The Ramayana

by Manmatha Nath Dutt | 1891 | ISBN-13: 9788171101566

This page describes Chapter I of the English translation of the Ramayana, one of the largest Sanskrit epics of ancient India revolving around the characters Rama, Sita and Ravana. It was orignally authored by Valmiki at least over 2500 years ago. This is the first book of the Bāla-kāṇḍa (Bala-kanda) of the Ramayana, which consists of 24,000 Sanskrit metrical verses divided oer seven books.

The ascetic Vālmīki asked Nārada, the best of sages and foremost of those conversant with words, ever engaged in austerities and Vedic studies.

Who at present in this world is like crowned with qualities, and with prowess, knowing duty, and grateful, and truthful, and firm in vow.

Who is qualified by virtue of his character, and who is engaged in the welfare of all creatures? Who is learned and capable. Who alone is ever lovely to behold?

Who has subdued his heart, and controlled his anger, is endowed with splendour, and devoid of malice; and whom enraged in battle, do even the gods, fear?

I have great curiosity to hear of such a person. You can, O Maharṣi,[1] know about a man of this description.

Hearing Vālmīki’s words, Nārada, cognizant of the three worlds, said with alacrity, “listen to me”!

Rare as are the qualities mentioned by you, I wifi, O sage, having duly considered, describe to you a person endued with them.

There is one sprung from the line of Ikṣvāku, known by the name of Rāma. He is of subdued soul; and is exceedingly powerful; effulgent; endowed with patience; having senses under control.

He is intelligent; learned in morality; eloquent; crowned with grace; the slayer of foes: broad-shouldered; possessed of mighty arms, a conch-shaped neck, fleshy jaws.

And a broad chest; a powerful bowman; the repressor of foes; having plump shoulder-blades; of arms reaching down to his knees; with a beautiful head, and a graceful forehead; and endowed with excellent might.

And having symmetrical limbs; and of a cool hue; and possessed of prowess; and having a well-developed chest; with expansive eyes; crowned with auspiciousness and favourable marks.

Knowing duty; firm in promise; always engaged in the good of his subjects; of accomplished renown; furnished with knowledge; pure in body and spirit; obedient towards superiors; versed in self-knowledge.

Nāraḍa says—Like Prajāpati himself; blessed with prosperity; protecting all; the destroyer of enemies, and protector of all living beings.

Practising all the duties of his class; and preserving those cleaving to him; versed in the profundities of the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas; accomplished in archery.

Well versed in the dicta of all the sciences; brilliant; gifted with a good memory; the darling of all; unreproved; of unvanquished spirit; proficient in every branch of learning.

Ever resorted to by the good persons even as the ocean is by the rivers; worthy of being honoured; having an equal regard for all; and capable of filling the heart with ever new sensations.

Crowned with all sort of qualities, he enhances the joys of Kausalyā; being like that of the sea in gravity, and that of the Himavat in patience.

In prowess, he is like as Viṣṇu, and boasts of the personal attractions of the Moon. In anger he resembles the fire raging at the time of dissolution; and in forgiveness, he is like that of the Earth.

In giving away, he is like the Bestower of riches Kubera, and in truth, he is like another Dharma. Desirous of doing that which would be acceptable to his subjects, king Daśaratha, from fullness of affection, wished to install as his associate in the kingdom his beloved and meritorious eldest son.

Rāma who of infallible prowess, and endued with sterling virtues, and ever intent on the welfare of the people. The king Daśaratha with great pleasure wished to install as the hair-apparent of the kingdom.

Beholding the provisions of the installation, that lady the king’s consort, Kaikeyī, who had previously been promised two boons, even asked him for those viz., the exile of Rāma, and the installation of Bharata.

Bound by the ties of duty in consequence of his promise, king Daśaratha banished his favourite son Rāma.

In pursuance of his father’s promise, and with the view of compassing the pleasure of Kaikeyī, that heroic one, commanded by his sire, repaired to the forest.

On the eve of his departure for the forest, that enhancer of Sumitrā’s joy and favourite of his brother (Rāma), his dear brother Lakṣmaṇa, endowed with humility, displaying brotherliness, followed him out of affection.

As Rohiṇī followed with the moon, Rāma’s beloved spouse, sprung in Janaka’s line—like as an embodiment of Divine power—sear (Rāma) as life itself, and engaged in acts of good, and furnished with every auspicious mark, and the best of wives, followed Rāma. Having been followed far by his father Daśaratha along with the citizens.

Rāma met with the virtuous and beloved king of the Niṣādas; and then in company with Guha, Lakṣmaṇa, and Sītā, Rāma dismissed his charioteer on the banks of the Ganges at Śṛṅgaverapura.

