wanderings of Rama in the Deccan, his meeting with Saint Agastya,
and his residence on the banks of the Godavari river, are narrated
in this Book. The reader has now left Northern India and crossed
the Vindhya mountains; and the scene of the present and succeeding
five Books is laid in the Deccan and Southern India. The name of
Agastya is connected with the Deccan, and many are the legends told
of this great Saint, before whom the Vindhya mountains bent in awe,
and by whose might the Southern ocean was drained. It is likely
that some religious teacher of that name first penetrated beyond
the Vindhyas, and founded the first Aryan settlement in the Deccan,
three thousand years ago. He was pioneer, discoverer and settler,-the
Indian Columbus who opened out Southern India to Aryan colonization
and Aryan religion.
yojanas from Agastya's hermitage, Rama built his forest dwelling
in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the Godavari river,
and within a hundred miles from the modern city of Bombay. There
he lived with his wife and brother in peace and piety, and the Book
closes with the description of an Indian winter morning, when the
brothers and Sita went for their ablutions to the Godavari, and
thought of their distant home in Oudh. The description of the peaceful
forest-life of the exiles comes in most appropriately on the eve
of stirring events which immediately succeed, and which give a new
turn to the story of the Epic. We now stand therefore at the turning
point of the poet's narrative; he has sung of domestic incidents
and of peaceful hermitages so far; he sings of dissensions and wars
portions translated in this Book form Sections i., xii., xiii.,
xv., and xvi. of Book iii. of the original text.
THE HERMITAGE OF AGASTYA
Righteous Rama, soft-eyed Sita, and the gallant Lakshman stood
In the wilderness of Dandaki--trackless, pathless, boundless wood,
within its gloomy gorges, dark and deep and known to few,
Humble homes of hermit sages rose before the princes' view.
of bark and scattered kusa spake their peaceful pure abode,
Seat of pious rite and penance which with holy splendour glowed,
songsters knew the asrama and the wild deer crept its blade,
And the sweet-voiced sylvan wood-nymph haunted oft its holy shade,
blazed the sacred altar, vase and ladle stood around,
Fruit and blossom, skin and faggot, sanctified the holy ground.
the broad and bending branches ripening-, fruits in clusters hung,
And with gifts and rich libations hermits raised the ancient song,
and the virgin lily danced upon the rippling rill,
And the golden sunlight glittered on the greenwoods calm and still,
the consecrated woodland by the holy hermits trod,
Shone like BRAHMA'S sky in lustre, hallowed by the grace of God!
loosened there his bow-string and the peaceful scene surveyed,
And the holy sages welcomed wanderers in the forest shade,
bright as Lord of Midnight, Sita with her saintly face,
Lakshman young and true and valiant, decked with warrior's peerless
hut the holy sages to the royal guests assigned,
Brought them fruit and forest blossoms, blessed them with their
son," thus spake the sages, "helper of each holy rite,
Portion of the royal INDRA, fount of justice and of might,
thy throne or in the forest, king of nations, lord of men,
Grant us to thy kind protection in this hermit's lonely den!
fare and jungle produce were before the princes laid,
And the toil-worn, tender Sita slumbered in the asram's shade.
from grove to grove they wandered, to each haunt of holy sage,
Sarabhanga's sacred dwelling and Sutikshna's hermitage,
they met the Saint Agastya, mightiest Saint of olden time,
Harbinger of holy culture in the wilds of Southern clime!
born of Dasa-ratha, long and far hath Rama strayed,"
Thus to pupil of Agastya young and gallant Lakshman said,--
his faithful consort Sita in these wilds he wanders still,
I am righteous Rama's younger, duteous to his royal will,
we pass these years of exile to our father's mandate true,
Fain to mighty Saint Agastya we would render homage due!"
to his words the hermit sought the shrine of Sacred Fire,
Spake the message of the princes to the Saint and ancient Sire:
Rama, valiant Lakshman, saintly Sita seek this shade,
And to see thee, radiant rishi, have in humble accents prayed."
he come," so spake Agastya, "Rama prince of Raghu's race,
Youth for whom this heart hath thirsted, youth endued with righteous
he come with wife and brother to accept our greetings kind,
Wherefore came ye for permission, wherefore linger they behind?
