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Title: Hindu literature : Comprising The Book of good counsels, Nala and Damayanti, The Ramayana, and Sakoontala
Author: Kalidasa, Anonymous, Valmiki, Dutt, Toru, 1856-1877
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Translator's Preface


  The Story of the Jackal, Deer, and Crow
  The Story of the Vulture, the Cat, and the Birds
  The Story of the Dead Game and the Jackal
  The Prince and the Wife of the Merchant's Son
  The Story of the Old Jackal and the Elephant

  The Story of the Lion, the Jackals, and the Bull
  The Story of the Monkey and the Wedge
  The Story of the Washerman's Jackass
  The Story of the Cat who Served the Lion
  The Story of the Terrible Bell
  The Story of the Prince and the Procuress
  The Story of the Black Snake and the Golden Chain
  The Story of the Lion and the Old Hare
  The Story of the Wagtail and the Sea

  The Battle of the Swans and Peacocks
  The Story of the Weaver-Birds and the Monkeys
  The Story of the Old Hare and the Elephants
  The Story of the Heron and the Crow
  The Story of the Appeased Wheelwright
  The Story of the Dyed Jackal
  The Story of the Faithful Rajpoot

  The Treaty Between the Peacocks and the Swans
  The Story of the Tortoise and the Geese
  The Story of Fate and the Three Fishes
  The Story of the Unabashed Wife
  The Story of the Herons and the Mongoose
  The Story of the Recluse and the Mouse
  The Story of the Crane and the Crab
  The Story of the Brahman and the Pans
  The Duel of the Giants
  The Story of the Brahman and the Goat
  The Story of the Camel, the Lion, and His Court
  The Story of the Frogs and the Old Serpent


  Part I
  Part II


         [_Cantos II., III., IV., and V. are omitted_]
    VI.--The King
   VII.--The Ministers
  VIII.--Sumantra's Speech
     X.--Rishyaśring Invited
    XI.--The Sacrifice Decreed
   XII.--The Sacrifice Begun
  XIII.--The Sacrifice Finished
   XIV.--Rávan Doomed
    XV.--The Nectar
   XVI.--The Vánars
  XVII.--Rishyaśring's Return
 XVIII.--Rishyaśring's Departure
   XIX.--The Birth of the Princes
    XX.--Viśvámitra's Visit
   XXI.--Viśvámitra's Speech
  XXII.--Daśaratha's Speech
 XXIII.--Vaśishtha's Speech
  XXIV.--The Spells
   XXV.--The Hermitage of Love
  XXVI.--The Forest of Tádaká
 XXVII.--The Birth of Tádaká
XXVIII.--The Death of Tádaká
  XXIX.--The Celestial Arms
   XXX.--The Mysterious Powers
  XXXI.--The Perfect Hermitage
 XXXII.--Viśvámitra's Sacrifice
XXXIII.--The Sone
  XXXV.--Viśvámitra's Lineage
 XXXVI.--The Birth of Gangá
      [_Cantos XXXVII. and XXXVIII. are omitted_]
 XXXIX.--The Son of Sagar
    XL.--The Cleaving of the Earth
  XLII.--Sagar's Sacrifice


Dramatis Personae
Rules for Pronunciation of Proper Names
Act First
Act Second
Prelude to Act Third
Act Third
Prelude to Act Fourth
Act Fourth
Act Fifth
Prelude to Act Sixth
Act Sixth
Act Seventh


  Jogadhya Uma
    Part I
    Part II
    Part III
  Near Hastings
  The Tree of Life
  Madame Thérèse
  Our Casuarina-Tree


       *       *       *       *       *



[_Translated from the Sanscrit by Sir Edwin Arnold_]


A story-book from the Sanscrit at least possesses the minor merit of
novelty. The "perfect language" has been hitherto regarded as the
province of scholars, and few of these even have found time or taste to
search its treasures. And yet among them is the key to the heart of
modern India--as well as the splendid record of her ancient Gods and
glories. The hope of Hindostan lies in the intelligent interest of
England. Whatever avails to dissipate misconceptions between them, and
to enlarge their intimacy, is a gain to both peoples; and to this end
the present volume aspires, in an humble degree, to contribute.

The "Hitopadeśa" is a work of high antiquity, and extended popularity.
The prose is doubtless as old as our own era; but the intercalated
verses and proverbs compose a selection from writings of an age
extremely remote. The "Mahabharata" and the textual Veds are of those
quoted; to the first of which Professor M. Williams (in his admirable
edition of the "Nala," 1860) assigns a date of 350 B.C., while he claims
for the "Rig-Veda" an antiquity as high as B.C. 1300. The "Hitopadeśa"
may thus be fairly styled "The Father of all Fables"; for from its
numerous translations have come Æsop and Pilpay, and in later days
Reineke Fuchs. Originally compiled in Sanscrit, it was rendered, by
order of Nushiraván, in the sixth century, A.D., into Persic. From the
Persic it passed, A.D. 850, into the Arabic, and thence into Hebrew and
Greek. In its own land it obtained as wide a circulation. The Emperor
Acbar, impressed with the wisdom of its maxims and the ingenuity of its
apologues, commended the work of translating it to his own Vizir, Abdul
Fazel. That minister accordingly put the book into a familiar style, and
published it with explanations, under the title of the "Criterion of
Wisdom." The Emperor had also suggested the abridgment of the long
series of shlokes which here and there interrupt the narrative, and the
Vizir found this advice sound, and followed it, like the present
Translator. To this day, in India, the "Hitopadeśa," under other names
(as the "Anvári Suhaili"[1]), retains the delighted attention of young
and old, and has some representative in all the Indian vernaculars. A
work so well esteemed in the East cannot be unwelcome to Western
readers, who receive it here, a condensed but faithful transcript of
sense and manner.

As often as an Oriental allusion, or a name in Hindoo mythology, seemed
to ask some explanation for the English reader, notes have been
appended, bearing reference to the page. In their compilation, and
generally, acknowledgment is due to Professor Johnson's excellent
version and edition of the "Hitopadeśa," and to Mr. Muir's "Sanscrit

A residence in India, and close intercourse with the Hindoos, have given
the author a lively desire to subserve their advancement. No one listens
now to the precipitate ignorance which would set aside as "heathenish"
the high civilization of this great race; but justice is not yet done to
their past development and present capacities. If the wit, the morality,
and the philosophy of these "beasts of India" (so faithfully rendered by
Mr. Harrison Weir) surprise any vigorous mind into further exploration
of her literature, and deeper sense of our responsibility in her
government, the author will be repaid.


[1] "The Lights of Canopus," a Persian paraphrase; as the "Khirad
Afroz," "the lamp of the Understanding," is in Hindustani.




    This book of Counsel read, and you shall see,
    Fair speech and Sanscrit lore, and Policy.

ON the banks of the holy river Ganges there stood a city named
Pataliputra. The King of it was a good King and a virtuous, and his name
was Sudarsana. It chanced one day that he overheard a certain person
reciting these verses--

    "Wise men, holding wisdom highest, scorn delights, as false as fair,
    Daily live they as Death's fingers twined already in their hair.

    Truly, richer than all riches, better than the best of gain,
    Wisdom is, unbought, secure--once won, none loseth her again.

    Bringing dark things into daylight, solving doubts that vex the mind,
    Like an open eye is Wisdom--he that hath her not is blind."

Hearing these the King became disquieted, knowing that his own sons were
gaining no wisdom, nor reading the Sacred Writings,[2] but altogether
going in the wrong way; and he repeated this verse to himself--

    "Childless art thou? dead thy children? leaving thee to want and dool?
    Less thy misery than his is, who is father to a fool."

And again this--

    "One wise son makes glad his father, forty fools avail him not:--
    One moon silvers all that darkness which the silly stars did dot."

"And it has been said," reflected he--

    "Ease and health, obeisant children, wisdom, and a fair-voiced wife--
    Thus, great King! are counted up the five felicities of life.
    For the son the sire is honored; though the bow-cane bendeth true,
    Let the strained string crack in using, and what service shall it do?"

"Nevertheless," mused the King, "I know it is urged that human efforts
are useless: as, for instance--

    "That which will not be, will not be--and what is to be, will be:--
    Why not drink this easy physic, antidote of misery?"

"But then that comes from idleness, with people who will not do what
they should do. Rather,

    "Nay! and faint not, idly sighing, 'Destiny is mightiest,'
    Sesamum holds oil in plenty, but it yieldeth none unpressed.
    Ah! it is the Coward's babble, 'Fortune taketh, Fortune gave;'
    Fortune! rate her like a master, and she serves thee like a slave."

"For indeed,

    "Twofold is the life we live in--Fate and Will together run:--
    Two wheels bear life's chariot onward--will it move on only one?"


    "Look! the clay dries into iron, but the potter moulds the clay:--
    Destiny to-day is master--Man was master yesterday."

"So verily,

    "Worthy ends come not by wishing. Wouldst thou? Up, and win it, then!
    While the hungry lion slumbers, not a deer comes to his den."

