real Epic ends with the war, and with Rama's happy return to Ayodhya.
Sita proves her stainless virtue by an Ordeal of Fire, and returns
with her lord and with Lakshman in an aërial car, which Ravan
had won from the Gods, and which Bibhishan made over to Rama. Indian
poets are never tired of descriptions of nature, and the poet of
the Ramayana takes advantage of Rama's journey from Ceylon to Oudh
to give us a bird's-eye view of the whole continent of India, as
well as to recapitulate the principal incidents of his great Epic.
gathering of men at Ayodhya, the greetings to Rama, and his consecration
by the Vedic bard Vasishtha, are among the most pleasing passages
in the whole poem. And the happiness enjoyed by men during the reign
of Rama--described in the last few couplets of this Book--is an
article of belief and a living tradition in India to this day.
portions translated in this Book form the whole or portions of Sections
cxviii., cxx., cxxv., cxxix., and cxxx. of Book vi. of the original
ORDEAL BY FIRE
For she dwelt in Ravan's dwelling--rumour clouds a woman's fame--
Righteous Rama's brow was clouded, saintly Sita, spake in shame:
spake ye not, my Rama, if your bosom doubts my faith,
Dearer than a dark suspicion to a woman were her death!
Rama, with your token came your vassal o'er the wave,
To assist a fallen woman and a tainted wife to save,
with vour mighty forces crossed the ocean in your pride,
Risked your fife in endless combats for a sin-polluted bride?
thou, Rama, all forgotten?--Saintly Janak saw my birth,
Child of harvest-bearing furrow, Sita sprang from Mother Earth,
a maiden true and stainless unto thee I gave my hand,
As a consort fond and faithful roved with thee from land to land!
a woman pleadeth vainly when suspicion clouds her name,
Lakshman, if thou lov'st thy sister, light for me the funeral flame,
the shadow of dishonour darkens o'er a woman's life,
Death alone is friend and refuge of a true and trustful wife,
a righteous lord and husband turns his cold averted eyes,
FuneraI flame dispels suspicion, honour lives when woman dies!"
was Rama's gloomy visage and his lips were firmly sealed,
And his eye betraved no weakness, word disclosed no thought concealed,
heaved his heart in anguish, silent drooped his tortured head,
Lakshman with a throbbing bosom funeral pyre for Sita made,
Videha's sinless daughter prayed unto the Gods above,
On her lord and wedded consort cast her dying looks of love!
in act and thought," she uttered, " I am true unto my
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!
a false and lying scandal brings a faithful woman shame,
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!
in lifelong loving duty I am free from sin and blame,
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!"
in her faith and valour Sita stepped upon the pyre,
And her form of beauty vanished circled by the clasping fire,
an anguish shook the people like the ocean tempest-tost,
Old and young and maid and matron wept for Sita true and lost,
bedecked in golden splendour and in gems and rich attire,
Sita vanished in the red fire of the newly lighted pyre!
and the great Gandharvas, Gods who know each secret deed,
Witnessed Sita's high devotion and a woman's lofty creed,
the earth by ocean girdled with its wealth of teeming life,
Witnessed deed of dauntless duty of a true and stainless wife!
WOMAN'S TRUTH VINDICATED
Slow the red flames rolled asunder, God of Fire incarnate came,
Holding in his radiant bosom fair Videha's sinless dame,
a curl upon her tresses, not a blossom on her brow,
Not a fibre of her mantle did with tarnished lustre glow!
of our sins and virtues, God of Fire incarnate spake,
Bade the sorrow-stricken Rama back his sinless wife to take:
in his impious folly forced from thee thy faithful dame,
Guarded by her changeless virtue, Sita still remains the same,
oft by female Rakshas in the dark and dismal wood,
In her woe and in her sadness true to thee hath Sita stood,
oft by royal Ravan in the forest far and lone,
True to wedded troth and virtue Sita thought of thee alone,
is she in thought and action, pure and stainless, true and meek,
I, the witness of all actions, thus my sacred mandate speak!"
forehead was unclouded and a radiance lit his eye,
And his bosom heaved in gladness as he spake in accents high:
from the time I saw her in her maiden clays of youth,
Have I doubted Sita's virtue, Sita's fixed and changeless truth,
have known her ever sinless,--let the world her virtue know,
For the God of Fire is witness to her truth and changeless vow!
in his pride and passion conquered not a woman's love,
For the virtuous like the bright fire in their native radiance move,
in his rage and folly conquered not a faithful wife,
For like ray of sun unsullied is a righteous woman's life,
the wide world now a witness,-pure and stainless is my dame,
Rama shall not leave his consort till he leaves his righteous fame!"
his tears the contrite Rama clasped her in a soft embrace,
And the fond forgiving Sita in his bosom hid her face!
