The prince of men a league away
Saw where the hermit's dwelling lay,
Then with his lords his path pursued,
And left his warrior multitude.
On foot, as duty taught his mind,
He left his warlike gear behind:
Two robes of linen cloth he wore,
And bade Vas'ishtha walk before.
Then Bharat from his lords withdrew
When Bharadvája came in view,
And toward the holy hermit went
Behind Vas'ishtha, reverent.
When Bharadvája, saint austere,
Saw good Vis'ishtha drawing near,
He cried, upspringing from his seat,
'The grace-gift bring, my friend to greet.'
When Saint Vas'ishtha near him drew,
And Bharat paid the reverence due,
The glorious hermit was aware
That Das'aratha's son was there.
The grace-gift, water for their feet
He gave, and offered fruit to eat;
Then, duty-skilled, with friendly speech
In seemly order questioned each:
'How fares it in Ayodhvá now
With treasury and army? how
With kith and kin and friends most dear,
With councillor, and prince, and peer?'
But, for be knew the king was dead,
Of Das'aratha naught he said.
Vas'ishtha and the prince in turn
Would of the hermits welfare learn:
Of holy fires they fain would hear,
Of pupils, trees, and birds, and deer.
The glorious saint his answer made
That all was well in holy shade:
Then love of Ráma moved his breast,
And thus he questioned of his guest:
Why art thou here, O Prince, whose band
With kingly sway protects the land;
Declare the cause, explain the whole.
For yet some doubt disturbs my soul.
He whom Kaus'alyá bare, whose might
The foemen slays, his line's delight,
He who with wife and brother sent
Afar now roam in banishment.
Famed prince, to whom his father spake
This order for a woman's sake:
'Away! and in the forest spend
Thy life till fourteen years shall end'--
Has thou the wish to harm him, bent
On sin against the innocent?
Wouldst thou thine elder's realm enjoy
Without a thorn that can annoy?'
With sobbing voice and tearful eye
Thus Bharat sadly made reply:
'Ah lost am I, if thou, O Saint,
Canst thus in thought my heart attaint:
No warning charge from thee I need;
Ne'er could such crime from me proceed.
The words my guilty mother spake
When fondly jealous for my sake--
Think not that I, to triumph moved,
Those words approve or e'er approved.
O Hermit, I have sought this place
To win the lordly hero's grace,
To throw me at my brother's feet
And lead him to his royal seat.
To this, my journey's aim and end,
Thou shouldst, O Saint, thy favour lend:
Where is the lord of earth? do thou,
Most holy, say, where roams he now?
Then, by the saint Vas'ishtha pressed,
And all the gathered priests beside,
To Bharat's dutiful request
The hermit graciously replied:
'Worthy of thee, O Prince, this deed,
True son of Raghu's ancient seed.
I know thee reverent, well-controlled,
The glory of the good of old.
I grant thy prayer: in this pursuit
I know thy heart is resolute.
'Tis for thy sake those words I said
That wider still thy fame may spread.
I know where Ráma, duty-tried,
His brother, and his wife abide.
Where Chitrakúta's heights arise
Thy brother Ráma's dwelling lies.
Go thither with the morning's light,
And stay with all thy lords tonight:
For I would show thee honour high,
And do not thou my wish deny.'