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Thus said Vas'ishtha, and again.
To Ráma spake in duteous strain:
' All men the light of life who see
With high respect should look on three:
High honour ne'er must be denied
To father, mother, holy guide.
First to their sires their birth they owe,
Nursed with maternal love they grow:
Their holy guides fair knowledge teach:
So men should love and honour each.
Thy sire and thou have learned of me,
The sacred guide of him and thee,
And if my word thou wilt obey
Thou still* wilt keep the virtuous way.
See, with the chiefs of every guild
And all thy friends, this place is filled:
All these, as duty bids, protect;
So still the righteous path respect.
O, for thine aged mother feel,
Nor spurn the virtuous dame's appeal:
Obey, O Prince, thy mother dear,
And still to virtue's path adhere.
Yield thou to Bharat's fond request,
With earnest supplication pressed,
So wilt thou to thyself be true,
And faith and duty still pursue.'
   Thus by his saintly guide addressed
With pleas in sweetest tones expressed.
The lord of men in turn replied
To wise Vas'ishtha by his side:
'The fondest son's observance ne'er
Repays the sire and mother's care:

p. 221

The constant love that food provides.
And dress, and every need besides:
Their pleasant words still soft and mild,
Their nurture of the helpless child:
The words which Das'aratha spake,
My king and sire, I ne'er will break.'

Then Bharat of the ample chest
The wise Sumantra thus addressed;
'Bring sacred grass, O charioteer,
And strew it on the level here.
For I will sit and watch his face
Until I win my brother's grace.
Like a robbed Bráhman will I lie,  1
Nor taste of food nor turn my eye,
In front of Ráma's leafy cot,
And till he yield will leave him not.'

When Bharat saw Sumantra's eye
Looked up to Ráma for reply,
The Prince himself in eager haste
The sacred grass in order placed.
Him great and mighty Ráma, best
Of royal saints, in turn addressed:
'What, Bharat, have I done, that thou
Besiegest me,  2 a suppliant now?
Thus streched, to force redress for wrongs
To men of Bráhman birth belongs,
Not those upon whose kingly head
The consecrating drops are shed.
Up, lord of men! arise, and quit
This fearful vow for thee unfit.
Go, brother, seek Ayodhyá's town,
Fair city ot supreme renown.'

But Bharat, as his seat he took.
Cast all around an eager look:
'O people, join your prayers with mine,
And so his stubborn heart incline.'

And all the people answered thus:
'Full well is Ráma known to us.
Right is the word he speaks and he
Is faithful to his sire's decree:
Nor can we rushly venture now
To turn him from his purposed vow.'

Then Ráma spoke: 'O Bharat, heed
Thy virtuous friends, and mark their rede.
Mark well what I and these advise,
And duty view with clearer eyes.
Thy hand on mine, O hero, place,
Touch water, and thy sin efface.'

Then Bharat rose: his hand he dipped,
And purifying water sipped:
'Each citizen,' he cried, 'give ear,
Attend, each counsellor and peer.
My mother planned, by me untaught,
To win the sway I never sought:

Ne'er Raghu's son could I despise,
In duty's lore supremely wise.
Now if obedience to our sire
This dwelling in the woods require,
I, till the destined years he spent,
Will dwell alone in banishment.'

The virtuous Ráma, wonder-stirred.
The faithful speech of Bharat heard,
And thus the hero's feelings found
Due utterance, as he gazed around:

'Still to my father's word I hold,
Whate'er he bought, or pledged, or sold:
Ne'er shall his living promise be
Annulled by Bharat or by me.
Not thus my task will I evade,
My exile on another laid:
Most wise was Queen Kaikeyí's rede,
And just and good my father's deed.
Dear Bharat's patient soul I know,
How reverence due he loves to show;
In him, high-souled and faithful found,
Must each auspicious grace abound.
When from the woods I turn again
I with his aid shall nobly reign,
With one so good, of peerless worth,
A glorious lord of happy earth.
Her boon Kaikeyí sought and won.
I, as my father swore, have done:
And O, do thou, my brother dear,
The monarch's name from falsehood clear.


221:1 A practice which has frequently been described, under the name of dherna, by European travellers in India.

221:2 Compare Milton's 'beseeching or beseiging.'

Next: Canto CXII.: The Sandals.