Having concluded his reflections, the Raja gave orders to assemble a
meeting of learned men. Then said he--

"Hear now, O my Pundits! Is there one among you so wise that he will
undertake to give the second birth of Wisdom to these my sons, by
teaching them the Books of Policy; for they have never yet read the
Sacred Writings, and are altogether going in the wrong road; and ye know

    "Silly glass, in splendid settings, something of the gold may gain;
    And in company of wise ones, fools to wisdom may attain."

Then uprose a great Sage, by name Vishnu-Sarman, learned in the
principles of Policy as is the angel of the planet Jupiter himself, and
he said--

"My Lord King, I will undertake to teach these princes Policy, seeing
they are born of a great house; for--

    "Labors spent on the unworthy, of reward the laborer balk;
    Like the parrot, teach the heron twenty times, he will not talk."

"But in this royal family the offspring are royal-minded, and in six
moons I will engage to make your Majesty's sons comprehend Policy."

The Raja replied, with condescension:--

    "On the eastern mountains lying, common things shine in the sun,
    And by learned minds enlightened, lower minds may show as one."

"And you, worshipful sir, are competent to teach my children the rules
of Policy."

So saying, with much graciousness, he gave the Princes into the charge
of Vishnu-Sarman; and that sage, by way of introduction, spake to the
Princes, as they sat at ease on the balcony of the palace, in this

"Hear now, my Princes! for the delectation of your Highnesses, I purpose
to tell the tale of the Crow, the Tortoise, the Deer, and the Mouse."

"Pray, sir," said the King's sons, "let us hear it."

Vishnu-Sarman answered--

"It begins with the Winning of Friends; and this is the first verse of

    "Sans way or wealth, wise friends their purpose gain--
    The Mouse, Crow, Deer, and Tortoise make this plain."

[2] The Vedas are the holy books of India. They are four in number: The
Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.


    Sans way or wealth, wise friends their purpose gain--
    The Mouse, Crow, Deer, and Tortoise make this plain."

"However was that?" asked the Princes.

Vishnu-Sarman replied:--

"On the banks of the Godavery there stood a large silk-cotton-tree, and
thither at night, from all quarters and regions, the birds came to
roost. Now once, when the night was just spent, and his Radiance the
Moon, Lover of the white lotus, was about to retire behind the western
hills, a Crow who perched there, 'Light o' Leap' by name, upon
awakening, saw to his great wonder a fowler approaching--a second God of
Death. The sight set him reflecting, as he flew off uneasily to follow
up the man's movements, and he began to think what mischief this
ill-omened apparition foretold.

    "For a thousand thoughts of sorrow, and a hundred things of dread,
    By the wise unheeded, trouble day by day the foolish head."

And yet in this life it must be that

    "Of the day's impending dangers, Sickness, Death, and Misery,
    One will be; the wise man waking, ponders which that one will be."

Presently the fowler fixed a net, scattered grains of rice about, and
withdrew to hide. At this moment "Speckle-neck," King of the Pigeons,
chanced to be passing through the sky with his Court, and caught sight
of the rice-grains. Thereupon the King of the Pigeons asked of his
rice-loving followers, 'How can there possibly be rice-grains lying here
in an unfrequented forest? We will see into it, of course, but We like
not the look of it--love of rice may ruin us, as the Traveller was

    "All out of longing for a golden bangle,
    The Tiger, in the mud, the man did mangle."

"How did that happen?" asked the Pigeons.


"Thus," replied Speckle-neck: "I was pecking about one day in the Deccan
forest, and saw an old tiger sitting newly bathed on the bank of a pool,
like a Brahman, and with holy kuskus-grass[3] in his paws.

'Ho! ho! ye travellers,' he kept calling out, 'take this golden bangle!'

Presently a covetous fellow passed by and heard him.

'Ah!' thought he, 'this is a bit of luck--but I must not risk my neck
for it either.

    "Good things come not out of bad things; wisely leave a longed-for ill.
    Nectar being mixed with poison serves no purpose but to kill."

'But all gain is got by risk, so I will see into it at least;' then he
called out, 'Where is thy bangle?'

The Tiger stretched forth his paw and exhibited it.

'Hem!' said the Traveller, 'can I trust such a fierce brute as thou

'Listen,' replied the Tiger, 'once, in the days of my cub-hood, I know I
was very wicked. I killed cows, Brahmans, and men without number--and I
lost my wife and children for it--and haven't kith or kin left. But
lately I met a virtuous man who counselled me to practise the duty of
almsgiving--and, as thou seest, I am strict at ablutions and alms.
Besides, I am old, and my nails and fangs are gone--so who would
mistrust me? and I have so far conquered selfishness, that I keep the
golden bangle for whoso comes. Thou seemest poor! I will give it thee.
Is it not said,

    'Give to poor men, son of Kûnti--on the wealthy waste not wealth;
    Good are simples for the sick man, good for nought to him in health.'

'Wade over the pool, therefore, and take the bangle,'

Thereupon the covetous Traveller determined to trust him, and waded into
the pool, where he soon found himself plunged in mud, and unable to

'Ho! ho!' says the Tiger, 'art thou stuck in a slough? stay, I will
fetch thee out!'

So saying he approached the wretched man and seized him--who meanwhile
bitterly reflected--

    'Be his Scripture-learning wondrous, yet the cheat will be a cheat;
    Be her pasture ne'er so bitter, yet the cow's milk will be sweet.'

And on that verse, too--

    'Trust not water, trust not weapons; trust not clawed nor horned
    Neither give thy soul to women, nor thy life to Sons of Kings.'

And those others--

    'Look! the Moon, the silver roamer, from whose splendor darkness flies
    With his starry cohorts marching, like a crowned king through the
    All the grandeur, all the glory, vanish in the Dragon's jaw;
    What is written on the forehead, that will be, and nothing more,'

Here his meditations were cut short by the Tiger devouring him. "And
that," said Speckle-neck, "is why we counselled caution."

"Why, yes!" said a certain pigeon, with some presumption, "but you've
read the verse--

    'Counsel in danger; of it
      Unwarned, be nothing begun.
    But nobody asks a Prophet
      Shall the risk of a dinner be run?'

Hearing that, the Pigeons settled at once; for we know that

    "Avarice begetteth anger; blind desires from her begin;
    A right fruitful mother is she of a countless spawn of sin.'

And again,

    'Can a golden Deer have being? yet for such the Hero pined:--
    When the cloud of danger hovers, then its shadow dims the mind.'

Presently they were caught in the net. Thereat, indeed, they all began
to abuse the pigeon by whose suggestion they had been ensnared. It is
the old tale!

    "Be second and not first!--the share's the same
    If all go well. If not, the Head's to blame."

And we should remember that

    "Passion will be Slave or Mistress: follow her, she brings to woe;
    Lead her, 'tis the way to Fortune. Choose the path that thou wilt go."

When King Speckle-neck heard their reproaches, he said, "No, no! it is
no fault of his.

'When the time of trouble cometh, friends may ofttimes irk us most: For
the calf at milking-hour the mother's leg is tying-post.'

'And in disaster, dismay is a coward's quality; let us rather rely on
fortitude, and devise some remedy. How saith the sage?

    "In good fortune not elated, in ill-fortune not dismayed,
    Ever eloquent in council, never in the fight affrayed--
    Proudly emulous of honor, steadfastly on wisdom set;
    Perfect virtues in the nature of a noble soul are met.
    Whoso hath them, gem and glory of the three wide worlds[4] is he;
    Happy mother she that bore him, she who nursed him on her knee."

"Let us do this now directly," continued the King: "at one moment and
with one will, rising under the net, let us fly off with it: for indeed

    'Small things wax exceeding mighty, being cunningly combined:--
    Furious elephants are fastened with a rope of grass-blades twined.'

"And it is written, you know,

    'Let the household hold together, though the house be ne'er so small;
    Strip the rice-husk from the rice-grain, and it groweth not at all.'

Having pondered this advice, the Pigeons adopted it; and flew away with
the net. At first the fowler, who was at a distance, hoped to recover
them, but as they passed out of sight with the snare about them he gave
up the pursuit. Perceiving this, the Pigeons said,

"What is the next thing to be done, O King?"

"A friend of mine," said Speckle-neck, "lives near in a beautiful forest
on the Gundaki. Golden-skin is his name--the King of the Mice--he is the
one to cut these bonds."

Resolving to have recourse to him, they directed their flight to the
hole of Golden-skin--a prudent monarch, who dreaded danger so much that
he had made himself a palace with a hundred outlets, and lived always in
it. Sitting there he heard the descent of the pigeons, and remained
silent and alarmed.

"Friend Golden-skin," cried the King, "have you no welcome for us?"

"Ah, my friend!" said the Mouse-king, rushing out on recognizing the
voice, "is it thou art come, Speckle-neck! how delightful!--But what is
this?" exclaimed he, regarding the entangled net.

"That," said King Speckle-neck, "is the effect of some wrong-doing in a
former life--

    'Sickness, anguish, bonds, and woe
    Spring from wrongs wrought long ago,'[5]

Golden-skin, without replying, ran at once to the net, and began to gnaw
the strings that held Speckle-neck.

"Nay! friend, not so," said the King, "cut me first these meshes from my
followers, and afterwards thou shalt sever mine."

