The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “bali reproaches rama” and represents Chapter 17 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 17 - Bali reproaches Rama

Struck by Rama’s arrow, that doughty warrior fell to the earth, like a tree severed by an axe. With his ornaments of fine gold, his limbs paralysed, he sank to the ground, like the banner of the Chief of the Gods, its cord severed.

At the fall of the King of the Monkeys, the earth grew dark, resembling the firmament bereft of the moon. Though lying on the earth, the body of that high-souled Bah was neither robbed of its beauty nor of its life’s breath, nor did his courage fail him, for that excellent golden necklace that Indra had bestowed on him preserved the life, strength and beauty of that Lord of Monkeys. Adorned with that golden chain, the heroic Monkey Chief appeared like an evening cloud tinged with the roseate hues of dusk! His chain, his body and the arrow piercing his heart blazed in triple glory, even after he had fallen. That arrow loosed by the valiant Rama from his bow, by its virtue opening the way to heaven, brought Bali supreme deliverance.

Lying on the field of battle, like a fire without flame, he resembled Yayati cast forth from the divine realms, fallen on the earth, his merits exhausted. Like the sun that Time, at the end of the world, throws down on the earth; unapproachable like Mahendra, inaccessible as Upendra, with his golden necklace, his broad chest, his vast arms, his mouth inflamed, his glances wild, that son of a mighty king lay. And Rama followed by Lakshmana, their eyes fixed upon him, approached that warrior lying there like a naked flame about to be quenched. Full of respect for that hero, who was gazing at them, the two valiant brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, approached with slow steps.

On perceiving them, the supremely courageous Bali uttered these harsh words, that seemed both restrained and just. Stretched on the earth, almost without lustre, mortally wounded, motionless, in words pregnant with meaning he addressed that warrior proudly, saying:—

“Striking me from behind, what merit dost you hope to earn by this, O You who hast inflicted a mortal wound on me, while I was engaged in combat with another?’ The virtuous Rama is full of nobility, generosity and valour; he is compassionate, devoted to the welfare of all beings, fixed in his duty; gracious, omnipotent and conversant with the rules of conduct and austerity; these are the praises sung of you, these are the merits attributed to you by the whole world!

“Self-mastery, forbearance, loyalty, fixity of purpose, goodwill and heroism are the virtues of kings, O Prince, as also the repression of evil deeds. It was reflecting on these virtues, believing them to be thine, that I came to fight Sugriva. ‘Whilst I am filled with rage and engaged in combat with another, he will not attack me’ was my conviction, even without knowing you. Now I perceive that you are a perverse creature, feigning piety whilst in truth you are like a well concealed in the grass, without faith and resorting to evil deeds. Outwardly virtuous, wearing the cloak of integrity, you are in reality a scoundrel, like a fire bidden by ashes, nor do I recognize you behind the concealing mask of virtue.

“Since I have neither laid waste your land, nor your city and have not offered you insult, why hast you destroyed me—I who am guiltless and who have ever fed on fruit and roots, a monkey dwelling in the forest, who never sought to enter into combat with you but who was engaged in fighting another? You are the son of a king and inspired confidence by your benign aspect and, what is more, you wearest the livery of sanctity; who of the warrior caste, conversant with what is good and evil, in the garb of a righteous man, would commit such a wicked deed?

“You are born of the House of Raghu and art spoken of as virtuous, how canst you, assuming the guise of an ascetic, wander about thus? Equanimity of soul, liberality, forbearance, justice, loyalty, constancy and courage are the characteristics of a king, O Prince, also the meting out of punishment to the guilty.

“We live in the forest, O Rama, and are but wild beasts who feed on roots and fruits, which is natural to us; but you are a man, O Prince! Land, gold and beauty are the causes of discord, but here in the woods, who will envy us fruit and roots? In temporal and spiritual matters, as well as in the dispensing of reward and punishment, a king should be wholly given up to the task of government and not dominated by any desire for pleasure, but you are consumed by your desires; irascible, restless, disregarding the royal code, your bow is your cherished argument 1 You dost not pursue the path of duty nor does thine understanding concern itself with the interests of the people; a slave to lust, you dost permit your senses to rule you, O Chief of Men. In a word, Kakutstha, you have slain me, who never did you any harm 1 How will you answer in the assembly of the virtuous, having committed this reprehensible deed?

“The regicide, the brahmanicide, the slayer of the cow, the thief and the one who finds pleasure in the destruction of other beings, the unbeliever and the one who weds before his elder brother, all these enter hell. The informer, the miser, the one who slays his friend or defiles his Guru’s bed, undoubtedly descends to the region of evil-doers!

“It is not permitted to the well-born to clothe themselves in my skin, nor may those, such as you, partake of my flesh if they follow the tradition. There are five kinds of animals possessing five nails on each paw that may be enjoyed by the brahmin and the warrior, O Rama. They are the porcupine, the hedgehog, the deer, the hare and the tortoise. O Rama, men of worth will not touch my skin or bones nor eat my flesh.

“Alas! I disregarded Tara, who, sagacious and prudent, offered me sound counsel, but in my folly, overpowered by fate, I did not heed it. O Kakutstha, like a virtuous woman who has married a man devoid of faith, the earth is without a protector, since you are its protector. How canst you be born of the magnanimous Dasaratha, seeing that you are deceitful, mischievous, evil-hearted and treacherous? Having exceeded the bounds of restraint, broken the law of the virtuous and disregarded the goad of justice, that elephant, Rama, has struck me down. Guilty of such an infamy, condemned by the wise, finding thyself in their presence, what will you say?

“That valour that has been so gready vaunted to us who are neutral, I do not see you exercising against evil-doers! If you had fought me openly, O Prince, you wouldst now find thyself in the presence of death, having been slain by me. You didst overcome me by taking me unawares, as a serpent bites a sleeping man, I who was else invincible. You are ruled by evil. In order to gratify Sugriva, you have struck me down.

“If you had first confided your purpose to me, I would have brought Sita back to you in a day. Not only this, but I should have placed that wicked ravisher of your spouse, the titan, Ravana, in your power, a chain round his neck, having laid him low in combat. Even if Sita had been cast into the bottom of the sea or hell itself, I should have brought her back to you at your command, as Vishnu recovered the scriptures that had been borne away by Hayagriva.

“Sugriva would have obtained the throne legitimately on my departure to the celestial realm, whereas now he has acquired it wrongfully, since you have overcome me by craft on the field of battle. As death in this world is inevitable, I hold it as naught but how will you justify your conduct towards me?”

Thus, pierced by an arrow, his features altered, did that magnanimous son of the Monarch of Monkeys speak whilst looking on Rama, who was as radiant as the sun, after which he fell silent.

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