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Soon as his bitter words were said,
To Raghu's sons Vibhíshan fled. 1b
Their eyes the Vánar leaders raised
And on the air-borne Bákhshas gazed,
Bright as a thunderbolt, in size
Like Meru's peak that cleaves the skies,
In gorgeous panoply arrayed
Like Indra's self he stood displayed,
And four attendants brave and bold
Shone by their chief in mail and gold.
Sugríva then with dark surmise
Bent on their forms his wondering eyes,
And thus in hasty words confessed
The anxious doubt that moved his breast:
' Look, look ye Vánars, and beware:
That giant chief sublime in air
With other four in bright array
Comes armed to conquer and to slay.'

p. 439

Soon as his warning speech they heard,
The Vánar chieftains undeterred
Seized fragments of the rock and trees,
And made reply in words like these:
'We wait thy word: the order give,
And these thy foes shall cease to live.
Command us, mighty King, and all
Lifeless upon the earth shall fall.'
   Meanwhile Vibhíshan with the four
Stood high above the ocean shore.
Sugríva and the chiefs he spied,
And raised his mighty voice and cried:
'From Rávan, lord of giants, I
His brother, named Vibhíshan, fly.
From Janasthán he stole the child
Of Janak by his art beguiled,
And in his palace locked and barred
Surrounds her with a Rákshas guard,
I bade him, plied with varied lore,
His hapless prisoner restore.
But he, by Fate to ruin sent,
No credence to my counsel lent,
Mad as the fevered wretch who sees
And scorns the balm to bring him ease.
He scorned the sage advice I gave,
He spurned me like a base-born slave.
I left my children and my wife,
And fly to Raghu's son for life.
I pray thee, Vánar chieftain, speed
To him who saves in hour of need,
And tell him famed in distant lands
That, suppliant here Vibhíshan stands.'
   The Rákshas ceased: Sugriva hied
To Raghu's noble son and cried:
   'A stranger from the giant host,
Borne o'er the sea, has reached the coast
A secret foe, he comes to slay,
As owls attack their heedless prey.
'Tis thine, O King, in time of need
To watch, to counsel, and to lead,
Our Vánar legions to dispose,
And guard us from our crafty foes.
Vibhíshan from the giants' isle.
King Rávan's brother, comes with guile
And, feigning from his king to flee,
Seeks refuge Raghu's son, with thee.
Arise, O Ráma, and prevent
By bold attack his dark intent.
Who comes in friendly guise prepared
To slay thee by his arts ensnared.'
   Thus urged Sugríva famed for lore
Of moving words, and spoke no more.
Then Ráma thus in turn addressed
The bold Hanúmán and the rest:
'Chiefs of the Vanár legions each
Of you heard Sugríva's speech.
What think ye now in time of fear,
When peril and distress are near,
In every doubt the wise depend
For counsel on a faithful friend'

   They heard his gracious words, and then
Spake reverent to the lord of men:
'O Raghu's son, thou knowest well
All things of heaven and earth and hell.
'Tis but thy friendship bids us speak
The counsel Ráma need not seek.
So duteous, brave, and true art thou,
Heroic, faithful to thy vow.
Deep in the scriptures, trained and tried,
Still in thy friends wilt thou confide.
Let each of us in turn impart
The secret counsel of his heart,
And strive to win his chief's assent.
By force of wisest argument.'
   They ceased and Angad thus began:
'With jealous eye the stranger scan:
Not yet with trusting heart receive
Vibhíshan, nor his tale believe.
These giants wandering far and wide
Their evil nature falsely hide,
And watching with malignant skill
Assail us when we fear no ill.
Well ponder every hope and fear
Until thy doubtful course be clear;
Then own his merit or detect
His guile, and welcome or reject.'
   Then Sarabhu the bold and brave
In turn his prudent sentence gave:
'Yea, Ráma, send a skilful spy
With keenest tact to test and try.
Then let the stranger, as is just,
Obtain or be refused thy trust.'
   Then he whose heart was rich in store
Of scripture's life-directing lore.
King Jámbaván, stood forth and cried:
'Suspect, suspect a foe allied
With Rávan lord of Lanká's isle,
And Rákshas sin and Rákshas guile."
   Then Maiuda, wisest chief, who knew
The wrong, the right, the false, the true,
Pondered a while, then silence broke,
And thus his sober counsel spoke:
'Let one with gracious speech draw near
And gently charm Vibhíshan's ear,
Till he the soothing witchery feel
And all his secret heart reveal.
So thou his aims and hopes shalt know,
And hail the friend or shun the foe.'
   'Not he,' Hanúmán cried, 'not he
Who taught the Gods, 1 may rival thee,
Supreme in power of quickest sense,
First in the art of eloquence.
But hear me soothly speak, O King,
And learn the hope to which I cling.
Vibhíshan comes no cratty spy:
Urged by his brother's fault to fly.
With righteous soul that loathes the sin,
He fled from Lanká and his kin.

p. 440

If strangers question, doubt will rise
And chill the heart of one so wise.
Marred by distrust the parle will end,
And then wilt lose a faithful friend.
Nor let it seem so light a thing
To sound a stranger's heart, O King.
And he, I ween, whate'er he say,
Will ne'er an evil thought betray.
He comes a friend in happy time,
Loathing his brother for his crime.
His ear has heard thine old renown,
The might that struck King Báli down,
And set Sugríva on the throne.
And looking now to thee alone
He comes thy matchless aid to win
And punish Rávan for his sin.
Thus have I tried thy heart to move,
And thus Vibhíshan's truth to prove.
Still in his friendship I confide;
But ponder, wisest, and decide.'


438:1b This dessertion to the enemy is somewhat abrupt, and is narrated with brevity not usual with Válmíki. In the Bengal recension the preceding speakers and speeches differ considerably from those given in the text which I follow. Vibhishan is kicked from his seat by Rávan, and then, after telling his mother what has happened, he flies to Mount Kailása where he has an interview with Siva, and by his advice seeks Ráma and the Vanar army.

439:1 Vrihuspatí the preceptor of the Gods.

Next: Canto XVIII.: Ráma's Speech.