Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter XLIII - Burning of the city

The goddess added:—

1. Know further, O prince! that you are destined to fall in this great battle, and will have your former realm, presented to you in the same manner as before.

2. Your minister and his maiden daughter will accompany you to your former city, and you shall enter your lifeless corpse, lying in state in the palace.

3. We shall fly there as winds before you, and you will follow us accompanied by the minister and his virgin daughter as one returning to his native country.

4. Your courses thereto will be as slow or swift as those of horses, elephants, asses, or camels, but our course is quite different from any of these.

5. As the prince and the goddess were going on with this sweet conversation, there arrived a man on horse back before them in great hurry and confusion.

He said:—

6. Lord! I come to tell that, there are showers of darts and disks, and swords and clubs, falling upon us as rain, from the hostile forces, and they have been forcing upon us as a flood on all sides.

7. They have been raining their heavy weapons upon us at pleasure, like fragments of rocks hurled down from the heads of high hills, by the impetuous gusts of a hurricane.

8. There they have set fire to our rock-like city, which like a wild fire, is raging on all sides. It is burning and ravaging with chat chat sounds, and hurling the houses with a hideous noise.

9. The smoke rising as heaving hills, have overspread the skies like diluvian clouds; and the flame of fire, ascending on high, resembles the phoenix flying in the sky.

Vasishtha said:—

10. As the royal marshal was delivering with trepidation this unpleasant intelligence, there arose a loud cry without, filling the sky with its uproar (hallahalloo-kola halam).

11. The twanging (tankara) of bow strings drawn to the ears, the rustling (sarsara) of flying arrows flung with full force; the loud roaring (bringhana) of furious elephants, and the shrieks (chitkara) of frightened ones.

12. The gorgeous elephants bursting in the city with a clattering (chatchata) sound; and the high halloos (halahala) of citizens, whose houses have been burnt down on the ground:—(Here dagdhadara Arabic daghdaghad-dar, means both a burnt house and also a burnt wife).

13. The falling and flying of burnt embers with a crackling noise (tankara); and the burning of raging fire with a hoarse sound (dhaghdhaga Arabic daghdagha, Bengali dhakdhak):—

14. All these were heard and seen by the goddesses and the prince and his minister, from an opening of the tent; and the city was found to be in a blaze in the darkness of the night.

15. It was as the conflagration or fiery ocean of the last day, and the city was covered by clouds of the hostile army, with their flashing weapons, waving on all sides.

16. The flame rose as high as the sky, melted down big edifices like hills by the all dissolving fire of destruction.

17. Bodies of thick clouds roared on high, and threatened the people, like the clamour (kala-kala) of the gangs of stout robbers, that were gathered on the ground for plunder and booty.

18. The heavens were hidden under clouds of smoke, rolling as the shades of Pushkara and Avarta, and the flames of fire, were flashing, like the golden peaks of Meru.

19. Burning cinders and sparks of fire, were glittering like meteors and stars in the sky; and the blazing houses and towers glared as burning mountains in the midst.

20. The relics of the forces were beset by the spreading flames of clouds of fire, and the half burnt citizens (with their bitter cries), were kept from flight, for fear of the threatening enemy abroad.

21. Sleets of arrowy sparks flying in the air on all sides, and showers of weapons falling in every way, burnt and pierced the citizens in large numbers.

22. The greatest and most expert champions, were crashed under the feet of elephants in fighting; and the roads were heaped with treasures, wrested from the robbers in their retreat.

23. There were wailings of men and women at the falling of fire-brands upon them; and the splitting of splinters and the slitting of timbers emitted a phat-phat noise all around.

24. Big blocks of burning wood were blown up, blazing as burning suns in the air; and heaps of embers filled the face of the earth with living fire.

25. The cracking of combustible woods and the bursting of burning bamboos, the cries of the parched brutes and the howling of the soldiers, re-echoed in the air.

26. The flaming fire was quenched after consuming the royalty to ashes, and the devouring flame ceased after it had reduced everything to cinders.

27. The sudden outbreak of the fire was as the outburst of house breaking robbers upon the sleeping inhabitants; and it made its prey of everything (whether living or lifeless), that fell in its way.

28. At this moment the prince Viduratha heard a voice, proceeding from his soldiers, at the sight of their wives flying from the scorching flames.

29. Oh! the high winds, that have blown the flames to the tops of our household trees, with their rustling sound (kharakhara) and hindered our taking shelter under their cooling umbrage.

30. Woe for the burning of our wives, who were as cold as frost to our bodies before (by their assuaging the smart of every pain); and whose ashes now rest in our breasts, like the lime of shells, i. e. in the sublimated state of spiritual bodies (sukshma-dehas).

