real Epic ends with Rama's happy return to Ayodhya. An Uttara-Kanda
or Supplement is added, describing the fate of Sita, and giving
the poem a sad ending.
dark cloud of suspicion still hung on the fame of Sita, and the
people of Ayodhya made reflections on the conduct of their king,
who had taken back into his house a woman who had lived in the palace
of Ravan. Rama gave way to the opinion of his people, and he sent
away his loving and faithful Sita to live in forests once more.
found an asylum in the hermitage of Valmiki, the reputed author
of this Epic, and there gave birth to twins, Lava and Kusa. Years
passed on, and Lava and Kusa grew up as hermit boys, and as pupils
years had passed, Rama performed a great Horse-sacrifice. Kings
and princes were invited from neighbouring countries, and a great
feast was held. Valmiki came to the sacrifice, and his pupils, Lava
and Kusa, chanted there the great Epic, the Ramayana, describing
the deeds of Rama. In this interesting portion of the poem we find
how songs and poetry were handed down in ancient India by memory.
The boys had learnt the whole of the Epic by heart, and chanted
portions of it, day after day, till the recital was completed. We
are told that the poem consists of seven books, 500 cantos, and
24,000 couplets. Twenty cantos were recited each day, so that the
recital of the whole poem must have taken twenty-five days. It was
by such feats of memory and by such recitals that literature was
preserved in ancient times in India. Rama recognised his sons in
the boy-minstrels, and his heart yearned once more for Sita, whom
he had banished but never forgotten. He asked the Poet Valmiki to
restore his wife to him, and he desired that Sita might once more
prove her purity in the great assembly, so that he might take her
back with the approval of his people.
came. But her life had been darkened by an unjust suspicion, her
heart was broken, and she invoked the Earth to take her back. And
the Earth, which had given Sita birth, yawned and took back her
suffering child into her bosom.
the ancient hymns of the Rig Veda, Sita is simply the goddess of
the field-furrow which bears crops for men. We find how that simple
conception is concealed in the Ramayana, where Sita the heroine
of the Epic is still born of the field-furrow, and after all her
adventures returns to the Earth. To the millions of men and women
in India, however, Sita is not an allegory; she lives in their hearts
and affections as the model of womanly love, womanly devotion. and
a wife's noble self -abnegation.
portions translated in this Book form the whole or portions of Sections
xcii., xciii., xciv., and xcvii. of Book vii, of the original text.
Years have passed; the lonely Rama in his joyless palace reigned,
And for righteous duty yearning, Aswa-medha rite ordained,
a steed of darkest sable with the valiant Lakshman sent,
And with troops and faithful courtiers to Naimisha's forest went.
was far Naimisha's forest by the limpid Gumti's shom.
Monarchs came and warlike chieftains, Brahmans versed in sacred
with each friend and kinsman served them with the choicest food,
Proud retainers by each chieftain and each crownéd monarch
and stately mansions were for royal guests assigned,
Peaceful homes for learnéd Brahmans were with trees umbrageous
were made unto the needy, cloth by skilful weavers wrought,
Ere the suppliants spake their wishes, ere they shaped their inmost
unto the helpless widow, to the orphan wealth and gold,
Gifts they gave to holy Brahmans, shelter to the weak and old,
to the grateful people crowding by their monarch's door,
Food and drink unto the hungry, home unto the orphan poor.
rishis had not witnessed feast like this in any land,
Bright Immortals in their bounty blest not with a kinder hand,
the year and circling seasons lasted Rama's sacred feast,
And the untold wealth of Rama by his kindly gifts increased!