Then wending from one forest to another, and having crossed many broad rivers, they, in accordance with Bharadvāja’s directions, arrived at the Citrakūṭa; and constructing a romantic abode, the three began to live there.

They spent their days in delight, in the company of gods and Gandharvas. And when Rāma had reached the Citrakūṭa, king Daśaratha, distressed on account of his son, went to heaven, bewailing the latter.

When king Daśaratha had passed away heaven, the mighty Bharata, although pressed by the Brāhmaṇas headed by Vasiṣṭha, to rule the kingdom, did not wish for dominion. And that hero went the forest, with the view of propitiating Rāma.

Having come to the high-souled Rāma, with truth for his prowess, he besought his brother, with every mark of respect.

Bharata said, You are only the king conversant with Dharma. And the exceedingly generous, illustrious and mighty Rāma of a cheerful countenance did not wish for the kingdom, in consonance with his father’s injunction. And having made over to Bharata, as his substitute on the throne, his own sandals, Bharata’s elder brother repeatedly forbade him.

And then Bharata, finding his desire not fulfilled, touched Rāma’s feet, and began to rule at Nandigrāma, expecting the return of Rāma.

And when the auspicious Bharata, firm in his promise and of subdued sense, had gone away, Rāma again perceiving there the influx of citizens and others, eagerly entered Daṇḍaka.

Having entered that mighty vast, the lotus-eyed Rāma slew the Rākṣasa Virādha, and saw Śarabhaṅga, Sutīkṣna, Agastya and Agastya’s brother.

He then, advised by Agastya, gladly possessed himself of Indra’s bow, the inexhaustible arrows, the scimitar, and the quiver.

While Rāma was dwelling there with the rangers of forests, the sages came to him in a body, for the destruction of the Asuras and Rākṣasas.

Thereupon in the presence of those ascetics like the flaming fire, inhabiting the Daṇḍaka forest, he promised to slay those Rākṣasas in battle.

It was while he was living there that, that dweller of Janasthāna, the Rākṣasī Śūrpaṇakhā, capable of assuming any form at will, was disfigured.

It was while living there in the society of the inhabitants of Janasthāna, that Rāma slew in battle the Rākṣasas Khara and Triśiras and Dūṣaṇa, together with their followers, who all had been stirred up by the words of Śūrpaṇakhā. And fourteen thousand Rākṣasas were slain in that battle.

Having leart of the destruction of his relatives, Rāvaṇa wrought into frenzy by anger, sought the help of a Rākṣasa named Mārīca.

And although strongly dissuaded by Mārīca, saying. You ought not to enter into hostilities with that powerful one. Do you, therefore, O Rāvaṇa, excuse me! yet, disregarding those words of his, Rāvaṇa, urged on by Fate, went into that asylum in company with Mārīca.

That one (Mārīca) commanding illusions, having drawn far the king’s sons (Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa), he (Rāvaṇa) carried away Rāma’s wife, slaying the vulture Jaṭāyu.

And beholding the vulture slain and learning of the kidnapping of Mithilā’s daughter, the descendant of Raghu, deprived of sense, bewailed in grief.

Having with unassuaged sorrow burnt the vulture Jaṭāyu, as he was searching for Sītā in that forest, he fell in with a Rākṣasa, Kabandha by name, of a dreadful and deformed shape. Having slain him, the mighty-armed one burnt his body,—and thereupon he went to heaven.

And the Rākṣasa addressed Rāma saying, O descendant of Raghu, Do you repair to the ascetic, Śabarī, conversant with all systems of morality.

Repairing to Śabarī, that destroyer of foes, gifted with exceeding energy, Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, highly honoured by Śabarī.

Than he met with Hanumān on the banks of the Pampā. Then, agreeably to Hanumān’s advice, the exceedingly powerful Rāma saw Sugrīva. And detailed to him all specially touching Sītā.

Then the monkey Sugrīva, having heard all from Rāma was well pleased with Rāma, and in the presence of fire, made friends with him.

Then the king of monkeys, out of friendship, mournfully related to him all about his hostilities with Vālī.

Then Rāma vowed that he would slay Vālī. Thereupon the monkey described to Rāghava the prowess of Vālī, and he feared lest Rāma should not prove a match for Vālī.

And with the view of convincing Rāghava (as to Vālī’s might), Sugrīva showed to him the huge corpse of Dundubhi, resembling a hill.

And looking at the skeleton, Rāma endued with exceeding prowess, smiling the while, with his toe cast it off at the distance of full ninety miles.

With a single mighty shaft he pierced seven palmyra palms, a hill, and the sixth nether worlds, carrying conviction to Sugrīva.

