Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 


Sugríva started from his rest
With doubt and terror in his breast.
He heard the prince's furious tread
He saw his eyes glow fiercely red.
Swift sprang the monarch to his feet
Upstarting from his golden seat.
Rose Rumá and her fellows, too,
And closely round Sugríva drew,
As round the moon's full glory stand
Attendant stars in glittering band.
Sugríva glanced with reddened eyes,
Raised his joined hands in suppliant guise
Flew to the door, and rooted there
Stood like the tree that grants each prayer. 1
And Lakshman saw, and, fiercely moved,
With angry speech the king reproved:

'Famed is the prince who loves the truth,
Whose soul is touched with tender ruth,
Who, liberal, keeps each sense subdued,
And pays the debt of gratitude.
but all unmeet a king to be,
The meanest of the mean is he
Who basely breaks the promise made
To trusting friends who lent him aid.
He sins who for a steed has lied,
As if a hundred steeds had died:
Or if he lie, a cow to win,
Tenfold as heavy is the sin.
But if the lie a man betray,
Both he and his shall all decay. 1b
O Vánar King, the thankless man
Is worthy of the general ban.
Who takes assistance of his friends,
And in his turn no service lends.
This verse of old by Brahmá sung
Is echoed now by every tongue.
Hear what He cried in angry mood
Bewailing man's ingratitude:
'For draughts of wine for slaughtered cows,
For treacherous theft, for broken vows
A pardon is ordained: but none
For thankless scorn of service done.'
Ungrateful, Vánar King, art thou,
And faithless to thy plighted vow.
For Ráma brought thee help, and yet
Thou shunnest to repay the debt:
Or, grateful, thou hadst surely pressed
To aid the hero in his quest.
Thou art, in vulgar pleasures drowned,
False to thy bond in honour bound.
Nor yet has Ráma's guileless heart
Discerned thee for the thing thou art--
A snake who holds the frogs that cries
And lures fresh victims as it dies.
Brave Ráma, born for glorious fate,
Has set thee in thy high estate,
And to the Vánars' throne restored,
Great-souled himself, their mean-souled lord.
Now if thy pride disown what he,
High thoughted prince, has done for thee,
Struck by his arrows shalt thou fall,
And Báli meet in Yama's hall.
Still open, to the gloomy God,
Lies the sad path thy brother trod.
Then to thy plighted word be true,
Nor let thy steps that path pursue.
Me thinks the shafts of Ráma, shot
Like thunderbolts, thou heedest not,
Who canst, absorbed in sensual bliss,
Thy promise from thy mind dismiss.'

p. 367


366:1 The Kalpadruma or Wishing-tree is one of the trees of Svarga or Indra's Paradise: it has the power of granting all desires.

366:1b The meaning is that if a man promises to give a horse and then breaks his word he commits a sin as great as if he had killed a hundred horses.

Next: Canto XXXV.: Tárá's Speech.