RETURN HOME BY THE AËRIAL CAR
"Mark my love," so Rama uttered, as on flying Pushpa car,
Borne by swans, the home-returning exiles left the field of war,
proud and castled city on Trikuta's triple crest,
As on peaks of bold Kailasa mansions of Immortals rest!
the gory fields surrounding where the Vanars in their might,
Faced and fought the charging Rakshas in the long and deathful fight,
and Kumbha-kama, Ravan and his chieftains slain,
Fell upon the field of battle and their red blood soaks the plain.
where dark-eyed Mandodari, Ravan's slender-waisted wife,
Wept her widow's tears of anguish when her monarch lost his life,
hath dried her tears of sorrow and bestowed her heart and hand,
On Bibhisban good and faitbful, crowned king of Lanka's land.
my love, round Ceylon's island how the ocean billows roar.
Hiding pearls in eaves of corals, strewing shells upon the shore,
the causeway far-extending,--monument of Rama's fame,--
'Rama's Bridge' to distant ages shall our deathless deeds proclaim!
the rock-bound fair Kishkindha and her mountain-girdled town,
Where I slayed the warrior Bali, placed Sugriva on the throne,
the hill of Rishyamuka where Sugriva first I met,
Gave him word,--he would be monarch ere the evening's Sun had set.
the sacred lake of Pampa by whose wild and echoing shore,
Rama poured his lamentations when he saw his wife no more,
the woods of Janasthana where Jatayu fought and bled,
When the deep deceitful Ravan with my trusting Sita fled.
thou mark, my soft-eyed Sita, cottage on the river's shore,
Where in righteous peace and penance Sita, lived in days of yore,
by gloomy Godavari, Saint Agastya's home of love,
Holy men by holy duties sanctify the sacred grove!
thou, o'er the Dandak forest, view the Chitrakuta hill.
Deathless bard the Saint Valmiki haunts its shade and crystal rill,
came the righteous Bharat and my loving mother came,
Longing in their hearts to take us to Ayodhya's town of fame,
thou, dear devoted Sita, see the Jumna in her might '
Where in Bharad-waja's asram passed we, love, a happy, night,
the broad and ruddy Ganga sweeping in her regal pride,
Forest-dweller faithful Guha crossed us to the southern side.
joy! my gentle Sita,! Fair Ayodhya looms above,
Ancient seat of Raghu's empire, nest of Rama's hope and love,
bow, to bright Ayodhya! Darksome did the exiles roam,
Now their weary toil is ended in their father's ancient home!
Message from returning Rama, Vanars to Ayodhya brought,
Righteous Bharat gave his mandate with a holy joy distraught:
our city shrines and chaityas with a lofty music shake,
And ourpriests to bright Immortals grateful gifts and offerings
reciters of Puranas, minstrels versed in ancient song,
Women with their tuneful voices lays of sacred love prolong,
our queens and stately courtiers step in splendour and in state,
Chieftains with their marshalled forces range along the city gate,
our white-robed holy Brahmans hymn and sacred mantras sing.
Offer greetings to our brother, render homage to our king!"
Satrughna heard his elder and his mandate duly kept:
"Be our great and sacred city levelled, cleansed, and duly
the grateful earth be sprinkled with the water from the well,
Strewn with parchéd rice and offering and with flower of
each turret, tower, and temple let our flags and colours wave,
On the gates of proud Ayodhya plant Ayodhya'a banners brave,
festoons of flowering creeper home and street and dwelling line,
And in gold and glittering garment let the gladdened city shine.
in golden trappings thousand chiefs and nobles bore.