"I am little," answered Golden-skin, "and my teeth are weak--how can I
gnaw so much? No! no! I will nibble your strings as long as my teeth
last, and afterwards do my best for the others. To preserve dependents
by sacrificing oneself is nowhere enjoined by wise moralists; on the

    'Keep wealth for want, but spend-it for thy wife,
    And wife, and wealth, and all to guard thy life,'

"Friend," replied King Speckle-neck, "that may be the rule of policy,
but I am one that can by no means bear to witness the distress of those
who depend on me, for--

    'Death, that must come, comes nobly when we give
    Our wealth, and life, and all, to make men live,'

And you know the verse,

    'Friend, art thou faithful? guard mine honor so!
    And let the earthy rotting body go,'"

When King Golden-skin heard this answer his heart was charmed, and his
fur bristled up for pure pleasure. "Nobly spoken, friend," said he,
"nobly spoken! with such a tenderness for those that look to thee, the
Sovereignty of the Three Worlds might be fitly thine." So saying he set
himself to cut all their bonds. This done, and the pigeons extricated,
the King of the Mice[6] gave them his formal welcome. "But, your
Majesty," he said, "this capture in the net was a work of destiny; you
must not blame yourself as you did, and suspect a former fault. Is it
not written--

    'Floating on his fearless pinions, lost amid the noon-day skies,
    Even thence the Eagle's vision kens the carcase where it lies;
    But the hour that comes to all things comes unto the Lord of Air,
    And he rushes, madly blinded, to his ruin in the snare,'"

With this correction Golden-skin proceeded to perform the duties of
hospitality, and afterwards, embracing and dismissing them, the pigeons
left for such destination as they fancied, and the King of the Mice
retired again into his hole.

Now Light o' Leap, the Crow, had been a spectator of the whole
transaction, and wondered at it so much that at last he called out, "Ho!
Golden-skin, thou very laudable Prince, let me too be a friend of thine,
and give me thy friendship."

"Who art thou?" said Golden-skin, who heard him, but would not come out
of his hole.

"I am the Crow Light o' Leap," replied the other.

"How can I possibly be on good terms with thee?" answered Golden-skin
with a laugh; "have you never read--

    'When Food is friends with Feeder, look for Woe,
    The Jackal ate the Deer, but for the Crow,'

"No! how was that?"

"I will tell thee," replied Golden-skin:--


"Far away in Behar there is a forest called Champak-Grove,[7] and in it
had long lived in much affection a Deer and a Crow. The Deer, roaming
unrestrained, happy and fat of carcase, was one day descried by a
Jackal. 'Ho! ho!' thought the Jackal on observing him, 'if I could but
get this soft meat for a meal! It might be--if I can only win his
confidence,' Thus reflecting he approached, and saluted him.

'Health be to thee, friend Deer!'

'Who art thou?' said the Deer.

'I'm Small-wit, the Jackal,' replied the other. 'I live in the wood
here, as the dead do, without a friend; but now that I have met with
such a friend as thou, I feel as if I were beginning life again with
plenty of relations. Consider me your faithful servant.'

'Very well,' said the Deer; and then, as the glorious King of Day, whose
diadem is the light, had withdrawn himself, the two went together to the
residence of the Deer. In that same spot, on a branch of Champak, dwelt
the Crow Sharp-sense, an old friend of the Deer. Seeing them approach
together, the Crow said,

'Who is this number two, friend Deer?'

'It is a Jackal,' answered the Deer, 'that desires our acquaintance.'

'You should not become friendly to a stranger without reason,' said
Sharp-sense. 'Don't you know?'

    "To folks by no one known house-room deny:--
    The Vulture housed the Cat, and thence did die."

'No! how was that?' said both.

'In this wise,' answered the Crow.


"On the banks of the Ganges there is a cliff called Vulture-Crag, and
thereupon grew a great fig-tree. It was hollow, and within its shelter
lived an old Vulture, named Grey-pate, whose hard fortune it was to have
lost both eyes and talons. The birds that roosted in the tree made
subscriptions from their own store, out of sheer pity for the poor
fellow, and by that means he managed to live. One day, when the old
birds were gone, Long-ear, the Cat, came there to get a meal of the
nestlings; and they, alarmed at perceiving him, set up a chirruping that
roused Grey-pate.

'Who comes there?' croaked Grey-pate.

"Now Long-ear, on espying the Vulture, thought himself undone; but as
flight was impossible, he resolved to trust his destiny and approach.

'My lord,' said he, 'I have the honor to salute thee.'

'Who is it?' said the Vulture.

'I am a Cat,'

'Be off, Cat, or I shall slay thee,' said the Vulture.

'I am ready to die if I deserve death,' answered the Cat; 'but let what
I have to say be heard,'

'Wherefore, then, comest thou?' said the Vulture.

'I live,' began Long-ear, 'on the Ganges, bathing, and eating no flesh,
practising the moon-penance,[8] like a Bramacharya. The birds that
resort thither constantly praise your worship to me as one wholly given
to the study of morality, and worthy of all trust; and so I came here to
learn law from thee, Sir, who art so deep gone in learning and in years.
Dost thou, then, so read the law of strangers as to be ready to slay a
guest? What say the books about the householder?--

    'Bar thy door not to the stranger, be he friend or be he foe,
    For the tree will shade the woodman while his axe doth lay it low,'

And if means fail, what there is should be given with kind words, as--

    'Greeting fair, and room to rest in; fire, and water from the well--
    Simple gifts--are given freely in the house where good men dwell,'--

and without respect of person--

    'Young, or bent with many winters; rich, or poor, whate'er thy guest,
    Honor him for thine own honor--better is he than the best,'

Else comes the rebuke--

    'Pity them that ask thy pity: who art thou to stint thy hoard,
    When the holy moon shines equal on the leper and the lord!'

And that other, too,

    'When thy gate is roughly fastened, and the asker turns away,
    Thence he bears thy good deeds with him, and his sins on thee doth lay

For verily,

    'In the house the husband ruleth, men the Brahmans "master" call;
    Agni is the Twice-born Master--but the guest is lord of all,'

"To these weighty words Grey-pate answered,

'Yes! but cats like meat, and there are young birds here, and therefore
I said, go,'

'Sir,' said the Cat (and as he spoke he touched the ground, and then his
two ears, and called on Krishna to witness to his words), 'I that have
overcome passion, and practised the moon-penance, know the Scriptures;
and howsoever they contend, in this primal duty of abstaining from
injury they are unanimous. Which of them sayeth not--

    'He who does and thinks no wrong--
    He who suffers, being strong--
    He whose harmlessness men know--
    Unto Swerga such doth go.'

"And so, winning the old Vulture's confidence, Long-ear, the Cat,
entered the hollow tree and lived there. And day after day he stole away
some of the nestlings, and brought them down to the hollow to devour.
Meantime the parent birds, whose little ones were being eaten, made an
inquiry after them in all quarters; and the Cat, discovering this fact,
slipped out from the hollow, and made his escape. Afterwards, when the
birds came to look closely, they found the bones of their young ones in
the hollow of the tree where Grey-pate lived; and the birds at once
concluded that their nestlings had been killed and eaten by the old
Vulture, whom they accordingly executed. That is my story, and why I
warned you against unknown acquaintances."

"Sir," said the Jackal, with some warmth, "on the first day of your
encountering the Deer you also were of unknown family and character: how
is it, then, that your friendship with him grows daily greater? True, I
am only Small-wit, the Jackal, but what says the saw?--

    "In the land where no wise men are, men of little wit are lords;
    And the castor-oil's a tree, where no tree else its shade affords."

The Deer is my friend; condescend, sir, to be my friend also."

'Oh!' broke in the Deer, 'why so much talking? We'll all live together,
and be friendly and happy--

    'Foe is friend, and friend is foe,
    As our actions make them so,'

"Very good," said Sharp-sense; "as you will;" and in the morning each
started early for his own feeding-ground (returning at night). One day
the Jackal drew the Deer aside, and whispered, 'Deer, in one corner of
this wood there is a field full of sweet young wheat; come and let me
show you.' The Deer accompanied him, and found the field, and afterwards
went every day there to eat the green corn, till at last the owner of
the ground spied him and set a snare. The Deer came again very shortly,
and was caught in it, and (after vainly struggling) exclaimed, 'I am
fast in the net, and it will be a net of death to me if no friend comes
to rescue me!' Presently Small-wit, the Jackal, who had been lurking
near, made his appearance, and standing still, he said to himself, with
a chuckle, 'O ho! my scheme bears fruit! When he is cut up, his bones,
and gristle, and blood, will fall to my share and make me some beautiful
dinners,' The Deer, here catching sight of him, exclaimed with rapture,
'Ah, friend, this is excellent! Do but gnaw these strings, and I shall
be at liberty. How charming to realize the saying!--

    'That friend only is the true friend who is near when trouble comes;
    That man only is the brave man who can bear the battle-drums;
    Words are wind; deed proveth promise: he who helps at need is kin;
    And the leal wife is loving though the husband lose or win,'

And is it not written--

    'Friend and kinsman--more their meaning than the idle-hearted mind.
    Many a friend can prove unfriendly, many a kinsman less than kind:
    He who shares his comrade's portion, be he beggar, be he lord,
    Comes as truly, comes as duly, to the battle as the board--
    Stands before the king to succor, follows to the pile to sigh--
    He is friend, and he is kinsman--less would make the name a lie.'

