The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “rama answers bali” and represents Chapter 18 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 18 - Rama answers Bali

Such was the speech, dictated by a sense of duty and his own interests, full of censure and harsh in tone, that Bali, who was mortally wounded, made to Rama. Resembling the sun shorn of its rays or a parched cloud or a fire that has been extinguished, that illustrious King of the Monkeys, endowed with justice and reason, having upbraided Rama with severity, was addressed by him in the following words:—

“O Bali, why dost you inveigh against me like a child, since you are wholly ignorant of the traditions of duty, profit and social convention? Without consulting thine elders, who are held in respect by the brahmins, in your simian folly you have presumed to address me thus, who am filled with good-will towards you.

“This earth belongs to the Ikshvakus, together with its mountains, forests and woods and they have jurisdiction over the wild beasts, birds and men. It is ruled by the virtuous Bharata, who is fixed in his duty and fully conversant with the law, with the proper means to acquisition of wealth and the right pursuit of pleasure and who is ever engaged in repressing evil-doers and recompensing the virtuous. It is the duty of a king to develop the art of government, be established in virtue, be endowed with valour and know how to estimate time and place. We other princes carry out his righteous commands and range the whole earth in our desire to promote the law. When that Lion among Men, Bharata who cherishes equity, rules the entire world, who would dare to commit an injustice? Fixed in our supreme duty, obedient to Bharata’s will, in accord with the law, we put down transgression. You have violated justice and your conduct is condemned by all, lust being thine only mentor, ignoring as you dost the royal path.

“One who pursues the path of duty should regard his elder brother, the one who has given him birth and the one who instructs him in wisdom as his three fathers. Righteousness demands that a younger brother, a son and a virtuous disciple should be regarded as one’s own offspring; even for the virtuous, duty is subtle and not easy to grasp, the soul residing in the heart alone knows what is right and wrong.

“O Heedless Monkey, you are surrounded by irresponsible simian counsellors, who are unable to control themselves, thus it is a case of the blind leading the blind, how canst you learn from them? I am speaking frankly to you; you had no possible right to reproach me in my wrath. Learn now for what reason I struck you down.

“You have acted in opposition to the spiritual law. While Sugriva yet lives, you have had marital relations with Ruma, who is your sister-in-law. O Perverse Wretch, in order to satisfy your lust, you have transgressed the law of righteousness and, O Monkey, since you have not respected your brother’s wife, this retribution has followed you. I see no other means of restraining him who acts contrary to the interests of his subjects and does not conform to the social code but by punishment, O King of the Monkeys!

“Being a warrior of an illustrious race, I am unable to brook your villainy. The man who makes his daughter, his sister or his sister-in-law an object of lust, is punishable by death; this is the law!

“Though Bharata is the supreme monarch, we carry out his behests. How canst you who hast broken the law, escape punishment? He who fails to listen to his instructor in the form of the law, will be judged according to the law by the King.

“Bharata seeks to repress dissolute customs, and we who carry out his commands fully try to bring to justice those who, like you, overstep the boundaries of the law, O Chief of the Monkeys.

“Sugriva is my friend and equal to Lakshmana; it is for the recovery of his wife and kingdom that he entered into a pact of friendship with me. In the presence of his ministers, I pledged my word; how can a man like myself fail to meet these obligations?

“For all these reasons based on the law, you canst judge for thyself, whether your punishment is merited or no. That it is wholly just, you will be forced to admit and, further, that one is bound to help a friend if one acknowledges one’s duty. You wouldst have done likewise if you had followed the law. Two of the verses of Manu are specially devoted to these rules of conduct and are known to the authorities of the law; I have been faithful to them. ‘Those men who, having done wrong, submit to the penalty imposed by the king, are washed free from every stain and ascend to heaven like the good and those who do benevolent deeds. Further punishment or pardon exonerates the thief from his fault, but the king who does not put down vice himself assumes the guilt.’

“My worthy ancestor Mandhata voluntarily underwent a terrible expiation for a monk who was guilty of an offence similar to thine whom he pardoned. Other monarchs, in their folly, have also done wrong, but have practiced penance; it is by this means that passion is subdued. But enough of recriminations! Your death has been decreed in accordance with the spiritual law, O Lion among Monkeys; we are not acting on personal impulse.

