was thoroughly frightened by the deeds of Hanuman. For Hanuman had
not only penetrated into his island and discovered Sita in her imprisonment,
but had also managed to burn down a great portion of the city before
he left the island. Ravan called a Council of War, and as might
be expected, all the advisers heedlessly advised war.
but Bibhishan. He was the youngest brother of Ravail, and condemned
the folly and the crime by which Ravan was seeking a war with the
righteous and unoffending Rama. He advised that Sita should be restored
to her lord and peace made with Rama. His voice was drowned in the
cries of more violent advisers.
is noticeable that Ravan's second brother, Kumbha-karna, also had
the courage to censure his elder's action. But unlike Bibhishan
he was determined to fight for his king whether he was right or
wrong. There is a touch of sublimity in this blind and devoted loyalty
of Kumbha-karna to the cause of his king and his country.
was driven from the court with indiguity, and joined the forces
of Rama, to whom he gave much valuable information about Lanka and
passages translated in this Book form Sections vi., viii., ix.,
portions of Sections xii. and xv., and the whole of Section xvi.
of Book vi. of the original text.
RAVAN SEEKS ADVICE
Monarch of the mighty Rakshas, Ravan spake to warriors all,
Spake to gallant chiefs and princes gathered in his Council Hall:
Princes, Chiefs, and Warriors! Hanuman our land hath seen,
Stealing through the woods of Lanka unto Rama's prisoned queen,
audacious in his purpose and resistless in his ire,
Burnt our turret tower and temple, wasted Lanka's town with fire!
your counsel, gallant leaders, Ravan is intent to hear,
Triumph waits on fearless wisdom, speak your thoughts without a
monarchs act on counsel from his men for wisdom known,
Next are they who in their wisdom and their daring act alone,
unwisest are the monarchs who nor death nor danger weigh,
Think not, ask not friendly counsel, by their passions borne away!
counsel comes from courtiers who in holy lore unite,
Next, when varying plans and reasons blending lead unto the right,
end worst, when stormy passions mark the hapless king's debate,
And his friends are disunited when his foe is at the gate!
freely speak your counsel and your monarch's task shall be
But to shape in deed and action what your wisest thoughts decree,
with rainds and hearts united, shape your willing monarch's deed,
Counsel peace, or Ravan's forces to a war of vengeance lead,
Sugriva's countless forces cross the vast and boundless main,
Ere the wrathful Rama girdles Lanka with a living chain!"
Dark and high as summer tempest mighty-armed Prahasta rose,
Spake in fierce and fierce accents hurling challenge on his foes:
Ravan, quails thy bosom, gods against thee strive in vain,
Wherefore fear the feeble mortals, homeless hermits, helpless men?
approached in secret, stealing like a craven spy,
Not from one in open combat would alive the Vanar fly,
him come with all his forces, to the confines of the sea
I will chase the scattered army and thy town from foemen free!
in fear and hesitation Ravan should repent his deed,
While his gallant Raksha forces stand beside him in his need,
in tears and vain repentance Sita to his consort yield,
While his chieftains guard his empire in the battle's gory field!"
Durmukha of cruel visage and of fierce and angry word,
Rose within the Council Chamber, spake to Lanka's mighty lord:
shall the wily foeman boast of insult on us flung,
Hanuman shall die a victim for the outrage and the wrong!
in unguarded Lanka through thy city's virgin gate,
He hath courted deep disaster and a dark untimely fate,
in the inner mansions where our dames and damsels dwell,
Hanuman shall die a victim,--tale of shame he shall not tell!
is none of Ravan's army, bid me seek the foe alone,
If he hides in sky or ocean or in nether regions thrown,
is none of gathered forces, Ravan's mandate I obey,
I will smite the bold intruder and his Vanar forces slay!