"Small-wit answered nothing, but betook himself to examining the snare
very closely.

'This will certainly hold,' muttered he; then, turning to the Deer, he
said, 'Good friend, these strings, you see, are made of sinew, and
to-day is a fast-day, so that I cannot possibly bite them. To-morrow
morning, if you still desire it, I shall be happy to serve you,'

When he was gone, the Crow, who had missed the Deer upon returning that
evening, and had sought for him everywhere, discovered him; and seeing
his sad plight, exclaimed--

'How came this about, my friend?'

'This came,' replied the Deer, 'through disregarding a friend's advice,'

'Where is that rascal Small-wit?' asked the Crow.

'He is waiting somewhere by,' said the Deer, 'to taste my flesh,'

'Well,' sighed the Crow, 'I warned you; but it is as in the true verse--

    'Stars gleam, lamps flicker, friends foretell of fate;
    The fated sees, knows, hears them--all too late.'

And then, with a deeper sigh, he exclaimed,'Ah, traitor Jackal, what an
ill deed hast thou done! Smooth-tongued knave--alas!--and in the face of
the monition too--

    'Absent, flatterers' tongues are daggers--present, softer than the
    Shun them! 'tis a jar of poison hidden under harmless milk;
    Shun them when they promise little! Shun them when they promise much!
    For, enkindled, charcoal burneth--cold, it doth defile the touch.'

When the day broke, the Crow (who was still there) saw the master of the
field approaching with his club in his hand.

'Now, friend Deer,' said Sharp-sense on perceiving him, 'do thou cause
thyself to seem like one dead: puff thy belly up with wind, stiffen thy
legs out, and lie very still. I will make a show of pecking thine eyes
out with my beak; and whensoever I utter a croak, then spring to thy
feet and betake thee to flight.'

The Deer thereon placed himself exactly as the Crow suggested, and was
very soon espied by the husbandman, whose eyes opened with joy at the

'Aha!' said he, 'the fellow has died of himself,' and so speaking, he
released the Deer from the snare, and proceeded to gather and lay aside
his nets. At that instant Sharp-sense uttered a loud croak, and the Deer
sprang up and made off. And the club which the husbandman flung after
him in a rage struck Small-wit, the Jackal (who was close by), and
killed him. Is it not said, indeed?--

    'In years, or moons, or half-moons three,
    Or in three days--suddenly,
    Knaves are shent--true men go free,'

"Thou seest, then," said Golden-skin, "there can be no friendship
between food and feeder."

"I should hardly," replied the Crow, "get a large breakfast out of your
worship; but as to that indeed you have nothing to fear from me. I am
not often angry, and if I were, you know--

    'Anger comes to noble natures, but leaves there no strife or storm:
    Plunge a lighted torch beneath it, and the ocean grows not warm.'

"Then, also, thou art such a gad-about," objected the King.

"Maybe," answered Light o' Leap; "but I am bent on winning thy
friendship, and I will die at thy door of fasting if thou grantest it
not. Let us be friends! for

    'Noble hearts are golden vases--close the bond true metals make;
    Easily the smith may weld them, harder far it is to break.
    Evil hearts are earthen vessels--at a touch they crack a-twain,
    And what craftsman's ready cunning can unite the shards again?'

And then, too,

    'Good men's friendships may be broken, yet abide they friends at heart;
    Snap the stem of Luxmee's lotus, and its fibres will not part.'

"Good sir," said the King of the Mice, "your conversation is as pleasing
as pearl necklets or oil of sandal-wood in hot weather. Be it as you
will"--and thereon King Golden-skin made a treaty with the Crow, and
after gratifying him with the best of his store reëntered his hole. The
Crow returned to his accustomed perch:--and thenceforward the time
passed in mutual presents of food, in polite inquiries, and the most
unrestrained talk. One day Light o' Leap thus accosted Golden-skin:--

"This is a poor place, your Majesty, for a Crow to get a living in. I
should like to leave it and go elsewhere."

"Whither wouldst thou go?" replied the King; they say,

    'One foot goes, and one foot stands,
    When the wise man leaves his lands.'

"And they say, too," answered the Crow,

    'Over-love of home were weakness; wheresoever the hero come,
    Stalwart arm and steadfast spirit find or win for him a home.

    Little recks the awless lion where his hunting jungles lie--
    When he enters it be certain that a royal prey shall die,'

"I know an excellent jungle now."

"Which is that?" asked the Mouse-king.

"In the Nerbudda woods, by Camphor-water," replied the Crow. "There is
an old and valued friend of mine lives there--Slow-toes his name is, a
very virtuous Tortoise; he will regale me with fish and good things."

"Why should I stay behind," said Golden-skin, "if thou goest? Take me

Accordingly, the two set forth together, enjoying charming converse upon
the road. Slow-toes perceived Light o' Leap a long way off, and hastened
to do him the guest-rites, extending them to the Mouse upon Light o'
Leap's introduction.

"Good Slow-toes," said he, "this is Golden-skin, King of the Mice--pay
all honor to him--he is burdened with virtues--a very jewel-mine of
kindnesses. I don't know if the Prince of all the Serpents, with his two
thousand tongues, could rightly repeat them." So speaking, he told the
story of Speckle-neck. Thereupon Slow-toes made a profound obeisance to
Golden-skin, and said, "How came your Majesty, may I ask, to retire to
an unfrequented forest?"

"I will tell you," said the King. "You must know that in the town of
Champaka there is a college for the devotees. Unto this resorted daily a
beggar-priest, named Chudakarna, whose custom was to place his
begging-dish upon the shelf, with such alms in it as he had not eaten,
and go to sleep by it; and I, so soon as he slept, used to jump up, and
devour the meal. One day a great friend of his, named Vinakarna, also a
mendicant, came to visit him; and observed that while conversing, he
kept striking the ground with a split cane, to frighten me. 'Why don't
you listen?' said Vinakarna. 'I am listening!' replied the other; 'but
this plaguy mouse is always eating the meal out of my begging-dish,'
Vinakarna looked at the shelf and remarked, 'However can a mouse jump as
high as this? There must be a reason, though there seems none. I guess
the cause--the fellow is well off and fat,' With these words Vinakarna
snatched up a shovel, discovered my retreat, and took away all my hoard
of provisions. After that I lost strength daily, had scarcely energy
enough to get my dinner, and, in fact, crept about so wretchedly, that
when Chudakarna saw me he fell to quoting--

    'Very feeble folk are poor folk; money lost takes wit away:--
    All their doings fail like runnels, wasting through the summer day.'

"Yes!" I thought, "he is right, and so are the sayings--

    'Wealth is friends, home, father, brother--title to respect and fame;
     Yea, and wealth is held for wisdom--that it should be so is shame,'
    'Home is empty to the childless; hearts to them who friends deplore:--
     Earth unto the idle-minded; and the three worlds to the poor.'

'I can stay here no longer; and to tell my distress to another is out of
the question--altogether out of the question!--

    'Say the sages, nine things name not: Age, domestic joys and woes,
    Counsel, sickness, shame, alms, penance; neither Poverty disclose.
    Better for the proud of spirit, death, than life with losses told;
    Fire consents to be extinguished, but submits not to be cold.'

'Verily he was wise, methought also, who wrote--

    'As Age doth banish beauty,
      As moonlight dies in gloom,
    As Slavery's menial duty
      Is Honor's certain tomb;
    As Hari's name and Hara's
      Spoken, charm sin away,
    So Poverty can surely
      A hundred virtues slay.'

'And as to sustaining myself on another man's bread, that,' I mused,
'would be but a second door of death. Say not the books the same?--

    'Half-known knowledge, present pleasure purchased with a future woe,
    And to taste the salt of service--greater griefs no man can know.'

'And herein, also--

    'All existence is not equal, and all living is not life;
    Sick men live; and he who, banished, pines for children, home, and
    And the craven-hearted eater of another's leavings lives,
    And the wretched captive waiting for the word of doom survives;
    But they bear an anguished body, and they draw a deadly breath,
    And life cometh to them only on the happy day of death.'

Yet, after all these reflections, I was covetous enough to make one
more attempt on Chudakarna's meal, and got a blow from the split cane
for my pains. 'Just so,' I said to myself, 'the soul and organs of the
discontented want keeping in subjection. I must be done with

'Golden gift, serene Contentment! have thou that, and all is had; Thrust
thy slipper on, and think thee that the earth is leather-clad.'

'All is known, digested, tested; nothing new is left to learn When the
soul, serene, reliant, Hope's delusive dreams can spurn.'

'And the sorry task of seeking favor is numbered in the miseries of

'Hast thou never watched, a-waiting till the great man's door unbarred?
Didst thou never linger parting, saying many a last sad word? Spak'st
thou never word of folly, one light thing thou wouldst recall? Rare and
noble hath thy life been! fair thy fortune did befall!'

