by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “the tale of the ascetic” and represents Chapter 51 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].
Having spoken thus to that blessed ascetic given to the practice of austerity, who was clad in bark and a black antelope skin, Hanuman added:—
“We entered this cave enveloped in darkness being wholly exhausted with hunger and thirst and overcome with fatigue; having penetrated into the depths to seek for something to eat, we have become distracted on seeing all these marvels so that we have almost taken leave of our senses.
“To whom do these golden trees belong, that shine like the sun about to rise and these pure foods, roots and fruits; these mansions of gold and silver with their windows of gold refined in the crucible and their network of pearls? Who has produced these golden trees covered with marvellous flowers and fruit emitting a delicious fragrance, the golden lotuses that float on the pure waters, the golden fish and the turtles? Are they sprung from your power or do they owe their existence to another? It behoves you to tell us, who are ignorant in the matter.”
Hearing the words of Hanuman, the virtuous ascetic, engaged in the welfare of all beings, replied to Hanuman saying:—“O Foremost of Monkeys, Maya is the name of the magician of great powers, by whom this entire golden grove has been constructed. He who created this enchanting and celestial place was formerly the chief architect of the Giants [i.e., Danavas or Daityas]. Having practised austerity for a thousand years in the vast forest, he obtained a boon from the Grandsire of the World, in virtue of which he attained complete mastery in his art, as well as an absolute control over the materials required therein. Having accomplished everything, that wonderful one, commanding every enjoyment, for a time lived happily in the mighty forest. Thereafter he conceived a great passion for the nymph Hema, whereupon Purandara hurled his thunderbolt at him and slew him.
“Then Brahma bestowed this marvellous forest with his golden mansion on Hema with the perpetual enjoyment of her desires. I, Swayamprabha by name, the daughter of Merusavarni, guard this dwelling belonging to Hema, who, skilled in the arts of dancing and singing, is my dear friend, O Foremost of Monkeys! By her favour, this vast forest has been given into my hands. Now tell me for what purpose and with what motive you have come hither? Why are you roaming in these inaccessible woods? Having partaken of these fruits and roots and drunk of the pure water, tell me all.”