Iron-toothéd Vajra-danshtra then arose in wrath and pride,
And his blood-stained mace of battle held in fury by his side,
Ravan, waste thy forces on the foemen poor and vile,
Hermit Rama and his brother, Hanuman of impious wile,
me,-with this mace of battle proud Sugriva I will slay,
Chase the helpless hermit brothers to the forests far away!
to deeper counsel listen! Varied shapes the Rakshas wear,
Let them wearing human visage. dressed as Bharat's troops appear,
from his ruling brother Rama will in gladness greet,
Then with mace and blood-stained sabre we shall lay them at our
and javelin and arrow we shall on our foemen hail,
Till no poor surviving Vanar lives to tell the tragic tale!"
SPEECH OF NIKUMBHA AND VAJRA-HANU
Then arose the brave Nikumbha,--Kumbha-kama's son was he,--
Spake his young heart's mighty passion in his accents bold and free:
is none, O mighty monarch, for a battle or a war,
Bid me meet the homeless Rama and his brother wand'ring far,
me face the proud Sugriva, Hanuman of deepest wile,
I will rid thee of thy foemen and of Vanars poor and vile!"
the chief with jaw of iron, Vajra-hanu fierce and young,
Licked his lips like hungry tiger with his red and lolling tongue:
monarch, dream of battle? Rakshas feed on human gore,
Let me feast upon thy foemen by the ocean's lonely shore,
and his hermit brother, Hanuman who hides in wood,
Augad and the proud Sugriva soon shall be my welcome food!"
Twenty warriors armed and girded in the Council Hall arose,
Thirsting for a war of vengeance, hurling challenge on the foes,
Bibhishan deep in wisdom--Ravan's youngest brother he,--
Spake the word of solemn warning, for his eye could farthest see:
king and honoured elder, if Bibhishan lifts his voice
'Gainst the wishes of the warriors and the monarch's fatal choice,
in faith and strong in forces Rama comes with conqu'ring might,
Vain against a righteous warrior would unrighteous Ravan fight!
him not a common Vanar who transpassed the ocean wave,
Wrecked thy city tower and temple and a sign and warning gave,
him not a common hermit who Ayodhya ruled of yore,
Crossing India's streams and mountains, thunders now on Lanka's
dark deed of crime or folly hath the righteous Rama done,
That you stole his faithful consort unprotected and alone,
offence or nameless insult hath the saintly Sita given,
She who chained in Lanka's prison pleads in piteous tear to Heaven?
my counsel, king and elder, Sita to her lord restore,
Wipe this deed of wrong and outrage, Rama's righteous grace implore,
my counsel, Raksha monarch, vain against him is thy might,
Doubly arméd is the hero,--he who battles for the right!
Sita to her Rama ere with vengeance swift and dire,
He despoils our peopled Lanka with his bow and brand and fire,
wife unto her husband ere in battle's dread array,
Rama swoops upon thy empire like a falcon on its prey,
to the lord his consort ere with blood of Rakshas slain,
Rama soaks the land of Lanka to the margin of the main!
to my friendly counsel,--though it be I stand alone,--
Faithful friend but fiery foeman is this Dasa-ratha's son,
to my voice of warning,--Rama's shafts are true and keen,
Flaming like the with'ring sunbeams on the summer's parchéd
to my soft entreaty,-righteousness becomes the brave,
Cherish peace and cherish virtue and thy sons and daughters save!"
Ravan's brother Kumbha-karna, from his wonted slumber woke,
Mightiest he of all the Rakshas, thus in solemn accents spoke:
speaks the wise Bibhishan; ere he stole a hermit's wife,
Ravan should have thought and pondered, courted not a causeless
he did this deed of folly, Ravan should have counsel sought,
Tardy is the vain repentance when the work of shame is wrought!
of wisdom timely spoken saves from death and dangers dire,
Vain is grief for crime committed,--offerings to unholy fire,
is hero's worth or valour if by foolish counsel led,
Toil and labour fail and perish save when unto wisdom wed,
the foeman speeds in triumph o'er a heedless monarch's might,
As through gaps of Krauncha mountains hansas speed their southern
thou hast sought unwisely Sita, in her calm retreat,
As the wild and heedless hunter feeds upon the poisoned meat,
faithful Kumbha-karna, will his loyal duty know,
He shall fight his monarch's battle, he shall face his brother's
to brother and to monarch, be he right or be he wrong,
Kumbha-kama fights for Lanka 'gainst her foemen fierce and strong,
not if the mighty INDRA and VIVASVAT cross his path,
Or the wild and stormy MARUTS, AGNI in his fiery wrath!