'No!' exclaimed I, 'I will do none of these; but, by retiring into the
quiet and untrodden forest, I will show my discernment of real good and
ill. The holy Books counsel it--

'True Religion!--'tis not blindly prating what the priest may prate, But
to love, as God hath loved them, all things, be they small or great; And
true bliss is when a sane mind doth a healthy body fill; And true
knowledge is the knowing what is good and what is ill.'

"So came I to the forest, where, by good fortune and this good friend, I
met much kindness; and by the same good fortune have encountered you,
Sir, whose friendliness is as Heaven to me. Ah! Sir Tortoise,

    'Poisonous though the tree of life be, two fair blossoms grow thereon:
    One, the company of good men; and sweet songs of Poet's, one.'

"King!" said Slow-toes, "your error was getting too much, without
giving. Give, says the sage--

    'Give, and it shall swell thy getting; give, and thou shalt safer keep:
    Pierce the tank-wall; or it yieldeth, when the water waxes deep.'

And he is very hard upon money-grubbing: as thus--

    'When the miser hides his treasure in the earth, he doeth well;
    For he opens up a passage that his soul may sink to hell,'

And thus--

    'He whose coins are kept for counting, not to barter nor to give,
    Breathe he like a blacksmith's bellows, yet in truth he doth not live.'

It hath been well written, indeed,

    'Gifts, bestowed with words of kindness, making giving doubly dear:--
    Wisdom, deep, complete, benignant, of all arrogancy clear;
    Valor, never yet forgetful of sweet Mercy's pleading prayer;
    Wealth, and scorn of wealth to spend it--oh! but these be virtues

"Frugal one may be," continued Slow-toes; "but not a niggard like the

    'The Jackal-knave, that starved his spirit so,
    And died of saving, by a broken bow.'

"Did he, indeed," said Golden-skin; "and how was that?"

"I will tell you," answered Slow-toes:--


"In a town called 'Well-to-Dwell' there lived a mighty hunter, whose
name was 'Grim-face,' Feeling a desire one day for a little venison, he
took his bow, and went into the woods; where he soon killed a deer. As
he was carrying the deer home, he came upon a wild boar of prodigious
proportions. Laying the deer upon the earth, he fixed and discharged an
arrow and struck the boar, which instantly rushed upon him with a roar
louder than the last thunder, and ripped the hunter up. He fell like a
tree cut by the axe, and lay dead along with the boar, and a snake also,
which had been crushed by the feet of the combatants. Not long
afterwards, there came that way, in his prowl for food, a Jackal, named
'Howl o' Nights,' and cast eyes on the hunter, the deer, the boar, and
the snake lying dead together. 'Aha!' said he, 'what luck! Here's a
grand dinner got ready for me! Good fortune can come, I see, as well as
ill fortune. Let me think:--the man will be fine pickings for a month;
the deer with the boar will last two more; the snake will do for
to-morrow; and, as I am very particularly hungry, I will treat myself
now to this bit of meat on the bow-horn,' So saying, he began to gnaw it
asunder, and the bow-string slipping, the bow sprang back, and resolved
Howl o' Nights into the five elements by death. That is my story,"
continued Slow-toes, "and its application is for the wise:--

    'Sentences of studied wisdom, nought avail they unapplied;
    Though the blind man hold a lantern, yet his footsteps stray aside.'

The secret of success, indeed, is a free, contented, and yet
enterprising mind. How say the books thereon?--

    'Wouldst thou know whose happy dwelling Fortune entereth unknown?
    His, who careless of her favor, standeth fearless in his own;
    His, who for the vague to-morrow barters not the sure to-day--
    Master of himself, and sternly steadfast to the rightful way:
    Very mindful of past service, valiant, faithful, true of heart--
    Unto such comes Lakshmi[9] smiling--comes, and will not lightly part.'

"What indeed," continued Slow-toes, "is wealth, that we should prize it,
or grieve to lose it?--

    'Be not haughty, being wealthy; droop not, having lost thine all;
    Fate doth play with mortal fortunes as a girl doth toss her ball.'

It is unstable by nature. We are told--

    'Worldly friendships, fair but fleeting, shadows of the clouds at noon
    Women, youth, new corn, and riches--these be pleasures passing soon.'

And it is idle to be anxious; the Master of Life knows how to sustain
it. Is it not written?--

    'For thy bread be not o'er thoughtful--God for all hath taken thought:
    When the babe is born, the sweet milk to the mother's breast is

    He who gave the swan her silver, and the hawk her plumes of pride,
    And his purples to the peacock--He will verily provide.'

"Yes, verily," said Slow-toes, "wealth is bad to handle, and better left
alone; there is no truer saying than this--

    'Though for good ends, waste not on wealth a minute;
    Mud may be wiped, but wise men plunge not in it.'

Hearing the wisdom of these monitions, Light o' Leap broke out, 'Good
Slow-toes! thou art a wise protector of those that come to thee; thy
learning comforts my enlightened friend, as elephants drag elephants
from the mire,' And thus, on the best of terms, wandering where they
pleased for food, the three lived there together.

One day it chanced that a Deer named Dapple-back, who had seen some
cause of alarm in the forest, came suddenly upon the three in his
flight. Thinking the danger imminent, Slow-toes dropped into the water,
King Golden-skin slipped into his hole, and Light o' Leap flew up into
the top of a high tree. Thence he looked all round to a great distance,
but could discover nothing. So they all came back again, and sat down
together. Slow-toes welcomed the Deer.

'Good Deer,' said he, 'may grass and water never fail thee at thy need.
Gratify us by residing here, and consider this forest thine own.'

'Indeed,' answered Dapple-back, 'I came hither for your protection,
flying from a hunter; and to live with you in friendship is my greatest

'Then the thing is settled,' observed Golden-skin.

'Yes! yes!' said Light o' Leap, 'make yourself altogether at home!'

So the Deer, charmed at his reception, ate grass and drank water, and
laid himself down in the shade of a Banyan-tree to talk. Who does not

    'Brunettes, and the Banyan's shadow,
      Well-springs, and a brick-built wall.
    Are all alike cool in the summer,
      And warm in the winter--all.'

'What made thee alarmed, friend Deer?' began Slow-toes. 'Do hunters ever
come to this unfrequented forest?'

'I have heard,' replied Dapple-back, 'that the Prince of the Kalinga
country, Rukmangada, is coming here. He is even now encamped on the
Cheenab River, on his march to subjugate the borders; and the hunters
have been heard to say that he will halt to-morrow by this very lake of
"Camphor-water." Don't you think, as it is dangerous to stay, that we
ought to resolve on something?'

'I shall certainly go to another pool,' exclaimed Slow-toes.

'It would be better,' answered the Crow and Deer together.

'Yes!' remarked the King of the Mice, after a minute's thought; 'but how
is Slow-toes to get across the country in time? Animals like our
amphibious host are best in the water; on land he might suffer from his
own design, like the merchant's son--

    'The merchant's son laid plans for gains,
    And saw his wife kissed for his pains.'

'How came that about?' asked all. "I'll tell you," answered Golden-skin.


"In the country of Kanouj there was a King named Virasena, and he made
his son viceroy of a city called Virapoora. The Prince was rich,
handsome, and in the bloom of youth. Passing through the streets of his
city one day, he observed a very lovely woman, whose name was
Lávanyavati--i.e., the Beautiful--the wife of a merchant's son. On
reaching his palace, full of her charms and of passionate admiration for
them, he despatched a message to her, and a letter, by a female
attendant:--who wonders at it?--

    'Ah! the gleaming, glancing arrows of a lovely woman's eye!
    Feathered with her jetty lashes, perilous they pass us by:--
    Loosed at venture from the black bows of her arching brow they part,
    All too penetrant and deadly for an undefended heart.'

Now Lávanyavati, from the moment she saw the Prince, was hit with the
same weapon of love that wounded him; but upon hearing the message of
the attendant, she refused with dignity to receive his letter.

'I am my husband's,' she said, 'and that is my honor; for--

    'Beautiful the Koíl[10] seemeth for the sweetness of his song,
    Beautiful the world esteemeth pious souls for patience strong;
    Homely features lack not favor when true wisdom they reveal,
    And a wife is fair and honored while her heart is firm and leal.'

What the lord of my life enjoins, that I do.'

'Is such my answer?' asked the attendant.

'It is,' said Lávanyavati.

Upon the messenger reporting her reply to the Prince, he was in despair.

'The God of the five shafts has hit me,' he exclaimed, 'and only her
presence will cure my wound.'

'We must make her husband bring her, then,' said the messenger.

'That can never be,' replied the Prince.

'It can,' replied the messenger--

    'Fraud may achieve what force would never try:--
    The Jackal killed the Elephant thereby.'

'How was that?' asked the Prince. The Slave related:--


"In the forest of Brahma[11] lived an Elephant, whose name was
'White-front.' The Jackals knew him, and said among themselves, 'If this
great brute would but die, there would be four months' food for us, and
plenty, out of his carcase.' With that an old Jackal stood up, and
pledged himself to compass the death of the Elephant by his own wit.
Accordingly, he sought for 'White-front,' and, going up to him, he made
the reverential prostration of the eight members, gravely saluting him.

