Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 


When he his heavenly home had found,
The holy men who dwelt around
To Ráma flocked, whose martial fame
Shone glorious as the kindled flame:
Vaikhánasas  1 who love the wild.
Pure hermits Bálakhilyas  2 styled,
Good Samprakshálas,  3 saints who live
On rays which moon and daystar give:
Those who with leaves their lives sustain
And those who pound with stones their grain:
And they who lie in pools, and those
Whose corn, save teeth, no winnow knows:
Those who for beds the cold earth use,
And those who every couch refuse:
And those condemned to ceaseless pains,
Whose single foot their weight sustains:
And those who sleep neath open skies,
Whose food the wave or air supplies,
And hermits pure who spend their nights
On ground prepared for sacred rites;
Those who on hills their vigil hold,
Or dripping clothes around them fold:
The devotees who live for prayer,
Or the five fires  4 unflinching bear.
On contemplation all intent,
With light that heavenly knowledge lent,
They came to Ráma, saint and sage,
In S'arabhaga's hermitage.
The hermit crowd around him pressed,
And thus the virtuous chief addressed:
'The lordship of the earth is thine,
O Prince of old Ikshváku's line.

Lord of the Gods is Indra, so
Thou art our lord and guide below.
Thy name, the glory of thy might,
Throughout the triple world are bright:
Thy filial love so nobly shown.
Thy truth and virtue well are known.
To thee, O lord, for help we fly,
And on thy love of right rely:
With kindly patience hear us speak,
And grant the boon we humbly seek.
That lord of earth were most unjust,
Foul traitor to his solemn trust,
Who should a sixth of all  1b require,
Nor guard his people like a sire.
But he who ever watchful strives
To guard his subjects' wealth and lives,
Dear as himself or, dearer still,
His sons, with earnest heart and will,--
That king, O Raghu's son, secures
High fame that endless years endures,
And he to Brahmá's world shall rise,
Made glorious in the eternal skies,
Whate'er, by duty won, the meed
Of saints whom roots and berries feed,
One fourth thereof, for tender care
Of subjects, is the monarch's share.
These, mostly of the Bráhman race,
Who make the wood their dwelling-place,
Although a friend in thee they view,
Fall friendless neath the giant crew.
Come, Ráma, come, and see hard by
The holy hermits' corpses lie,
Where many a tangled pathway shows
The murderous work of cruel foes.
These wicked fiends the hermits kill--
Who live on Chitrakúta's hill,
And blood of slaughtered saints has dyed
Mandákiní and Pampá's side.
No longer can we bear to see
The death of saint and devotee
Whom through the forest day by day
These Rákshases unpitying slay.
To thee, O Prince, we flee, and crave
Thy guardian help our lives to save.
From these fierce rovers of the night
Defend each stricken anchorite.
Throughout the world 'twere vain to seek
An arm like thine to aid the weak.
O Prince, we pray thee hear our call,
And from these fiends preserve us all.'
   The son of Raghu heard the plaint
Of penance-loving sage and saint,
And the good prince his speech renewed
To all the hermit multitude:
   'To me, O saints, ye need not sue:
I wait the hests of all of you.
I by mine own occasion led
This mighty forest needs must tread,

p. 236

And while I keep my sire's decree
Your lives from threatening foes will free.
I hither came of free accord
To lend the aid by you implored,
And richest meed my toil shall pay,
While here in forest shades I stay.
I long in battle strife to close.
And slay these fiends, the hermits' foes,
That saint and sage may learn aright
My prowess and my brother's might.'
   Thus to'the saints his promise gave
That prince who still to virtue clave
   With never-wandering thought:
And then with Lakshman by his side,
With penance-wealthy men to guide,
   Sutíkshna's home he sought.


235:1 Hermits who live upon roots which they dig out of the earth: literally diggers, derived from the prefix vi and khan to dig.

235:2 Generally, divine personages of the height of a man's thumb, produced from Brahmá's hair: here, according to the commentator followed by Gorresio, hermits who when they have obtained fresh food throw away what they had laid up before.

235:3 Sprung from the washings of Vishnu's feet.

235:4 Four fires burning round them, and the sun above.

235:1b The tax allowed to the king by the Laws of Manu.

Next: Canto VII.: Sutíkshna.