by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “rama describes the rainy season” and represents Chapter 28 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].
“Now the rainy season is here, see how the heavens are laden with clouds as large as hills. After nine months, the sky, by the action of the sun’s rays, has sucked up the waters of the ocean and is now giving birth to the showers.
“Ascending to heaven by the stairway of the clouds, one might decorate the sun with garlands of Kutaja and Arjuna blossom. The sky appears like one wounded, bound with the rags of moisture-laden clouds, stained with the vivid tints of the setting sun, bordered with red. With the gentle breeze as its breath, the saffron colour lent by the twilight and its yellow clouds, the sky seems like one who is sick with love. Tormented by the sun’s rays, the earth is shedding tears, like Sita racked by grief. Emerging from the heart of the clouds, cool as camphor, redolent with the fragrance of Ketaka flowers, the balmy winds can, as it were, be sipped from the palms of the hands.
“This mountain of blossoming Arjuna trees, planted with Ketakas and anointed by showers of rain, resembles Sugriva freed from his foes. These mountains, that the dark clouds clothe as with antelope skins, catch the rain drops as the sacrificial thread, their caverns filled with the wind lending them a voice; they resemble studious brahmin disciples reciting the holy Veda.
“Whipped by lightning like unto golden thongs, the sky seems to be crying out in pain. The flash that convulses the breast of that sombre cloud is to me like Sita struggling in the arms of Ravana. When covered by dense cloud, the quarters of the sky, so dear to lovers, are blotted out, together with the moon and the stars.
“On the ridges of the mountain, as if drowned in tears, these Kutaja trees in full flower, that sighed for the rain, rekindle love in me in the midst of the grief that overwhelms me.
“The dust has settled and a cold wind blows; the heat of the summer is allayed; the martial undertaking of kings is suspended, and travellers have returned to their own country.
“Now the waterfowl, in their haste to regain the Manasa lake, have left with their dear companions. Chariots and other conveyances no longer venture on the roads, deeply rutted by continuous rain.
“Sometimes visible, sometimes invisible, the sky, sown with clouds, looks like a ocean encircled with hills. The streams carrying away the Sarja and Kadamba blossom assume a yellow hue from the metallic deposits of the rocks and pass swiftly on amidst the cry of peacocks.
“The Jambu fruit, full of savour and gilded like a bee, is pleasant to the taste, and ripe mangoes of many tints fall to the ground shaken by the wind. Clouds like high mountains, having the lightning as their banner and cranes for their garlands, give forth a reverberating sound, like great elephants intoxicated with Mada juice who are about to fight.
“The grassy slopes of those forest tracts, revived by the rain where delighted peacocks dance, gleam brightly under the moon at night. Charged with an immense weight of water, clouds surrounded by cranes emit a muttering sound and in constant movement journey on and on, sometimes resting on the mountain tops. In their joyous circling flight, cranes, in love with the clouds, resemble an enchanting garland of lotus flowers suspended in space at the mercy of the breeze.
“The earth with its fresh grass strewn with tiny ladybirds, looks like a woman, whose limbs are swathed in a bright green cloth flecked with red.
“Sleep falls gently on Keshava; the river runs swiftly to rejoin the sea; the crane is happy to be united with the cloud; fair ones approach their lovers with joy.
“See how the groves are rendered gay by the dance of peacocks and how the Kadamba trees are covered with flowers; bulls, filled with desire, follow the cows and the earth is rendered charming by forests and fields of grain.
“Rivers rush onwards, clouds discharge their rain, frenzied elephants are trumpeting, the woods grow more fair, lovers yearn for their loved ones, peacocks dance and the monkeys have regained their zest for life. Drunk with the aroma of the blossoming Ketaka trees, amongst the thundering waterfalls, the great elephants mix their amorous trumpeting with the peacocks’ cries.
“Flowers, bruised by the downpour, are expelling their nectar, that the bees gaily plundered from the branches of the Kadamba, trees and now it is falling drop by drop. With their abundant fruit resembling ashes, full of savour, the boughs of the Jambu tree are swarming with bees.
“Following the woodland track amidst the hills, the chief of the elephants, hearing the roar of thunder behind him, halts in his tracks, thirsting to fight and, deeming it to be a challenge, turns back in fury.
“Filled now with the humming bees, now with blue-necked peacocks that dance or great elephants in rut, the woods take on a thousand varying aspects.
