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When wisest Vishnu thus had given
His promise to the Gods of heaven,
He pondered in his secret mind
A suited place of birth to find,
Then he decreed, the lotus-eyed,
In four his being to divide,
And Das'aratha, gracious king.
He chose as sire from whom to spring.
That childless prince of high renown,
Who smote in war his foemen down,
At that same time with utmost care
Prepared the rite that wins an heir. 1b
Then Vishnu, fain on earth to dwell,
Bade the Almighty Sire farewell,
And vanished while a reverent crowd
Of Gods and saints in worship bowed.

The monarch watched the sacred rite,
When a vast form of awful might,
Of matchless splendour, strength, and size
Was manifest before his eyes.

p. 27

From forth the sacrificial flame,
Dark, robed in red, the being came.
His voice was drumlike, loud and low,
His face suffused with rosy glow.
Like a huge lion's mane appeared
The long locks of his hair and beard.
He shone with many a lucky sign,
And many an ornament divine;
A towering mountain in his height,
A tiger in his gait and might.
No precious mine more rich could be,
No burning flame more bright than he.
His arms embraced in loving hold,
Like a dear wife, a vase of gold
Whose silver lining held a draught
Of nectar as in heaven is quaffed:
A vase so vast, so bright to view,
They scarce could count the vision true.
Upon the king his eyes he bent,
And said: 'The Lord of life has sent
His servant down, O Prince, to be
A messenger from heaven to thee.'
The king with all his nobles by
Raised reverent hands and made reply:
'Welcome, O glorious being! Say
How can my care thy grace repay.'
Envoy of Him whom all adore
Thus to the king he spake once more:
'The Gods accept thy worship: they
Give thee the blessed fruit to-day.
Approach and take, O glorious King,
This heavenly nectar which I bring,
For it shall give thee sons and wealth,
And bless thee with a store of health.
Give it to those fair queens of thine,
And bid them quaff the drink divine:
And they the princely suns shall bear
Long sought by sacrifice and prayer.'

' Yea. O my lord,' the monarch said,
And took the vase upon his head,
The gift of Gods, of fine gold wrought,
With store of heavenly liquor fraught.
He honoured, filled with transport new,
That wondrous being, fair to view,
As round the envoy of the God
With reverential steps he trod. 1

His errand done, that form of light
Arose and vanished from the sight.
High rapture filled the monarch's soul,
Possessed of that celestial bowl,
As when a man by want distressed
With unexpected wealth is blest.
And rays of transport seemed to fall
Illuminating bower and hall,
As when the autumn moon rides high,
And floods with lovely light the sky.
Quick to the ladies' bower he sped,
And thus to Queen Kaus'alyá said:
'This genial nectar take and quaff,'
He spoke, and gave the lady half.
Part of the nectar that remained
Sumitrá from his hand obtained.
He gave, to make her fruitful too,
Kaikeyí half the residue.
A portion yet remaining there,
   He paused awhile to think.
Then gave Sumitrá, with her share.
   The remnant of the drink.
Thus on each queen of those fair three
   A part the king bestowed,
And with sweet hope a child to see
   Their yearning bosoms glowed.
The heavenly bowl the king supplied
   Their longing souls relieved,
And soon, with rapture and with pride,
   Each royal dame conceived.
He gazed upon each lady's face,
   And triumphed as he gazed,
As Indra in his royal place
   By Gods and spirits praised.


26:1b The Horse-Sacrifice, just described.

27:1 To walk round an object keeping the right side towards it is a mark of great respect. The Sanskrit word for the observance is pradakshiná, from pra pro, and daksha right, Greek δεξίος, Latin dexter, Gaelic *deas-il. A similar ceremony is observed by tha Gaels.

'In the meantime she traced around him, with wavering steps, the propitiation, which some have thought has been derived from the Druidical mythology. It consists, as is well known, in the person who wakes the deasil walking three times round the person who is the object of the ceremony, taking care to move according to the course of the sun.' SCOTT. The Two Drovers.

Next: Canto XVI.: The Vánars.