and the soft-eyed Sita, were with gallant Lakshman led,
Where the dun deer free and fearless roamed within the holy shade,
the shrines of great Immortals stood in order thick and close,
And by bright and blazing altars chanted songs and hymns arose.
and the flaming AGNI, VISHNU lord of heavenly light,
INDRA and benign VIVASAT ruler of the azure height,
and the radiant BHAGA, and KUVERA lord of gold,
And VIDHATRI great Creator worshipped by the saints of old,
breath of living creatures, YAMA monarch of the dead,
And VARUNA with his fetters which the trembling sinners dread,
Spirit of GAYATRI goddess of the morning prayer,
VASUS and the hooded NAGAS, golden-winged GARUDA fair,
heavenly leader strong to conquer and to bless,
DHARMA god of human duty and of human righteousness,
of all these bright Immortals ruling in the skies above,
Filled the pure and peaceful forest with a calm and holy love!
by hermits righteous-hearted then the Saint Agastya came,
Rich in wealth of pious penance, rich in learning and in fame,
Rama marked him radiant like the midday sun,
Bowed and rendered due obeisance with each act of homage done,
Lakshman tall and stately to the great Agastya bent,
With a woman's soft devotion Sita, bowed unto the saint.
Agastya raised the princes, greeted them in accents sweet,
Gave them fruit and herb and water, offered them the honoured seat,
libations unto AGNI offered welcome to each guest,
Food and drink beseeming hermits on the wearied princes pressed.
the hermits," spake Agastya, "who to guests their dues
Hunger they in life hereafter-like the speaker of a lie.
a royal guest and wanderer doth our foremost honour claim,
Car-borne kings protect the wide earth by their prowess and their
these fruits and forest blossoms be our humble homage shewn,
By some gift, of Rama worthy, be Agastya's blessings known!
this bow, heroic Rama,--need for warlike arms is thine,--
Gems of more than earthly radiance on the goodly weapon shine,
of righteous VISHNU! VISHNU'S wondrous weapon take,
Heavenly artist VISWA-KARMAN shaped this bow of heavenly make!
this shining dart of BRAHMA radiant like a tongue of flame,
Sped by good and worthy archer never shall it miss its aim,
this INDRA's ample quiver filled with arrows true and keen,
Filled with arrows still unfailing in the battle's dreadful scene!
this sabre golden-hilted in its case of burnished gold,
Not unworthy of a monarch and a warrior true and bold,
foes of bright Immortals know these weapons dread and dire,
Mowing down the ranks of foemen, scathing like the forest fire!
these weapons thy companions,-Rama, thou shalt need them oft,
Meet and conquers till thy foemen like the Thunder-God aloft!"
THE COUNSEL OF AGASTYA
"Pleased am I," so spake Agastya, "in these forests
dark and wild,
Thou hast come to seek me, Rama, with the saintly Janak's child,
like pale and drooping blossom severed from the parent tree,
Far from home in toil and trouble, faithful Sita follows thee,
to wedded lord and husband she hath followed Raghu's son,
With a woman's deep devotion woman's duty she hath done!
unlike the fickle woman, true while Fame and Fortune smile,
Faithless when misfortunes gather, loveless in her wicked wile,
unlike the changeful woman, false as light the lightnings fling,
Keen as sabre, quick as tempest, swift as bird upon its wing!
to Fortune's frown or favour, Sita still in truth abides,
As the star of Arundhati in her mansion still resides,
thee with thy gentle consort, farther still she may not roam,
Holier were this hermit's forest as the saintly Sita's home!"