“Abounding in Kadamba, Sarja, Arjuna and Kandala trees, the forest with the ground saturated with water, resembling wine and the intoxicated peacocks that cry and dance, takes on the appearance of a banqueting hall. The raindrops, like pearls, falling in the folds of the leaves, rest there happily, and the many coloured birds drink of them, delighted by this gift from the King of the Gods.
“The soft humming of the bees, the joyous croaking of the frogs blended with the rumbling thunder of the clouds, resembling the roll of drums, create a veritable orchestra in the forest.
“The peacocks with their richly decorated tails are the choir, some dancing, some calling, here and there clinging to the tops of the trees.
“Roused by the sound of thunder, frogs of different shapes and colour waken from hibernation and whipped by the rain, croak loudly.
“The rivers, frequented by waterfowl, bear away their crumbling banks proud of their speed, and happy in their fullness, rush towards their lord, the ocean.
“Sombre clouds charged with fresh rain melt into each other and resemble the rocks scorched by the forest fire whose bases cohere with those that are equally laid bare.
“Elephants wander in the midst of the charming groves, that are filled with the cries of intoxicated peacocks in the grass sprinkled with ladybirds and planted with Nipa and Arjuna trees. Ardently embracing the lotuses, whose stamens are flattened by the recent showers, the bumble bees eagerly drink the nectar from these and from the Kadamba blossom that has been laid waste. Bull elephants in rut and leaders of kine disport themselves in the forest; the king of beasts bounds through the thickets and the kings of men are enraptured and forget their cares and anxieties whilst the Chief of the Gods is disporting himself in the clouds. Torrents of rain loosed from the sky, causing the seas and rivers to overflow, flood the streams, lakes and ponds together with the entire earth. With sheets of rain falling and the wind blowing with extreme violence, the banks of the rivers are swept away and the waters surge onwards so that the familiar paths can no longer be trodden.
“Like kings bathed by their servants, great mountains stand under the downpour from the clouds, which resemble ewers emptied by the King of the Celestials assisted by the Wind God, and seen thus, stand forth in all their native splendour.
“The sky, overcast with cloud, renders the stars invisible; the earth is saturated with the recent rains and the four quarters are shrouded in darkness. The summits of the mountains washed by the rain sparkle, their great cataracts twisting and falling like strings of pearls. Obstructed in their course by the jutting rocks, these mighty waterfalls precipitate themselves from the heights into the valleys like necklaces of pearls that break and scatter. Those rushing torrents, bathing the lower reaches of the rocky crests, fall into immense chasms, where they find themselves imprisoned and spray, resembling strings of pearls, which celestial nymphs have broken in the violence of their emotions, are scattered in unparalleled showers on every side.
“Only when the birds withdraw to the trees and the lotus closes, whilst the evening jasmine opens, can one divine that the sun has set behind the Astachala Mountain. Kings postpone their warlike expeditions and even the army, already on the march, halts; hostilities cease, for the roads are water-logged. It is the month of Prausthapada, when the brahmins who chant the Veda, the singers of the Sama Veda, begin their studies.
“Sugriva will be listening with joy to the sheets of rain falling, since he has overcome his adversary, recovered his consort and regained his vast kingdom; but I, O Lakshmana, separated from Sita, exiled from my immense dominion, resemble the bank of a river that has been carried away by the current and precipitated into an abyss.
“My grief is without bourne, the rains close every avenue and Ravana appears to me a formidable and invincible foe. Unable to travel on these impassable roads, I wish to make no demands on Sugriva despite his devotion, who after prolonged suffering is reunited with his spouse; I do not desire to press for an interview on account of the urgency of his private concerns.
“As for that, when he has rested and the time is ripe, Sugriva will of himself remember the help he has promised me, there is no doubt of it. Because of this, I wait hopefully, till the rivers and Sugriva are favourable to me, O You who bearest the auspicious marks of royalty!
“A favour obliges a man to show gratitude; the ungrateful who fail to honour an obligation wound the heart of honest men.”
Lakshmana, standing with joined palms, fully concurred with these words to which he listened with extreme respect; then addressing the magnanimous Rama with a joyful air, he said:—
“O Prince, the King of the Monkeys will not delay in carrying out the desire you have expressed! Wait for the autumn and let the rainy season pass, re-affirming your resolution to overcome thine adversary.”