air of Lake Pampa at my side. Fortunate is he, O Lakshmana, who drinks that pleasant air from the woods of Lake Pampa that carries the fragrance of the lotus and dispels all grief.

“How is that youthful woman, whose eyes resemble lotus petals, the beloved daughter of Janaka, able to bear the existence of a slave? What shall I say to that virtuous king, the faithful Janaka, when, in the presence of the people, he asks me if all is well with Sita?

“She who followed me to the dreary forest whither my father had banished me, that Sita, fixed in her duty, where is she, my beloved, now? Separated from her, how, in mine adversity, O Lakshmana, shall I be able to endure life? I am losing my reason! When shall I hear the incomparable voice of Vaidehi again? Though she found nought but misfortune in the forest, yet that youthful woman, in her tenderness, conversed sweetly with me, who was consumed with love, as if she had ceased to be unhappy and was full of joy. How shall I, in Ayodhya, reply to Kaushalya, O Prince, when that venerable queen asks me: ‘Where is my daughter-in-law and what has befallen her?’

“O Lakshmana, return and seek out Bharata, our devoted brother; as for me, I can no longer continue living without the daughter of Janaka.”

Thus did the magnanimous Rama lament, as if deprived of support, and his brother, Lakshmana, in judicious and measured words, answered him, saying:—“O Rama, summon up your courage and be happy, do not grieve, O You, the Best of Men. Those in your condition have nothing with which to reproach themselves and should not give way to despair. Calling to remembrance the grief caused by separation from that being who is dear to you, banish all excessive attachment. In proximity to intense heat, even a damp net catches fire. Though he descend into hell or yet lower, Ravana will in no way survive his deed, O Beloved Rama. Let us first seek out this wicked demon; either he shall yield up Sita or he is lost. Should Ravana descend into the womb of Diti with Sita, I shall slay him if he does not restore her to you. Return to your normal state, My Noble Friend, and throw off these mournful thoughts. Assuredly no success is gained by those who abandon their undertakings without making due efforts. Exertion is a powerful weapon, O Lord, there is no power superior to it. With effort, nothing is impossible in this world. Resolute men do not fail in their pursuits. By our efforts alone we shall recover Janaki. Do not permit thyself to be dominated by your love or your grief; cast it behind you. Hast you perchance forgotten the greatness of your soul, the fixity of your purpose and character?”

Thus spurred on by Lakshmana, Rama, who had allowed himself to be overcome by sorrow, banished his grief and distraction and regained his valour.

Calm and brave beyond imagining, Rama crossed the Pampa that was full of charm, enchanting with its trees of waving branches. When he had explored the whole forest with its waterfalls and ravines, the magnanimous Rama, agitated and overcome with grief, set out with Lakshmana, and with the joyous gait of an elephant intoxicated with Mada juice, the intrepid and magnanimous Saumitri, with rapid strides went on his way serenely, consoling Rama by his fidelity and valour.

As they neared the vicinity of Rishyamuka, the King of the Monkeys observed those heroes of unusual aspect and, despite his courage, trembled but made no move towards them. That magnanimous monkey, who walked with the dignity of an elephant, seeing those two brothers advancing, was filled with extreme apprehension and became distracted with fear.

In their terror at the sight of Rama and Lakshmana, those monkeys concealed themselves in that pleasant solitude, the refuge of the Deer of the Trees.

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