31. Oh! the mighty power of fire, that has set to flame the forelocks of our fair damsels, and is burning the braids of their hair, like blades of grass or straws.

32. The curling smoke is ascending on high, like a whirling and long meandering river in the air, and the black and white fumes of fire, resemble the dark stream of Yamuna in one place, and the milky path of the etherial Ganga in another.

33. Streams of smoke bearing the brands of fire on high, dazzled the sight of the charioteers of heaven by their bubbling sparks.

34. There are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relations and suckling babes, all burnt alive in the livid flames; and here are we burning in grief for them in these houses, which have been spared by the devouring fire.

35. Lo! there the howling fire is fast stretching to these abodes, and here the cinders are falling as thick as the frost of Meru.

36. Behold the direful darts and missiles dropping down as the driving rain, and penetrating the windows, like bodies of gnats in the shade of evening.

37. The flashing spears and flaming fire, flaring above the watery ocean of the sky, resemble the submarine fire ascending to heaven.

38. The smoke is rising in clouds, and the flames are tapering in the form of towers, and all that was humid and verdant, is sucked and dried up, as the hearts of the dispassionate.

39. The trees are broken down by the raging element, like posts of enraged elephants; and they are falling with a cracking noise (kata-kata), as if they were screaking at their fall.

40. The trees in the orchards, now flourishing in their luxuriance of fruits and flowers, are left bare by the burning fire, like householders bereft of their properties.

41. Boys abandoned by their parents in the darkness of the night, were either pierced by flying arrows or crushed under the falling houses, in their flight through the streets.

42. The elephants posted at the front of the army, got frightened at the flying embers driven by the winds, and fled with loud screaming at the fall of the burning houses upon them.

43. Oh! the pain of being put to the sword, is not more grievous, than that of being burnt by the fire, or smashed under the stones of the thundering engine.

44. The streets are filled with domestic animals and cattle of all kinds, that are let loose from their folds and stalls, to raise their commingled cries like the confused noise of battle in the blocked up paths.

45. The weeping women were passing as lotus flowers on land, with their lotus like faces and feet and palms, and drops of tears fell like fluttering bees from their lotiform eyes and wet apparel upon the ground.

46. The red taints and spots of alakavali, blazed as asoka flowers upon their foreheads and cheeks.

47. Alack for pity! that the furious flame of fire, should singe the black bee-like eyelids of our deer-eyed fairies; like the ruthless victor, that delights in his acts of inhumanity.

48. O the bond of connubial love! that the faithful wife never fails to follow her burning lord, and cremates herself in the same flame with him (this shows the practice of concremation to be older than the days of Valmiki and Viswamitra).

49. The elephant being burnt in his trunk, in breaking the burning post to which he was tied by the leg, ran with violence to a lake of lotuses, in which he fell dead. (Here is a play upon the homonymous word "pushkara," in its triple sense of a lake, a lotus and the proboscis of an elephant).

50. The flames of fire flashing like flitting lightnings amidst the clouds of smoke in the air, were darting the darts of burning coals like bolts of thunder in showers.

51. Lord! the sparks of fire sparkling amidst the dusky clouds, appear as glittering gems in the bosom of the airy ocean, and seem by their twirling to gird the crown of heaven with the girdle of Pleiades.

52. The sky was reddened by the light of the flaming fires, and appeared as the courtyard of Death dyed with purple hues in joy for reception of the souls of the dead.

53. Alas! the day and want of manners! that the royal dames are carried away by these armed ruffians by force. (O tempora O mores).

54. Behold them dragged in the streets from their stately edifices, and strewing their paths with wreaths of flowers torn from their necks; while their half burnt locks are hanging loosely upon their bare breasts and bosoms.

55. Lo! their loose raiments uncovering their backs and loins, and the jewels dropt down, from their wrists, have strewn the ground with gems.

56. Their necklaces are torn and their pearls are scattered about; their bodies are bared of their bodices, and their breasts appear to view in their golden hue.

57. Their shrill cries and groans rising above the war cry, choked their breath and split their sides; and they fell insensible with their eyes dimmed by ceaseless floods of tears.

58. They fell in a body with their arms twisted about the necks of one another, and the ends of their cloths tied to each other's; and in this way they were dragged by force of the ruffians, with their bodies mangled in blood.

59. "Ah! who will save them from this state," cried the royal soldiers, with their piteous looks on the sad plight of the females and shedding big drops of their tears like lotuses.

60. The bright face of the sky turned black at the horrible sight, and it looked with its blue lotus-like eyes of the clouds, on the fair lotus-like damsels thus scattered on the ground.

61. Thus was the goddess of royal prosperity, decorated as she was with her waving and pendant locks, her flowing garments, flowery chaplets and gemming ornaments brought to her end like these ladies, after her enjoyment of the pleasures of royalty and gratification of all her desires.