Agastya!" answered Rama, "blesséd is my banished
For thy kindriess to an exile and his friendless homeless wife,
in wilder, gloomier forests lonesome we must wander still,
Where a deeper, darker shadow settles on the rock and rill."
it so," Agastya answered, "two short yojans from this
Wild is Panchavati's forest where unseen the wild deer race,
limpid waters through its gloomy gorges flow,
Fruit and root and luscious berries on its silent margin grow,
that spot and with thy brother build a lonesome leafy home,
Tend thy true and toil-worn Sita, farther still she may not roam!
unknown to me the mandate by thy royal father given,
Not unseen thy endless wanderings destined by the will of Heaven,
Panchavati's forest marked I for thy woodland stay,
Where the ripening wild fruit clusters and the wild bird trills
thy dear devoted Sita and protect each pious rite,
Matchless in thy warlike wcapons peerless in thy princely might!
yon gloomy Mahua forest stretching o'er the boundless lea,
Pass that wood and turning northward seek an old Nyagrodha tree,
ascend a sloping upland by a steep and lofty hill,
Thou shalt enter Panchavati, blossom -covered, calm and still!"
to the great Agastya, Rama left the mighty sage,
Bowing to each saint and hermit, Lakshman left the hermitage,
the princes tall and stately marched where Panchavati lay,
Soft-eyed Sita followed meekly where her Rama led the way!
THE FOREST OF PANCHAVATI
Godavari's limpid waters in her gloomy gorges strayed,
Unseen rangers of the jungle nestled in the darksome shade!
the woodlands," uttered Rama, "by the Saint Agastya told,
Panchavati's lonesome forest with its blossoms red and gold,
to scan the wood and jungle, Lakshman, cast thy eye around,
For our humble home and dwelling seek a low and level ground,
the river laves its margin with a soft and gentle kiss,
Where my sweet and soft-eyed Sita may repose in sylvan bliss,
the lawn is fresh and verdant and the kwa young and bright,
And the creeper yields her blossoms for our sacrificial rite."
can I help thee, brother," did the duteous Lakshman say,
"Thou art prompt to judge and fathom, Lakshman listens to obey!
this spot," so answered Rama, leading Lakshman by the hand,
"Soft the lawn of verdant kusa, beauteous blossoms light the
the smiling lake of lotus gleaming with a radiance fair,
Wafting fresh and gentle fragrance o'er the rich and laden air,
each scented shrub and creeper bending o'er the lucid wave,
Where the bank with soft caresses Godavari's waters lave!
ducks frequent this margin, Chakravakas breathe of love,
And the timid deer of jungle browse within the shady grove,
the valleys are resonant with the peacock's clarion cry,
And the trees with budding blossoms glitter on the mountains high,
the rocks in well-marked strata in their glittering lines appear,
Like the streaks of white and crimson painted on our tuskers fair!
Sal and feathered palm-tree guard this darksome forest-land,
Golden date and flowering mango stretch afar on either hand,
thrives and blazing Kinsuk, Chandan wafts a fragrance rare,
Aswa-karna and Khadira by the Sami dark and fair,
spot for hermit-dwelling joyous with the voice of song,
Haunted by the timid wild deer and by black buck fleet and strong!
faithful Lakshman heard the words his elder said,
And by sturdy toil and labour stately home and dwelling made,
was the leafy cottage walled with moistened earth and soft,
Pillared with the stately bamboo holding high the roof aloft,
twigs and branches, corded from the ridge to eaves,
Held the thatch of reed and branches and of jungle grass and leaves,
the floor was pressed and levelled and the toilsome task was done
And the structure rose in beauty for the righteous Raghu's son!
the river for ablutions Lakshman went of warlike fame,
With a store of fragrant lotus and of luscious berries came,
to the Bright Gods sacred hymns and mantras said,
Proudly then unto his elder shewed the home his hand had made.
her soft and grateful accents gentle Sita praised his skill,
Praised a brother's loving labour, praised a hero's dauntless will,
clasped his faithful Lakshman in a brother's fond embrace,
Spake in sweet and kindly accents with an elder's loving grace:
can Rama, homeless wand'rer, priceless love like thine requite,
Let him hold thee in his bosom, soul of love and arm of might,
our father good and gracious, in a righteous son like thee,
Lives again and treads the bright earth, from the bonds of YAMA
spake Rama, and with Lakshman and with Sita child of love,
Dwelt in Panchavati's cottage as the Bright Gods dwell above!
WINTER IN PANCHAVATI
Came and passed the golden autumn in the forest's gloomy shade,
And the northern blasts of winter swept along the silent glade,
the chilly night was over, once at morn the prince of fame,
For his morning's pure ablutions to the Godavari came.