“Listen to a further reason, O Valiant Bull among Monkeys; having grasped its significance, you will no longer be able to reproach me. Neither did I follow mine own whim, nor did I act hastily, nor in anger.

“Snares, nets and traps of every kind, either open or concealed, are used to catch innumerable wild beasts, whether they be fleeing in terror, or, unafraid, are standing still. Whether these beasts are maddened with fear or no, they who feed on flesh run them through without pity while their back is turned; it does not seem to me that they are at fault. In this world, even royal Rishis, versed in their duty, indulge in the chase. This is why, with a single arrow, I struck you down while engaged in combat with your brother, O Monkey. What boots it, whether you didst enter into combat with me or no, since you are but a monkey.

“Unquestionably it is kings who dispense the unwritten law and happiness in life, O Best of Monkeys! One should never reproach them, nor address them disrespectfully, nor disregard them; they are Gods who, assuming human form, dwell on earth! But you in thine ignorance of the law, dominated by anger, didst insult me, who have ever conformed to the established tradition of mine ancestors.”

Hearing Rama’s words, Bali, deeply mortified, no longer sought to denounce the son of Raghu, the task of duty now having been rendered clear to him, and with joined palms that King of the Monkeys answered him, saying:—

“Undoubtedly, O First of Men, what you have uttered is truth! To gainsay an eminent personage is not permitted to one who is of common stock. It was in ignorance that I formerly addressed you in disrespectful terms. Do not hold it against me, O Raghava, you who art conversant with the significance and implication of things and devoted to the welfare of all. In the serenity of thine understanding, that nothing disturbs, the working out of cause and effect are known to you. O You whose speech accords with justice and who art conversant with duty, rescue me who am fallen and the first of those to transgress the law.”

In a voice strangled with sobs, Bali, groaning, expressed himself with laboured effort, his eyes fixed on Rama, and resembled an elephant sinking in a morass.

“I am not concerned for myself or Tara or my relatives, as much as for my virtuous son, Angada, of golden bracelets. Beholding me no more, that unfortunate one, who has been so cherished from childhood, will pine away with grief, like a pool whose waters have dried up. He is yet young and his understanding has not yet matured; he is my only son and most dear to me. Tara is his mother, O Rama; do you protect that powerful Angada.

“Show extreme kindness to Sugriva and Angada; be their guardian and their guide, O You who art fully conversant with the laws of righteousness and unrighteousness. What you wouldst perform for Bharata and Lakshmana, do for Sugriva and Angada.

“See that Sugriva does not hold the sagacious Tara responsible for the fault I have committed or fail to treat her with respect. Under your protection, let him govern the kingdom and, living obedient to your counsels, he will attain heaven as well as rule the earth. As for myself, despite Tara’s words, I wished to receive death at thine hands and came forth to enter into a duel with my brother Sugriva.”

Having spoken thus to Rama, the now humble King of the Monkeys became silent.

Then Rama consoled Bali who was still fully conscious and spoke to him in a gentle voice, expressing the essence of spiritual and secular wisdom, saying:—

“Have no anxiety either on our behalf or thine own, O Best of Monkeys. We know what should be done, above all in that which concerns you. He who punishes the guilty and he who is guilty and pays the penalty have both fulfilled the purpose of cause and effect and therefore eschew calamity. Thus, thanks to the punishment that frees them from all taint, they regain their immaculate nature by the very path which paved the way to the penalty.

“Put away grief, bewilderment and fear with which thine heart is filled; you canst not avoid your fate, O Chief of the Monkeys. What Angada was to you, O King of the Monkeys, he will be to Sugriva and myself; do not doubt it.”

The magnanimous Rama, intrepid in combat, uttered these words full of tenderness and benignity, in accord with righteousness, and the dweller in the forest answered him humbly, saying:—

“Pierced by thine arrow, my mind bewildered, I insulted you without knowing what I was doing, O Lord, You whose immeasurable valour is equal to Mahendra’s! Be pacified and pardon me, O Veritable Sovereign of the Monkeys.”

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