The Ramayana of Valmiki

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

This page is entitled “bali’s funeral rites” and represents Chapter 25 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 25 - Bali’s Funeral Rites

Full of compassion for Sugriva’s distress and that experienced by Tara and Angada, Kakutstha, who was accompanied by Lakshmana, in order to console them, said:—

“It is not by weeping that the happiness of the departed is assured! Carry out your immediate duty without delay! By shedding tears, you have observed the demands of social convention; it is vain to seek to avoid fate. Time1 is the driving force that orders the world’s events; it is Time that creates all conditions here below. None is the real agent of action and none truly causes action to take place. The world abides by virtue of the dictates of its own inner being. Time is its source, stay and goal. Time does not overstep its own bounds, nor does it suffer decrease. Self-dependent, there is neither kinship nor friendship in it, nor is it restrained by any, nor has it any cause. Assuredly, he who sees clearly is aware of the working of Time. Duty, prosperity and pleasure are subject to Time; it is on this account that Bali attained his own true state. The King of the Plavagas has reaped the fruit of his works, acquired by his merits, through his integrity and liberality. He has attained heaven on account of his observance of duty and he has taken possession of it by sacrificing his life. The Sovereign of the Monkeys has reached the highest state. You have mourned long enough; now perform the last rites.”

When Rama ceased speaking, Lakshmana, the Slayer of His Foes, spoke sagely to Sugriva, who was distraught, saying:—

“O Sugriva, inaugurate the obsequies without delay with the assistance of Tara and Angada. Issue the order that a large quantity of dry wood be gathered together with the sacred sandalwood, for the funeral pyre. Banish indecision; this city depends on you. Let Angada bring garlands and robes of every kind, together with butter, oil, perfumes and all that is requisite.

“O Tara, do you find a palanquin without delay; prompt action is always praiseworthy, the more so at such an hour. Let those who are skilful and strong, accustomed to palanquins, hold themselves in readiness to bear Bali away.”

Having spoken thus to Sugriva, the on of Sumitra, Lakshmana, the Slayer of His Foes, took up his position beside his brother.

Hearing Lakshmana’s command, Tara with a beating heart hastened to the cave, bent on finding a litter, and soon returned with one borne by strong monkeys to whom the work was familiar.

It was indeed magnificent, well-cushioned and resembling a chariot, the sides being marvellously decorated and enriched with carved wooden figures. Resting on wonderful supports, it was gorgeously fitted like a palace belonging to the Siddhas and was furnished with windows and balconies that were spacious and embellished with carvings, a work of extreme artistry. Large and well constructed of wood from the mountain-side, priceless ornaments, strings of pearls and splendid crowns gave it a dazzling appearance and it was covered with clay, painted red and sprinkled with sandal-paste. Festooned with wreaths of lotuses, shining like the dawn, it was strewn with innumerable flowers.

Beholding it, Rama said to Lakshmana:—“Let Bali’s body be placed upon it with all speed and let the funeral ceremony proceed.” Then Sugriva, weeping, assisted by Angada, raised Bali’s body and placed it on the litter. Having laid the corpse on its couch, he covered it with ornaments of every kind together with wreaths and cloths. Thereafter, Sugriva, the King of the Monkeys, commanded that the last rites of his noble brother should be carried out on the banks of a river.

The great monkey leaders preceded the litter, scattering jewels of every kind in profusion. Every honour due to a king of this world was offered by the Vanaras to their lord that day.

Then the funeral rites began immediately, Angada, Tara and the others surrounding the master they had lost. On their side, the women who had lived subject to his authority gathered together crying: “O Hero, O Hero”, thus bewailing the death of their lord.

All the wives of Bali, who had been widowed, with Tara at their head, accompanied their deceased sovereign, lamenting pitifully. Their cries were heard in the depth of the forest and re-echoed through the woods and among the rocks on every side. Then on a deserted sandbank surrounded by water, formed by a torrent issuing from the mountain, innumerable monkeys, inhabitants of the forest, constructed a pyre, and those excellent bearers reverently lowered the litter from their shoulders and all stood round, plunged in mourning.

Seeing her lord lying on the funeral bed, Tara, taking his head in her lap, a prey to extreme grief, began to lament:—

“O Illustrious and Mighty Prince, O My Dear One, look on me! Why dost you not cast a single glance on all those who are plunged in sorrow? You smilest even in death, O Noble Hero, and your countenance resembles the rays of the rising sun! Death, in the guise of Rama, has struck you down, O Monkey! A single arrow discharged by him on the field of battle has made us all widows. Your wives, present here, who no longer know how to leap, O Indra among Kings, have come this painful road step by step on foot, is it not known to you? Dost you no longer love these women whose radiant looks resemble the moon? Why dost you not look on Sugriva, O King of the Monkeys? Here are your counsellors, O Sovereign, also Tara and the others and the leading citizens surrounding you, all plunged in grief. Dismiss your ministers as you were wont to do, O Vanquisher of your Foes, and we will go to the woods with you in happy dalliance.”

Then the women, themselves overwhelmed with affliction, caused Tara to rise.

Assisted by Sugriva, Angada, sobbing, bore his sire to the funeral pyre, his mind distraught with grief, and, igniting the flames according to the traditional rites, keeping his father on his right hand, he circumambulated him, sorrowfully watching him setting forth on his last journey.

Having performed the ritual acts in honour of Bali, that Bull among Monkeys, accompanied by Sugriva and Tara, performed his ablutions.

Associating himself with Sugriva’s loss, the mighty Kakutstha, sharing his grief, officiated at the funeral rites.

The body of Bali, chief of heroes, full of glory, whom that descendant of Ikshvaku had slain with his marvellous arrow, having been cremated, Sugriva, whose splendour resembled a clear flame, approached Rama and Lakshmana who accompanied him.

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