Then came the vultures' mighty king
Where sat the Vánars sorrowing,--
Sampáti, 2 best of birds that fly
On sounding pinions through the sky,
Jatáyus' brother, famed of old,
Most glorious and strong and bold.
Upon the slope of Vindhya's hill
He saw the Vánars calm and still.
These words he uttered while the sight
Filled his fierce spirit with delight:
'Behold how Fate with changeless laws
Within his toils the sinner draws,
And brings me, after long delay,
A rich and noble feast to-day,
These Vánars who are doomed to die
My hungry maw to satisfy.'
He spoke no more: and Angad heard
The menace of the mighty bird;
And thus, while anguish filled his breast,
The noble Hanumán addressed:
'Vivasvat's 1 son has sought this place
For vengeance on the Vánar race.
See, Yama, wroth for Sítá's sake,
Is come our guilty lives to take.
Our king's decree is left undone,
And naught achieved for Raghu's son.
In duty have we failed, and hence
Comes punishment for dire offence.
Have we not heard the marvels wrought
By King Jatáyus, 2 how he fought
With Rávan's might, and, nobly brave,
Perished, the Maithil queen to save?
There is no living creature, none,
But loves to die for Raghu's son,
And in long toils and dangers we
Have placed our lives in jeopardy
Blest is Jatáyus, he who gave
His life the Maithil queen to save,
And proved his love for Ráma well
When by the giant's hand he fell
Now raised to bliss and high renown
He fears not fierce Sugríva's frown.
Alas, alas! what miseries spring
From that rash promise of the king! 3
His own sad death, and Ráma sent
With Lakshman forth to banishment:
The Maithil lady borne away:
Jatáyus slain in mortal fray:
The fall of Báli when the dart
Of Ráma quivered in his heart:
And, after toil and pain and care,
Our misery and deep despair.'
He ceased: the feathered monarch heard,
His heart with ruth and wonder stirred:
'Whose is that voice,' the vulture cried,
'That tells me how Jatáyus died,
And shakes my inmost soul with woe
For a loved brother's overthrow?
After long days at length I hear
The glorious name of one so dear.
Once more, O Vánar chieftains, tell
How King Jatáyus fought and fell.
But first your aid, I pray you, lend,
And from this peak will I descend.
The sun has burnt my wings, and I
No longer have the power to fly.'
385:1 The name of various kinds of grass used at sacrificial ceremonies, especially, of the Ku'sa grass, Poa cynosuroides, which was used to strew the ground in preparing for a sacrifice, the officiating Brahmans being purified by sittihg on it.
385:2 Sampáti is the eldest son of the celebrated Garuda the king of birds.
386:1 Vivasvat or the Sun is the father of Yama the God of Death.
386:2 Book III. Canto LI.
386:3 Das'aratha's rash oath and fatal promise to his wife Kaikeyí.