the Lord of Sky shall tremble when he sees my stature high,
And he hears his thunders echoed by my loud and answering cry,
armed with ample quiver shall no second arrow send,
Ere I slay him in the battle and his limb from limb I rend!
heads than Kumbha-karna right and true from wrong may know,
Faithful to his race and monarch he shall face the haughty foe,
thee in thy pleasure, Ravan, rule thy realm in regal pride,
When I slay the hermit Rama, widowed Sita be thy bride!"
Indrajit the son of Ravan then his lofty purpose told,
'Midst the best and boldest Rakshas none so gallant, none so bold:
noble king and father, pale Bibhishan's counsel hear,
Scion of the race of Rakshas speaks not thus in dastard fear,
this race of valiant Rakshas, known for deeds of glory done,
Feeble-hearted, faint in courage, save Bibhishan, there is none!
with meanest of the Rakshas what are sons of mortal men,
What are homeless human brothers hiding in the hermit's den,
we yield to weary wand'rers, driven from their distant home,
Chased from throne and father's kingdom in the desert woods to roam?
of sky and nether region, INDRA 'neath my weapon fell,
Pale Immortals know my valour and my warlike deeds can tell,
tusker, huge Airavat, by my prowess overthrown,
Trumpeted its anguished accents, shaking sky and earth with groan,
Gods and dauntless Daityas fame of Indrajit may know,
And he yields not, king and father, to a homeless human foe!"
Anger swelled in Ravan's bosom as he cast his blood-red eye
On Bibhishan calm and fearless, and he spake in accents high:
dwell with open foemen or in homes where cobras haunt,
Than with faithless friends who falter and whom fears of danger
the love of near relations!-false and faithless, full of guile,
How they sorrow at my glory, at my danger how they smile,
they grieve with secret anguish when my loftier virtues shine,
How they harbour jealous envy when deserts and fame are mine,
they scan with curious vision every fault that clouds my path,
How they wait with eager longing till I fall in Fortune's wrath
the elephants of jungle how their captors catch and bind.--
Not by fire and feeble weapons, but by treason of their kind,
by javelin or arrow,--little for these arms they care,--
But their false and fondling females lead them to the hunter's snare!
as nourishment and vigour shall impart the milk of cow,
Long as woman shall be changeful, hermits holy in their vow,
so long shall near relations bate us in their inner mind,
Mark us with a secret envy though their words be ne'er so kind!
fall upon the lotus but unmingling hang apart,
False relations round us gather but they blend not heart with heart,
clouds are big with thunder but they shed no freshening rain,
False relations smile and greet us but their soothing words are
are tempted by the honey but from flower to flower they range,
False relations share our favour but in secret seek a change!
is thy speech, Bibhishan, secret envy hirks within,
Thou wouldst rule thy elder's empire, thou wouldst wed thy elder's
thy treason to the foemen,--brother's blood I may not shed,--
Other Raksha craven-hearted by my royal hands had bled!"
This to me Bibhishan answered, as with fiery comrades four,
Rose in arms the wrathful Raksha and in fury rushed before.
I spare thee, roval Ravan, angry words thy lips have passed,
False and lying and unfounded is the censure thou hast cast!
Bibhishan sought thy safety, strove to save his elder's reign,--
Speed thee now to thy destruction since all counsel is in vain,
are thy smiling courtiers who with honeyed speech beguile,--
Few are they with truth and candour speak their purpose void of
to reason and to wisdow, Ravan seek thy destined fate,
For thy impious lust of woman, for thy dark unrighteous hate,
to danger and destruction, deaf to word of counsel given,
By the flaming shaft, of Rama thou shalt die by will of Heaven!
O! yet, my king and elder, let me plead with latest breath,
'Gainst the death of race and kismen, 'gainst my lord and brother's
yet, O Raksha monarch, save thy race and save thy own,
Ravan, part we now ever,--guard thy ancient sea-girt throne!"