Thus convinced, the mighty monkey well pleased went with Rāma towards the cave called Kiṣkindhā.

And having arrived there, that best of monkeys, Sugrīva of a tawny and golden hue, set up loud roars. And at those mighty sounds, out came the lord of monkeys; and having obtained Tārā’s consent came before Sugrīva for battle. Then Rāghava killed Vālī on the spot with a single shaft.

And, in compliance with Sugrīva’s request, having slain Vālī in battle, Rāghava conferred the kingdom on Sugrīva.

Then that best of monkeys having summoned all the various monkeys, sent them in various directions in search of Janaka’s daughter.

Then at the suggestion of the vulture Sampāti, the mighty Hanumān crossed the salt sea extending for a hundred Yojanas (900 miles).

Thereby arriving at the city of Laṅkā, ruled by Rāvaṇa, he found Sītā in the midst of an Aśoka garden, absorbed in thought.

Then having shown her the sign, he related to her all about the friendship between Rāma and Sugrīva, and having convinced Videha’s daughter, he smashed the gate of the place.

Then having slain five generals, and seven counsellors’ sons, and crushed the heroic Akṣa, he was bound fast (by the armsof Indrajit.)

Then knowing that in virtue of the grand-sire’s boon, he was free, he forgave those Rākṣasas that were leading him (to Rāvaṇa.)

Then having burnt down the city of Laṅkā, with the exception of the place occupied by Mithilā’s daughter, the mighty one returned, with the intention of delivering the glad tidings to Rāma.

That one of immeasurable soul having come before the high-souled Rāma, and circled him addressed him, saying,—I have truly seen Sītā.

Thereafter accompanied by Sugrīva, Rāma repaired to the shore of the mighty ocean, and with shafts resembling the sun, vexed the deep.

Then that lord of rivers, the Ocean, showed himself. And agreeably to the advice of the Ocean, Nala constructed a bridge (over the water.)

By that bridge Rāma went to the city of Laṅkā, and slew Rāvaṇa in battle. And, having recovered Sītā, Rāma experienced high shame (in consequence of Sītā’s having lived so long in Rāvaṇa’s place.)

Language towards Sītā in the presence of all. Incapable of bearing it, the chaste Sītā entered flaming fire.

Thereupon assured by Agni as to the sinlessness of Sītā, Rāma became exceedingly pleased, and was honoured by all the deities. And at that great act of Rāma’s the three worlds with all that was mobile and immobile in them, along with the sages and gods, were well pleased with the mighty-souled Rāghava.

Then installing that foremost of Rākṣasas, Vibhīṣaṇa, on the throne of Laṅkā, Rāma was perfectly easy, and rejoiced exceedingly.

Then Rāma, obtaining a boon from the celestials, revived the monkeys fallen in battle, and surrounded by friends, set out for Ayodhyā on the Puṣpaka.

And repairing to Bharadvāja’s hermitage, Rāma, having truth for his prowess, despatched Hanumān to Bharata.

Then talking over past affairs, accompanied with Sugrīva, Rāma, mounted on the Puṣpaka, and departed for Nandigrāma.

Having arrived at Nandigrāma, the sinless Rāma sheared himself of his matted locks along with his brothers, and having regained Sītā, got back his kingdom

(During his reign) his subjects will enjoy happiness, and contentment, and become hale, and grow in righteousness, and be devoid of mental disquietude and disease, and free from the fear of famine.

Where a no person is to witness his son’s death, and women will be ever chaste, and never bear widow-hood.

And no fear of conflagration (will exercise people), nor creatures be drowned in water. And no danger will come from hunger, or from thieves. And all will live happily as at the Kṛta age.

Having performed with countless gold an hundred horse-sacrifices, and bestowed with due rites ayutas and koṭis[2] of kine on learned persons, and countless wealth on famous Brāhmaṇas, Rāghava will establish an hundred royal families, and will employ each of the four castes in its own duties.

And having reigned for ten thousand and as many hundred years. Rāma will depart for the regions of Brahmā.

He that reads this sacred, sin-destroying, merit-bestowing history of Rāma like that of the Veda itself, becomes cleansed from all sin.

And the man that reads this Rāmāyaṇa conferring length of days, after death, is honoured in heaven, along with his sons, and grandsons, and relations.

If a Brāhmaṇa reads it, he attains excellence in speech; if a Kṣatriya, he will acquire lordship over landed possessions; if a Vaiśya, abundance of wealth in trade; and if a Śūdra, greatness.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

A great saint. The word, however, signifies one belonging to a particular order of saints.

[2]:

Ayuta is ten thousand; and koṭi is ten millions.

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