VALMIKI AND HIS PUPILS
Foremost midst the gathered Sages to the holy yajna came
Deathless Bard of Lay Immortal--Saint Valmiki rich in fame,
the humble homes of rishis, on the confines of the wood,
Cottage of the Saint Valmiki in the shady garden stood.
and berries from the jungle, water from the crystal spring,
With a careful hand Valmiki did unto his cottage bring,
he spake to gentle Lava, Kusa child of righteous fame,
Sita's sons, as youthful hermits to the sacred feast they came:
your voices, righteous pupils, and your richest music lend,
Sing the Lay of Ramayana from the first unto the end,
it to the holy Brahman, to the warrior fair and tall,
In the crowded street and pathway, in the monarch's palace hall,
it by the door of Rama,--he ordains this mighty feast,
Sing it to the royal ladies,--they shall to the story list,
from day to day unwearied, in this sacrificial site,
Chant to all the gathered nations Rama's deeds of matchless might,
this store of fruits and berries will allay your thirst and toil,
Gentle children of the forest, unknown strangers in this soil!
cantos of the Epic, morn to night, recite each day,
Till from end to end is chanted Ramayana's deathless Lay,
no alms, receive no riches, nor of your misfortunes tell,
Useless unto us is bounty who in darksome forests dwell,
of the wood and mountain, cruel fortune clouds your birth,
Stainless virtue be your shelter, virtue be your wealth on earth!
the royal Rama questions and your lineage seeks to know,
Say,--Valmiki is our Teacher and our Sire on earth below,
your harps to notes of rapture and your softest accents lend,
With the music of the poet music of your voices blend,
unto the mighty monarch, bow to Rama fair and tall,
He is father of his subjects, he is lord of creatures all!"
RECITAL OF THE RAMAYANA
When the silent night was ended, and their pure ablutions done,
Joyous went the minstrel brothers, and their lofty lay begun,
to the hermit minstrels lent a monarch's willing car,
Blended with the simple music dulcet was the lay to hear,
so sweet the chanted accents, Rama's inmost soul was stirred,
With his royal guests and courtiers still the deathless lay he heard!
versed in old Puranas, Brahmans skilled in pious rite,
Minstrels deep in lore of music, poets fired by heavenly might,
of the constellations, min'sters of the festive day,
Men of science and of logic, bards who sang the ancient lay,
skilled and merry dancers who the festive joy prolong
Hushed and silent in their wonder listed to the wondrous song!
as poured the flood of music through the bright and livelong day,
Eyes and ears and hearts insatiate drank the nectar of the lay,
the eager people whispered: "See the boys, how like our king
As two drops of limpid water from the parent bubble spring!
the boys no hermit-children, in the hermit's garments clad,
We would deem them Rama's image,--Rama as a youthful lad!"
cantos of the Epic thus the youthful minstrels sung,
And the voice of stringéd music through the Epic rolled along,
spake Rama in his wonder: "Scarce I know who these may be,
Eighteen thousand golden pieces be the children -minstrels' fee!"
so," answered thus the children, "we in darksome forests
Gold and silver, bounteous monarch, forest life beseem not well!"
children!" uttered Rama, "dear to me the words you say,
Tell me who composed this Epic,--Father of this deathless Lay?"
Valmiki," spake the minstrels, "framed the great immortal
Four and twenty thousand verses to this noble Lay belong,
tales of deathless virtue sanctify his sacred line,
And five hundred glorious cantos in this glorious Epic shine,
six Books of mighty splendour was the poet's task begun,
With a seventh Book, supplemental is the poet's labour done,
thy matchless deeds, O monarch, in this Lay will brighter shine,
List to us from first to ending if thy royal heart incline!"
it so," thus Rama answered, but the hours of day were o'er,
And Valmiki's youthful pupils to their cottage came once more.
with his guests and courtiers slowly left the royal hall,
Eager was his heart to listen, eager were the monarchs all,
the voice of song and music thus was lifted day to day,
And from day to day they listened to Valmiki's deathless Lay!
LAVA AND KUSARA RECOGNISED
Flashed upon the contrite Rama glimpses of the dawning truth,
And with tears of love paternal Rama clasped each minstrel youth,
his sorrow-stricken bosom for his pure and peerless dame,
Sita banished to the forest, stainless in her righteous fame!
his tears repentant Rama to Valmiki message sent,
That his heart with eager longing sought her from her banishment:
in soul! before these monarchs may she yet her virtue prove,
Grace once more my throne and kingdom, share my unforgotten love,
in soul! before my subjects may her truth and virtue shine,
Queen of Rama's heart and empire may she once again be mine!"