Chariots, cars, and gallant chargers speeding by Sarayu's shore,
the serried troops of battle marched with colours rich and brave,
Proudly o'er the gay procession did, Ayodhya's banners wave.
their stately gilded litters royal dames and damsels came,
Queen Kausalya first and foremost, Queen Sumitra rich in fame,
priest and learned Brahman, chief of guild from near and far,
Noble chief and stately courtier with the wreath and water jar.
by minstrel, bard, and herald chanting glorious deeds of yore,
Bharat came,--his elder's sandals still the faithful younger bore,--
his proud umbrella, silver-white his garland brave,
Silver-white the fan of chowri which his faithful henchmen wave,
march of gallant chargers and the roll of battle car,
Heavy tread of royal tuskers and the beat of drum of war,
and echoing sankha, voice of nations gathered nigh,
Shook the city's tower and temple and the pealing vault of sky!
o'er the cloudless ether Rama's Pushpa chariot came,
And ten thousand jocund voices shouted Rama's joyous name,
with their loving greetings, children with their joyous cry,
Tottering age and lisping infant hailed the righteous chief and
lifted up his glances unto Rama from afar,
Unto Sita, unto Lakshman, seated on the Pushpa car,
he wafted high his greetings and he poured his pious lay,
As one wafts the chaunted mantra to the rising God of Day!
swans by Rama's bidding soft descended from the air,
And on earth the chariot lighted,--car of flowers divinely fair,--
mounting on the chariot, sought his long-lost elder's grace,
Rama held his faithful younger in a brother's dear embrace.
his greetings unto Lakshman, unto Rama's faithful dame,
To Bibhishan and Sugriva and each chief who thither came,
took the jewelled sandals with the rarest gems inlaid,
Placed them at the feet of Rama and in humble accents said:
of thy rule and empire, these have filled thy royal throne,
Faithful to his trust and duty Bharat renders back thine own,
life is joy and gladness, for returned from distant shore,
Thou shalt rule thy spacious kingdom and thy loyal men once more,
shalt hold thy rightful empire and assume thy royal crown,
Faithful to his trust and duty, Bharat renders back thine own,
Joy! joy in bright Ayodhya gladness filled the hearts of all,
Joy! joy a lofty music sounded in the royal hall,
years of woe were ended, Rama now assumed his own,
And they placed the weary wand'rer on his father's ancient throne,
they brought the sacred water from each distant stream and hill,
From the vast and boundless ocean, from each far and sacred rill.
the Bard of Vedas with auspicious rites and meet
Placed the monarch and his consort on the gemmed and jewelled seat,
and Katyayana, Vamadeva priest of yore,
Jabali and wise Vijaya verged in holy ancient lore,
the fresh and fraurant water on the consecrated kine,
As the Gods anointed INDRA from the pure ethereal spring!
priests with sacred mantra, dark-eyed virgins with their song,
Warriors girt in arms and weapons round the crownéd monarch
from each fragrant creeper on his royal brow they place,
And his father's crown and jewels Rama's ample forehead grace,
as Manu, first of monarchs, was enthroned in days of yore,
So was Rama consecrated by the priests of Vedic lore!
Satrughna on his brother cast the white umbrella's shade
Bold Sugriva and Bibhishan waved the chowri gem-inlaid,
God of gentle zephyrs, gift of golden garland lent,
INDRA, God of rain and sunshine, wreath of pearls to Rama sent,
Gandharvas raised the music, fair Apsaras formed the ring,
Men in nations hailed their Rama as their lord and righteous king!
tis told by ancient sages, during Rama's happy reign,
Death untimely, dire diseases came not to his subject men,
wept not in their sorrow for their lords untimely lost,
Mothers wailed not in their anguish for their babes by YAMA crost,
cheats, and gay deceivers tempted not with lying word,
Neighbour loved his righteous neighbour and the people loved their
their ample produce yielded as returning seasons went,
And the earth in grateful gladness never failing harvest lent,
descended in their season, never came the blighting gale,
Rich in crop and rich in pasture was each soft and smiling vale,
and anvil gave their produce and the tilled and fertile soil,
And the nation lived rejoicing in their old ancestral.