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'Again, O best of kings, give ear:
My saving words attentive hear,
And listen to the tale of old
By that illustrious Bráhman told,
'Of famed Ikshváku's line shall spring
('Twas thus he spoke) a pious king,
Named Das'aratha, good and great,
True to his word and fortunate.
He with the Angas' mighty lord
Shall ever live in sweet accord,
And his a daughter fair shall be,
S'ántá of happy destiny.
But Lomapád, the Angas' chief,
Still pining in his childless grief,
To Das'aratha thus shall say:
'Give me thy daughter, friend, I pray,
Thy S'ántá of the tranquil mind,
The noblest one of womankind.'

The father, swift to feel for woe,
Shall on his friend his child bestow;
And he shall take her and depart
To his own town with joyous heart.
The maiden home in triumph led,
To Rishyas'ring the king shall wed.
And he with loving joy and pride
Shall take her for his honoured bride.
And Das'aratha to a rite
That best of Bráhmans shall invite
With supplicating prayer,
To celebrate the sacrifice
To win him sons and Paradise,  1
That he will fain prepare.

p. 19

From him the lord of men at length
   The boon he seeks shall gain,
And see four sons of boundless strength
   His royal line maintain.'
'Thus did the godlike saint of old
   The will of fate declare,
And all that should befall unfold
   Amid the sages there.
O Prince supreme of men, go thou,
   Consult thy holy guide,
And win, to aid thee in thy vow,
   This Bráhman to thy side.'
Sumantra's counsel, wise and good,
   King Das'aratha heard,
Then by Vas'ishtha's side he stood
   And thus with him conferred:
'Sumantra counsels thus: do thou
My priestly guide, the plan allow.'
   Vas'ishtha gave his glad consent,
And forth the happy monarch went
With lords and servants on the road
That led to Rishyas'ring's abode.
Forests and rivers duly past,
He reached the distant town at last
Of Lomapád the Angas' king,
And entered it with welcoming.
On through the crowded streets he came,
And, radiant as the kindled flame,
He saw within the monarch's house
The hermit's son most glorious.
There Lomapád, with joyful breast,
   To him all honour paid,
For friendship for his royal guest
   His faithful bosom swayed.
Thus entertained with utmost care
Seven days, or eight, he tarried there,
And then that best men thus broke
His purpose to the king, and spoke:
'O King of men, mine ancient friend,
   (Thus Das'aratha prayed)
Thy S'antá with her husband send
   My sacrifice to aid.
Said he who ruled the Angas, Yea,
   And his consent was won:
And then at once he turned away
   To warn the hermit's son.
He told him of their ties beyond
Their old affection's faithful bond:
'This king,' he said, 'from days of old
A well beloved friend I hold.
To me this pearl of dames he gave
From childless woe mine age to save,
The daughter whom he loved so much,
Moved by compassion's gentle touch.
In him thy S'antá's father see:
As I am even so is he.
For sons the childless monarch yearns:
To thee alone for help he turns.
Go thou, the sacred rite ordain
To win the sons he prays to gain:
Go, with thy wife thy succour lend,
And give his vows a blissful end.'
   The hermit's son with quick accord
Obeyed the Angas' mighty lord,
And with fair S'antá at his side
To Das'aratha's city hied.
Each king, with suppliant hands upheld,
   Gazed on the other's face:
And then by mutual love impelled
   Met in a close embrace.
Then Das'aratha's thoughtful care,
   Before he parted thence,
Bade trusty servants homeward bear
   The glad intelligence:
'Let all the town be bright and gay
   With burning incense sweet;
Let banners wave, and water lay
   The dust in every street,'
Glad were the citizens to learn
The tidings of their lord's return,
And through the city every man
Obedienly his task began.
And fair and bright Ayodhyá showed,
As following his guest he rode
Through the full streets where shell and drum
Proclaimed aloud the king was come.
And all the people with delight
   Kept gazing on their king,
Attended by that youth so bright,
   The glorious Rishyas'ring.
When to his home the king had brought
   The hermit's saintly son,
He deemed that all his task was wrought,
   And all he prayed for won.
And lords who saw that stranger dame
   So beautiful to view,
Rejoiced within their hearts, and came
   And paid her honour too.
There Rishyasring passed blissful days,
Graced like the king with love and praise
And shone in glorious light with her,
Sweet S'ántá, for his minister,
As Brahmá's son Vas'ishtha, he
Who wedded Saint Arundhati. 1


18:1 'Sons and Paradise are intimately connected in Indian belief. A man desires above every thing to have a son to perpetuate his race, and to assist with sacrifices and funeral rites to make him worthy to obtain a lofty seat in heaven or to preserve that which he has already obtained.' GORRESIO.

Next: Canto XI: The Sacrifice Decreed.