Sita softly followed with the pitcher in her arms,
Gallant Lakshman spake to Rama of the Indian winter's charms:
the bright and bracing winter to the royal Rama dear,
Like a bride the beauteous season doth in richest robes appear,
air and freshening zephyrs wake to life each mart and plain,
And the corn in dewdrop sparkling makes a sea of waving green,
the village maid and matron shun the freezing river's shore,
By the fire the village elder tells the stirring tale of yore!
the winter's ample harvest men perform each pious rite,
To the Fathers long departed, to the Gods of holy might,
the rite of agrayana pious men their sins dispel,
And with gay and sweet observance songs of love the women tell,
the monarchs bent on conquest mark the winter's cloudless glow,
Lead their bannered cars and forces 'gainst the rival and the foe!
rolls the solar chariot, and the cold and widowed North
Reft of 'bridal mark' and joyance coldly sighs her sorrows forth,
rolls the solar chariot, Himalaya, 'home of snow,'
True to name and appellation doth in whiter garments glow,
rolls the solar chariot, cold and crisp the frosty air,
And the wood of flower dismantled doth in russet robes appear!
of Pushya rules December and the night with rime is hoar,
And beneath the starry welkin in the woods we sleep no more,
the pale moon mist-enshrouded sheds a faint and feeble beam,
As the breath obscures the mirror, winter mist obscures her gleam,
by the rising vapour faint she glistens on the dale,
Like our sun-embrownéd Sita with her toil and penance pale!
blasts from western mountains through the gorges whistle by
And the saras and the curlew raise their shrill and piercing cry,
fields of wheat and barley are with dewdrops moist and wet,
And the golden rice of winter ripens like the clustering date,
marts and rural hamlets wake to life and cheerful toil,
And the peaceful happy nations prosper on their fertile soil!
the sun in morning vapours-like the moon subdued and pale
Brightening as the day advances piercing through the darksome veil,
his gay and golden lustre sparkling o'er the dewy lea,
Mantling hill and field and forest, painting bush and leaf and tree,
it glisten on the green grass, on each bright and bending blade,
Lighten up the long-drawn vista, shooting through the gloomy glade!
the lordly tusker still avoids the freezing drink,
Wild duck and the tuneful hansa doubtful watch the river's brink,
the rivers wrapped in vapour unseen cries the wild curlew,
Unseen rolls the misty streamlet o'er its sandbank soaked in dew,
the drooping water-lily bends her head beneath the frost,
Lost her fresh and fragrant beauty and her tender petals lost!
my errant fancy wanders to Ayodhya's distant town,
Where in hermit's barks and tresses Bharat wears the royal crown,
regal state and splendoar, spurning pleasures loved of yore,
Spends his winter day in penance, sleeps at night upon the floor,
perchance Sarayu's waters seeks he now, serene and brave,
As we seek, when dawns the daylight, Godavari's limpid wave!
of hue, with eye of lotus, truthful, faithful, strong of mind,
For the love he bears thee, Rama, spurns each joy of baser kind,
he proves unto his father who is led by mother's wile,'
Vain this ancient impious adage-Bharat spurns his mother's guile,
mother Queen Kaikeyi, Dasa-ratha's royal spouse,
Deep in craft, hath brought disaster on Ayodhya's royal house!"
not thus," so Rama answered, "on Kaikeyi cast no blame,
Honour still the righteous Bharat, honour still the royal dame,
in purpose and unchanging still in jungle wilds I roam,
But thy accents, gentle Lakshman, wake a longing for my home!
my loving mem'ry lingers on each word from Bharat fell
Sweeter than the draught of nectar, purer than the crystal well,
my righteous purpose falters, shaken by a brother's love,
May we meet again our brother, if it please the Gods above!"
by love, a silent tear-drop fell on Godavari's wave,
True once more to righteous purpose Rama's heart was calm and brave
plunged into the river'neath the morning's crimson beam,
Sits, softly sought the waters as the lily seeks the stream,
they prayed to Gods and Fathers with each rite and duty doue,
And they sang the ancient mantra to the red and rising Sun,
her lord, in loosened tresses Sita to her cottage came,
As with RUDRA wanders UMA in Kailasa's hill of fame!