'Divine creature,' said he, 'vouchsafe me the regard of one look.'

'Who art thou?' grunted the Elephant,'and whence comest thou?'

'I am only a Jackal,' said the other; 'but the beasts of the forest are
convinced that it is not expedient to live without a king, and they have
met in full council, and despatched me to acquaint your Royal Highness
that on you, endowed with so many lordly qualities, their choice has
fallen for a sovereign over the forest here; for--

    'Who is just, and strong, and wise?
    Who is true to social ties?
    He is formed for Emperies.

Let your Majesty, therefore, repair thither at once, that the moment of
fortunate conjunction may not escape us.' So saying he led the way,
followed at a great pace by White-front, who was eager to commence his

"Presently the Jackal brought him upon a deep slough, into which he
plunged heavily before he could stop himself.

'Good master Jackal,' cried the Elephant,'what's to do now? I am up to
my belly in this quagmire.'

'Perhaps your Majesty,' said the Jackal, with an impudent laugh, 'will
condescend to take hold of the tip of my brush with your trunk, and so
get out.'

'Then White-front, the Elephant, knew that he had been deceived; and
thus he sank in the slime, and was devoured by the Jackals. Hence,'
continued the attendant, 'is why I suggested stratagem to your

Shortly afterwards, by the Slave's advice, the Prince sent for the
merchant's son (whose name was Charudatta), and appointed him to be near
his person; and one day, with the same design, when he was just come
from the bath, and had on his jewels, he summoned Charudatta, and said--

"I have a vow to keep to Gauri--bring hither to me every evening for a
month some lady of good family, that I may do honor to her, according to
my vow; and begin to-day."

Charudatta in due course brought a lady of quality, and, having
introduced her, retired to watch the interview. The Prince, without even
approaching his fair visitor, made her the most respectful obeisances,
and dismissed her with gifts of ornaments, sandal-wood, and perfumes,
under the protection of a guard. This made Charudatta confident, and
longing to get some of these princely presents he brought his own wife
next evening. When the Prince recognized the charming Lávanyavati--the
joy of his soul--he sprang to meet her, and kissed and caressed her
without the least restraint. At sight of this the miserable Charudatta
stood transfixed with despair--the very picture of wretchedness'----

'And you too, Slow-toes--but where is he gone?' abruptly asked King

Now Slow-toes had not chosen to wait the end of the story, but was gone
before, and Golden-skin and the others followed him up in some anxiety.
The Tortoise had been painfully travelling along, until a hunter, who
was beating the wood for game, had overtaken him. The fellow, who was
very hungry, picked him up, fastened him on his bow-stick, and set off
for home; while the Deer, the Crow, and the Mouse, who had witnessed
the capture, followed them in terrible concern. 'Alas!' cried the
Mouse-king, 'he is gone!--and such a friend!

    'Friend! gracious word!--the heart to tell is ill able
    Whence came to men this jewel of a syllable.'

'Let us,' continued he to his companions, 'let us make one attempt, at
least, to rescue Slow-toes before the hunter is out of the wood!'

'Only tell us how to do it,' replied they.

'Do thus,' said Golden-skin: 'let Dapple-back hasten on to the water,
and lie down there and make himself appear dead; and do you, Light o'
Leap, hover over him and peck about his body. The hunter is sure to put
the Tortoise down to get the venison, and I will gnaw his bonds.'

'The Deer and the Crow started at once; and the hunter, who was sitting
down to rest under a tree and drinking water, soon caught sight of the
Deer, apparently dead. Drawing his wood-knife, and putting the Tortoise
down by the water, he hastened to secure the Deer, and Golden-skin, in
the meantime, gnawed asunder the string that held Slow-toes, who
instantly dropped into the pool. The Deer, of course, when the hunter
got near, sprang up and made off, and when he returned to the tree the
Tortoise was gone also. "I deserve this," thought he--

    'Whoso for greater quits his gain,
    Shall have his labor for his pain;
    The things unwon unwon remain,
    And what was won is lost again.'

And so lamenting, he went to his village. Slow-toes and his friends,
quit of all fears, repaired together to their new habitations, and there
lived happily.

Then spake the King Sudarsana's sons, "We have heard every word, and are
delighted; it fell out just as we wished."

"I rejoice thereat, my Princes," said Vishnu-Sarman; "may it also fall
out according to this my wish--

    "Lakshmi give you friends like these!
    Lakshmi keep your lands in ease!
    Set, your sovereign thrones beside,
    Policy, a winsome bride!
    And He, whose forehead-jewel is the moon
    Give peace to us and all--serene and soon."

[3] Used in many religious observances by the Hindoos.

[4] Heaven, earth, and the lower regions.

[5] The Hindoo accounts for the origin of evil by this theory of a
series of existences continued until the balance is just, and the soul
has purified itself. Every fault must have its expiation and every
higher faculty its development; pain and misery being signs of the
ordeals in the trial, which is to end in the happy re-absorption of the
emancipated spirit.

[6] The mouse, as vehicle of Gunesh, is an important animal in Hindoo

[7] The champak is a bushy tree, bearing a profusion of star-like
blossoms with golden centres, and of the most pleasing perfume.

[8] A religious observance. The devotee commences the penance at the
full moon with an allowance of fifteen mouthfuls for his food,
diminishing this by one mouthful each day, till on the fifteenth it is
reduced to one. As the new moon increases, his allowance ascends to its
original proportion.

[9] The wife of Vishnoo, Goddess of beauty and abundance.

[10] The black or Indian cuckoo.

[11] A grove where the Vedas are read and expounded.


Then spake the Royal Princes to Vishnu-Sarman,

"Reverend Sir! we have listened to the 'Winning of Friends,' we would
now hear how friends are parted."

"Attend, then," replied the Sage, "to 'the Parting of Friends,' the
first couplet of which runs in this wise--

    'The Jackal set--of knavish cunning full--
    At loggerheads the Lion and the Bull.'

"How was that?" asked the sons of the Rajah.

Vishnu-Sarman proceeded to relate:--


"In the Deccan there is a city called Golden-town, and a wealthy
merchant lived there named Well-to-do. He had abundant means, but as
many of his relations were even yet richer, his mind was bent: upon
outdoing them by gaining more. Enough is never what we have--

    'Looking down on lives below them, men of little store are great;
    Looking up to higher fortunes, hard to each man seems his fate.'

And is not wealth won by courage and enterprise?--

    'As a bride, unwisely wedded, shuns the cold caress of eld,
    So, from coward souls and slothful, Lakshmi's favors turn repelled.'

    'Ease, ill-health, home-keeping, sleeping, woman-service, and content--
    In the path that leads to greatness these be six obstructions sent.'

And wealth that increases not, diminishes--a little gain is so far

    'Seeing how the soorma wasteth, seeing how the ant-hill grows,
    Little adding unto little--live, give, learn, as life-time goes.'

    'Drops of water falling, falling, falling, brim the chatty o'er;
    Wisdom comes in little lessons--little gains make largest store.'

Moved by these reflections Well-to-do loaded a cart with wares of all
kinds, yoked two bulls to it, named Lusty-life and Roarer, and started
for Kashmir to trade. He had not gone far upon his journey when in
passing through a great forest called Bramble-wood, Lusty-life slipped
down and broke his foreleg. At sight of this disaster Well-to-do fell
a-thinking, and repeated--

    'Men their cunning schemes may spin--
    God knows who shall lose or win.'

Comforting himself with such philosophy, Well-to-do left Lusty-life
there, and went on his way. The Bull watched him depart, and stood
mournfully on three legs, alone in the forest. 'Well, well,' he thought,
'it is all destiny whether I live or die:--

    'Shoot a hundred shafts, the quarry lives and flies--not due to death;
    When his hour is come, a grass-blade hath a point to stop his breath.'

As the days passed by, and Lusty-life picked about in the tender forest
grass, he grew wonderfully well, and fat of carcase, and happy, and
bellowed about the wood as though it were his own. Now, the reigning
monarch of the forest was King Tawny-hide the Lion, who ruled over the
whole country absolutely, by right of having deposed everybody else. Is
not might right?--

    'Robes were none, nor oil of unction, when the King of Beasts was
    'Twas his own fierce roar proclaimed him, rolling all his kingdom

One morning, his Majesty, being exceedingly thirsty, had repaired to the
bank of the Jumna to drink water, and just as he was about to lap it,
the bellow of Lusty-life, awful as the thunder of the last day, reached
the imperial ears. Upon catching the sound the King retreated in
trepidation to his own lair, without drinking a drop, and stood there in
silence and alarm revolving what it could mean. In this position he was
observed by the sons of his minister, two jackals named Karataka and
Damanaka, who began to remark upon it.

'Friend Karataka,' said the last,'what makes our royal master slink away
from the river when he was dying to drink?'

'Why should we care?' replied Karataka. 'It's bad enough to serve him,
and be neglected for our pains--

    'Oh, the bitter salt of service!--toil, frost, fire, are not so keen:--
    Half such heavy penance bearing, tender consciences were clean.'