Morning dawned; and with Valmiki, Sita to the gathering came,
Banished wife and weeping mother, sorrow-stricken, suffering dame,
in thought and deed, Valmiki gave his troth and plighted word,--
Faithful still the banished Sita, in her bosom held her lord!
Saint," so Rama answered as he bowed his humble head,
'Listening world will hear thy mandate and the word that thou hast
in his bosom Rama questioned Sita's faithful love,
And the God of Fire incarnate did her stainless virtue prove!
if the voice of rumour drove me to a deed of shame,
Bowing to my people's wishes I disowned my sinless dame,
if to please my subjects I have bade my Sita, roam,
Tore her from my throne and empire, tore her from my heart and home!
the dark and dreary forest was my Sita left to mourn,
In the lone and gloomy jungle were my royal children born,
me, Gods, to wipe this error and this deed of sinful pride,
May my Sita prove her virtue, be again my loving bride!"
and Spirits, bright Immortals to that royal Yajna came,
Hen of every race and nation, kings and chiefs of righteous fame,
through the halls of splendour cool and scented breezes blew,
Fragrance of celestial blossoms o'er the royal chambers flew.
saw the bright Celestials, monarchs gathered from afar,
Saw her royal lord and husband bright as heaven-ascending star,
her sons as hermit -minstrels beaming with a radiance high,
Milk of love suffused her bosom, tear of sorrow filled her eye!
queen and Janak's daughter, will she stoop her cause to plead,
Witness of her truth and virtue can a loving woman need?
her woman~s heart is bursting, and her day on earth is done,
And she pressed her heaving bosom, slow and sadly thus begun:
unstained in thought and action I have lived from day of birth,
Spare a daughter's shame and anguish and receive her, Mother Earth!
in duty and devotion I have laboured undefiled,
After Earth I who bore this woman, once again, receive thy child!
in truth unto my husband I have proved a faithful wife,
Mother Earth I relieve thy Sita from the burden of this life!"
the earth was rent and parted, and a golden throne arose,
Held aloft by jewelled Nagas as the leaves enfold the rose,
the Mother in embraces held her spotless sinless Child,
Saintly Janak's saintly daughter, pure and true and undefiled,
and men proclaim her virtue! But fair Sita is no more,
Lone is Rama's loveless bosom and his days of bliss are o'er!
In the concluding portion of the Uttara or Supplemental Book, the
descendants of Rama and his brothers are described as the founders
of the great cities and kingdoms which flourished in Western India
in the fourth and fifth centuries before the Christian Era.
had two sons, Taksha and Pushkala. The former founded Taksha-sila,
to the east of the Indus, and known to Alexander and the Greeks
as Taxila. The latter founded Pushkala-vati, to the west of the
Indus, and known to Alexander and the Greeks as Peukelaotis. Thus
the sons of Bharat are said to have founded kingdoms which flourished
on either side of the Indus river in the fourth century before Christ.
had two sons, Angada and Chandraketu. The former founded the kingdom
of Karupada, and the latter founded the city of Chandrakanti in
the Malwa country.
had two sons, Suvahu and Satrughati. The former became king of Mathura,
and the latter ruled in Vidisha.
had two sons, Lava and Kusa. The former ruled in Sravasti, which
was the capital of Oudh at the time of the Buddha in the fifth and
sixth centuries before Christ. The latter founded Kusavati at the
foot of the Vindhya mountains.
death of Rama and his brothers was in accordance with Hindu ideas
of the death of the righteous. Lakshman died under somewhat peculiar
circumstances. A messenger from heaven sought a secret conference
with Rama, and Rama placed Lakshman at the gate, with strict injunctions
that whoever intruded on the private conference should be slain.
Lakshman himself had to disturb the conference by the solicitation
of the celestial rishi Durvasa, who always appears on earth to create
mischief. And true to the orders passed by Rama, he surrendered
his life by penances, and went to heaven.
the fulness of time, Rama and his other brothers left Ayodhya, crossed
the Sarayu, surrendered their mortal life, and entered heaven.