The Ramayana

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

This page describes Chapter IV 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.

When Rāma had obtained his kingdom that worshipful sage, Vālmīki, composed the entire history (of that hero in) excellent metre and fraught with high meaning.

The saint recited twenty-four thousand ślokas; and it consists of five hundred sections, and is divided into six Kāṇḍas with the Uttara.

And having composed it, including as well future incidents to happen afterwards, that lord relected [reflected?] as to who should publish the same before assemblies.

And as that great sage of purified soul was thus pounding, in came Kuśi and Lava, in the guise of the sons of ascetics, and touched his feet.

And he found those illustrious princes the brothers Kuśi and lava, knowing morality, and living in a hermitage, and endowed with rythmic voice, well versed in the Vedas. And finding them of a retentive endowment, and initiated into Vedic studies, that lord thought them how to interpret the Vedas, and that vow-observing one taught them the great Rāmāyaṇa in full, treating of Sītā’s great life, and the destruction of Paulastya (Rāvaṇa).

Those sweet-voiced brothers, resembling Gandharvas in grace, accomplished in music and dancing, and cognizant of Sthāna and Mūrchanā, began to time to the accompaniment of stringed instruments, and fraught with the sentiments of love, pathos, risibility, the irascible, the terrible, and the heroic. And knowing the characteristics that go to make up the Drama, and gifted with mellifluous voices, those blameless princes, coming from Rāma’s body, and resembling him (like two images of one body, they were two images of made of Rāma’s body).

Even as the reflection of the solar or the lunar disc resembles that disc; got by heart that excellent and moral story in its entirety; and those princes versed in the Fine arts, with a concentrated mind chanted it as they had learnt it, in the assemblies of ascetics and Brāhmaṇas and good men.

Once upon a time, those high-souled and pious ones, furnished with every auspicious mark, chanted this poem in an assembly of ascetics of purified souls. Having heard this music, all the ascetics were seized with surprise, and with eyes flooded with tears, exclaimed, Well done! Well done! And well pleased, those saints cherishing Duty.

Praised the praiseworthy Kuśi and Lava as they sang, saying,—Ah! what charming music! What sweetness of the verses!

All this happened long ago, yet it seems as if we saw it before us. And unified with the theme, both of them singing together sweetly, and at a high pitch, by means of ṣaḍja and the other notes, they entranced the audience.

They two thus went on sweetly singing at a high pitch, praised by those mighty sages priding in their asceticism.

Some one in the assembly pleased with them presented them with a water-pitcher; and some one of high fame, being delighted, made them a present of a bark garment; and some one gave them a dark deer skin and some holy thread.

Some gave a kamaṇḍalu (An earthen or wooden water pot used by an ascetic) and some great saint conferred on them a muñja (grass) made girdle; and some person granted them a bṛsī (The seat of an ascetic), and some a kaupina (a small piece of cloth worn by ascetics.)

Then some ascetic, well-pleased, gave them an axe; and some a saffron, another a casual clothings.

And some, a thread for tying up their matted locks; and some gladly gave a twine for binding faggots with, and some ascetic presented them with a sacrificial pot; and some, a quantity of fire-wood; and some, a seat made of udumbara (The glamorous fig tree). And some exclaimed, ‘Svasti’; and some joyfully cried, “May you be long-lived!” And all those ascetics of truthful speech conferred on them blessings.

The sages said—Wonderful is the story! And, O you accomplished in all kinds of music! beautifully have you chanted and finished this poem, charming ear and heart, and conferring long life and prosperity, which will afford themes to poets.

And admired everywhere, on one occasion those singers were seen by Bharata’s elder brother, in a street of Ayodhyā, sparsely scattered with stalls. And having had the brothers Kuśi and Lava brought under his roof, that destroyer of enemies, Rāma, accorded those ones worthy of honour, a respectful reception. And having seated himself on a throne of excellent gold, in the midst of his brothers and counsellors, that lord, Rāma, beholding both the brothers, handsome and of modest demeanour, spoke to Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata and Śatrughna, saying, Do you listen to the story, fraught with excellent sense and composed in excellent measure, as sung by these ones endowed with the divine afflatus. And then he ordered the singers to begin.

Thereupon causing the down of the audience to stand on end, and ravishing their minds and hearts, they began to sing melodiously and distinctly and in as high a pitch as they could command, and in strains rivalling the notes of a Vīṇā. And that song of their enchanted the ear of that assembly.

Rāma said, Although these Kuśa and Lava, of rigid penances, look like ascetics, yet they bear on their persons the signs of royalty. And, besides, the story conduces to my fame. Do you, therefore, listen to that history fraught with great worth!

And then commanded by Rāma, they began to chant according to the Mārga mode, and Rāma seated in the midst of his court, was drawn to the music, anxious for the perpetuation of his history.

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