'Nay, friend! never think thus,' said Damanaka--

    'What but for their vassals,
    Elephant and man--
    Swing of golden tassels,
    Wave of silken fan--
    But for regal manner
    That the "Chattra"[12] brings,
    Horse, and foot, and banner--
    What would come of kings?'

'I care not,' replied Karataka; 'we have nothing to do with it, and
matters that don't concern us are best left alone. You know the story of
the Monkey, don't you?'--

    'The Monkey drew the sawyer's wedge, and died:--
    Let meddlers mark it, and be edified.'

'No!' said Damanaka. 'How was it?'

'In this way,' answered Karataka:--


"In South Behar, close by the retreat of Dhurmma, there was an open plot
of ground, upon which a temple was in course of erection, under the
management of a man of the Káyeth caste, named Subhadatta. A carpenter
upon the works had partly sawed through a long beam of wood, and wedged
it open, and was gone away, leaving the wedge fixed. Shortly afterwards
a large herd of monkeys came frolicking that way, and one of their
number, directed doubtless by the Angel of death, got astride the beam,
and grasped the wedge, with his tail and lower parts dangling down
between the pieces of the wood. Not content with this, in the mischief
natural to monkeys, he began to tug at the wedge; till at last it
yielded to a great effort and came out; when the wood closed upon him,
and jammed him all fast. So perished the monkey, miserably crushed; and
I say again--

    'Let meddlers mark it, and be edified.'

'But surely,' argued Damanaka, 'servants are bound to watch the
movements of their masters!'

'Let the prime minister do it, then,' answered Karataka; 'it is his
business to overlook things, and subordinates shouldn't interfere in the
department of their chief. You might get ass's thanks for it--

    'The Ass that hee-hawed, when the dog should do it,
    For his lord's welfare, like an ass did rue it.'

Damanaka asked how that happened, and Karataka related:--


"There was a certain Washerman at Benares, whose name was Carpúrapataka,
and he had an Ass and a Dog in his courtyard; the first tethered, and
the last roaming loose. Once on a time, when he had been spending his
morning in the society of his wife, whom he had just married, and had
fallen to sleep in her arms, a robber entered the house, and began to
carry off his goods. The Ass observed the occupation of the thief, and
was much concerned.

'Good Dog,' said he, 'this is thy matter: why dost thou not bark aloud,
and rouse the master?'

'Gossip Ass,' replied the Dog, 'leave me alone to guard the premises. I
can do it, if I choose; but the truth is, this master of ours thinks
himself so safe lately that he clean forgets me, and I don't find my
allowance of food nearly regular enough. Masters will do so; and a
little fright will put him in mind of his defenders again.'

'Thou scurvy cur!' exclaimed the Ass--

'At the work-time, asking wages--is it like a faithful herd?'

'Thou extreme Ass!' replied the Dog.

'When the work's done, grudging wages--is that acting like a lord?'

'Mean-spirited beast,' retorted the Ass, 'who neglectest thy master's
business! Well, then, I at least will endeavor to arouse him; it is no
less than religion,

    'Serve the Sun with sweat of body; starve thy maw to feed the flame;
    Stead thy lord with all thy service; to thy death go, quit of blame.'

So saying, he put forth his very best braying. The Washerman sprang up
at the noise, and missing the thief, turned in a rage upon the Ass for
disturbing him, and beat it with a cudgel to such an extent that the
blows resolved the poor animal into the five elements of death. 'So
that,' continued Karataka, 'is why I say, Let the prime minister look to
him. The hunting for prey is our duty--let us stick to it, then. And
this,' he said, with a meditative look, 'need not trouble us to-day; for
we have a capital dish of the royal leavings.'

'What!' said Damanaka, rough with rage, 'dost thou serve the King for
the sake of thy belly? Why take any such trouble to preserve an
existence like thine?--

    'Many prayers for him are uttered whereon many a life relies;
    'Tis but one poor fool the fewer when the gulping Raven dies.'

For assisting friends, and defeating enemies also, the service of kings
is desirable. To enter upon it for a mere living makes the thing low
indeed. There must be dogs and elephants; but servants need not be like
hungry curs, while their masters are noble. What say the books?

    'Give thy Dog the merest mouthful, and he crouches at thy feet,
    Wags his tail, and fawns, and grovels, in his eagerness to eat;
    Bid the Elephant be feeding, and the best of fodder bring;
    Gravely--after much entreaty--condescends that mighty king.'

'Well, well!' said Karataka; 'the books are nothing to us, who are not

'But we may come to be,' replied Damanaka; 'men rise, not by chance or
nature, but by exertions--

    'By their own deeds men go downward, by them men mount upward all,
    Like the diggers of a well, and like the builders of a wall.'

Advancement is slow--but that is in the nature of things--

    'Rushes down the hill the crag, which upward 'twas so hard to roll:
    So to virtue slowly rises--so to vice quick sinks the soul.'

'Very good,' observed Karataka; 'but what is all this talk about?'

'Why! don't you see our Royal Master there, and how he came home without
drinking? I know he has been horribly frightened,' said Damanaka.

'How do you know it?' asked the other.

'By my perception--at a glance!' replied Damanaka; 'and I mean to make
out of this occasion that which shall put his Majesty at my disposal,'

'Now,' exclaimed Karataka, 'it is thou who art ignorant about service--

    'Who speaks unasked, or comes unbid,
    Or counts on favor--will be chid.'

'I ignorant about service!' said Damanaka; 'no, no, my friend, I know
the secret of it--

    'Wise, modest, constant, ever close at hand,
    Not weighing but obeying all command,
    Such servant by a Monarch's throne may stand.'

'In any case, the King often rates thee,' remarked Karataka, 'for coming
to the presence unsummoned.'

'A dependent,' replied Damanaka, 'should nevertheless present himself;
he must make himself known to the great man, at any risk--

    'Pitiful, that fearing failure, therefore no beginning makes,
    Who forswears his daily dinner for the chance of stomach-aches?'

and besides, to be near is at last to be needful;--is it not said--

    'Nearest to the King is dearest, be thy merit low or high;
    Women, creeping plants, and princes, twine round that which groweth

'Well,' inquired Karataka, 'what wilt thou say, being come to him?'

'First,' replied Damanaka, 'I will discover if his Majesty is well
affected to me.'

'How do you compass that?' asked the other.

'Oh, easily! by a look, a word,' answered Damanaka; 'and that
ascertained, I will proceed to speak what will put him at my disposal.'

'I can't see how you can venture to speak,' objected the other,
'without an opportunity--

    'If Vrihaspati, the Grave,
      Spoke a sentence out of season,
    Even Vrihaspati would have
      Strong rebuke for such unreason.'

'Pray don't imagine I shall speak unseasonably,' interrupted Damanaka;
'if that is all you fear, I will start at once.'

'Go, then,' said Karataka; 'and may you be as lucky as you hope.'

"Thereupon Damanaka set out for the lair of King Tawny-hide; putting on,
as he approached it, the look of one greatly disconcerted. The Rajah
observed him coming, and gave permission that he should draw near; of
which Damanaka availing himself, made reverential prostration of the
eight members and sat down upon his haunches.

'You have come at last, then, Sir Jackal!' growled his Majesty.

'Great Monarch!' humbly replied Damanaka, 'my service is not worthy of
laying at your imperial feet, but a servant should attend when he can
perform a service, and therefore I am come--

    'When Kings' ears itch, they use a straw to scratch 'em;
    When Kings' foes plot, they get wise men to match 'em.'

'H'm!' growled the Lion.

'Your Majesty suspects my intellect, I fear,' continued the
Jackal,'after so long an absence from your Majesty's feet; but, if I may
say so, it is still sound.'

'H'm!' growled the Lion again.

'A king, may it please your Majesty, should know how to estimate his
servants, whatever their position--

    'Pearls are dull in leaden settings, but the setter is to blame;
    Glass will glitter like the ruby, dulled with dust--are they the same?

    'And a fool may tread on jewels, setting in his crown mere glass;
    Yet, at selling, gems are gems, and fardels but for fardels pass.'

'Servants, gracious liege! are good or bad as they are entertained. Is
it not written?--

    'Horse and weapon, lute and volume, man and woman, gift of speech,
    Have their uselessness or uses in the One who owneth each.'

'And if I have been traduced to your Majesty as a dull fellow, that hath
not made me so--

    'Not disparagement nor slander kills the spirit of the brave;
    Fling a torch down, upward ever burns the brilliant flame it gave.'

'Accept then, Sire, from the humblest of your slaves his very humble

    'Wisdom from the mouth of children be it overpast of none;
    What man scorns to walk by lamplight in the absence of the sun?'

'Good Damanaka,' said King Tawny-hide, somewhat appeased, 'how is it
that thou, so wise a son of our first minister, hast been absent all
this while from our Court? But now speak thy mind fearlessly: what
wouldst thou?'

'Will your Majesty deign to answer one question?' said Damanaka.
'Wherefore came He back from the river without drinking?'

'Hush!' whispered the King, 'thou hast hit right upon my trouble. I knew
no one unto whom I might confide it; but thou seemest a faithful fellow,
and I will tell thee. Listen, then,' continued his Majesty in an
agitated whisper, 'there is some awful beast that was never seen before
in this wood here; and we shall have to leave it, look you. Did you hear
by chance the inconceivable great roar he gave? What a strong beast it
must be to have such a voice!'

'May it please your Majesty, I did hear the noise,' said the Jackal,
'and there is doubtless cause for terrible apprehension therein; but
take comfort, my Liege, he is no minister who bids thee prepare for
either war or resignation. All will go well, and your Majesty will learn
by this difficulty which be your best servants,'

'Good Jackal,' said Tawny-hide, 'I am horribly frightened about it.'

'I can see that,' thought Damanaka; but he only said, 'Fear nothing, my
liege, while thy servant survives,'

'What shall I do?' asked the King.

'It is well to encourage those who can avert disaster. If your Majesty
condescended now to bestow some favor on Karataka and the other----'

'It shall be done,' said the Rajah; and, summoning the other Jackals, he
gave them and Damanaka a magnificent gift of flesh, and they left the
presence, undertaking to meet the threatened danger.

'But, brother,' began Karataka,'haven't we eaten the King's dinner
without knowing what the danger is which we are to meet, and whether we
can obviate it?'

'Hold thy peace,' said Damanaka, laughing; 'I know very well what the
danger is! It was a bull, aha! that bellowed--a bull, my brother--whose
beef you and I could pick, much more the King our master.'

'And why not tell him so?' asked Karataka.

'What! and quiet his Majesty's fears! And where would our splendid
dinner have been then? No, no, my friend--

    'Set not your lord at ease; for, doing that,
    Might starve you as it starved "Curd-ear" the Cat.'

'Who was Curd-ear, the Cat?' inquired Karataka. Damanaka related:--


"Far away in the North, on a mountain named 'Thousand-Crags,' there
lived a lion called 'Mighty-heart'; and he was much annoyed by a certain
mouse, who made a custom of nibbling his mane while he lay asleep in his
den. The Lion would wake in a great rage at finding the ends of his
magnificent mane made ragged, but the little mouse ran into his hole,
and he could never catch it. After much consideration he went down to a
village, and got a Cat named Curd-ear to come to his cave with much
persuasion. He kept the Cat royally on all kinds of dainties, and slept
comfortably without having his mane nibbled, as the mouse would now
never venture out. Whenever the Lion heard the mouse scratching about,
that was always a signal for regaling the Cat in a most distinguished
style. But one day, the wretched mouse being nearly starved, he took
courage to creep timidly from his hole, and was directly pounced upon by
Curd-ear and killed. After that the Lion heard no more of the mouse, and
quite left off his regular entertainments of the Cat. No!" concluded
Damanaka, "we will keep our mouse alive for his Majesty."

So conversing, the Jackals went away to find Lusty-life the Bull, and
upon discovering him, Karataka squatted down with great dignity at the
foot of a tree, while Damanaka approached to accost him.

'Bull,' said Damanaka, 'I am the warder of this forest under the King
Tawny-hide, and Karataka the Jackal there is his General. The General
bids thee come before him, or else instantly depart from the wood. It
were better for thee to obey, for his anger is terrible,'

'Thereupon Lusty-life, knowing nothing of the country customs, advanced
at once to Karataka, made the respectful prostration of the eight
members, and said timidly, 'My Lord General! what dost thou bid me do?--

    'Strength serves Reason. Saith the Mahout, when he beats the brazen
    "Ho! ye elephants, to this work must your mightinesses come."'

'Bull,' answered Karataka, 'thou canst remain in the wood no longer
unless thou goest directly to lay thyself at our Royal master's imperial

'My Lord,' replied the Bull, 'give me a guarantee of safety, and I will

'Bull,' said Karataka, 'thou art foolish; fear nothing--

    "When the King of Chedi cursed him,
      Krishna scorned to make reply;
    Lions roar the thunder quiet,
      Jackals'-yells they let go by."

Our Lord the King will not vouchsafe his anger to thee; knowest thou

    'Mighty natures war with mighty: when the raging tempests blow,
    O'er the green rice harmless pass they, but they lay the palm-trees

'So the Jackals, keeping Lusty-life in the rear, went towards the palace
of King Tawny-hide; where the Rajah received them with much
graciousness, and bade them sit down.

'Have you seen him?' asked the King.

'We have seen him, your Majesty,' answered Damanaka; 'it is quite as
your Majesty expected--the creature has enormous strength, and wishes
to see your Majesty. Will you be seated, Sire, and prepare yourself--it
will never do to appear alarmed at a noise.'

'Oh, if it was only a noise,' began the Rajah.

'Ah, but the cause, Sire! that was what had to be found out; like the
secret of Swing-ear the Spirit.'

'And who might Swing-ear be?' asked the King.


"A goblin, your Majesty," responded Damanaka, "it seemed so, at least,
to the good people of Brahmapoora. A thief had stolen a bell from the
city, and was making off with that plunder, and more, into the
Sri-parvata hills, when he was killed by a tiger. The bell lay in the
jungle till some monkeys picked it up, and amused themselves by
constantly ringing it. The townspeople found the bones of the man, and
heard the noise of the bell all about the hills; so they gave out that
there was a terrible devil there, whose ears rang like bells as he swung
them about, and whose delight was to devour men. Every one, accordingly,
was leaving the town, when a peasant woman named Karála, who liked
belief the better for a little proof, came to the Rajah.

'Highness!' she observed, 'for a consideration I could settle this

'You could!' exclaimed the Rajah.

'I think so!' repeated the woman.

'Give her a consideration forthwith,' said the Rajah.

"Karála, who had her own ideas upon the matter, took the present and set
out. Being come to the hills, she made a circle, and did homage to
Gunputtee,[13] without whom nothing prospers. Then, taking some fruit
she had brought, such as monkeys love extremely, she scattered it up and
down in the wood, and withdrew to watch. Very soon the monkeys finding
the fruit, put down the bell, to do justice to it, and the woman picking
it up, bore it back to the town, where she became an object of uncommon
veneration. We, indeed," concluded Damanaka, "bring you a Bull instead
of a bell--your Majesty shall now see him!"

"Thereupon Lusty-life was introduced, and, the interview passing off
well, he remained many days in the forest on excellent terms with the

'One day another Lion, named 'Stiff-ears,' the brother of King
Tawny-hide, came to visit him. The King received him with all imaginable
respect, bade him be seated, and rose from his throne to go and kill
some beasts for his refreshment.

'May it please your Majesty,' interposed the Bull, 'a deer was slain
to-day--where is its flesh?'

'Damanaka and his brother know best,' said the King.

'Let us ascertain if there be any,' suggested the Bull.

'It is useless,' said the King, laughing--'they leave none,'

'What!' exclaimed the Bull, 'have those Jackals eaten a whole deer?'

'Eaten it, spoiled it, and given it away,' answered Tawny-hide; 'they
always do so,'

'And this without your Majesty's sanction?' asked the Bull.

'Oh! certainly not with my sanction,' said the King.

'Then,' exclaimed the Bull, 'it is too bad: and in Ministers too!--

    'Narrow-necked to let out little, big of belly to keep much,
    As a flagon is--the Vizir of a Sultan should be such.'

'No wealth will stand such waste, your Majesty--

    'He who thinks a minute little, like a fool misuses more;
    He who counts a cowry nothing, being wealthy, will be poor.'

'A king's treasury, my liege, is the king's life.'

'Good brother,' observed Stiff-ears, who had heard what the Bull said,
'these Jackals are your Ministers of Home and Foreign Affairs--they
should not have direction of the Treasury. They are old servants, too,
and you know the saying--

    'Brahmans, soldiers, these and kinsmen--of the three set none in
    For the Brahman, tho' you rack him, yields no treasure small or large;
    And the soldier, being trusted, writes his quittance with his sword,
    And the kinsman cheats his kindred by the charter of the word;
    But a servant old in service, worse than any one is thought,
    Who, by long-tried license fearless, knows his master's anger nought.'

Ministers, my royal brother, are often like obstinate swellings that
want squeezing, and yours must be kept in order.'

'They are not particularly obedient, I confess,' said Tawny-hide.

'It is very wrong,' replied Stiff-ears; 'and if you will be advised by
me--as we have banqueted enough to-day--you will appoint this
grain-eating and sagacious Bull your Superintendent of Stores.'

'It shall be so,' exclaimed the King.

'Lusty-life was accordingly appointed to serve out the provisions, and
for many days Tawny-hide showed him favor beyond all others in the

"Now the Jackals soon found that food was no longer so freely provided
by this arrangement as before, and they met to consult about it.

'It is all our own fault,' said Damanaka, 'and people must suffer for
their own mistakes. You know who said--

    "I that could not leave alone
    'Streak-o'-Gold,' must therefore moan.
    She that took the House-wife's place
    Lost the nose from off her face.
    Take this lesson to thy heart--
    Fools for folly suffer smart."

'No!' said Karataka, 'how was it?' Damanaka related:--


"In the city of 'Golden-Streets' there reigned a valorous King, named
Vira-vikrama, whose officer of justice was one day taking away to
punishment a certain Barber, when he was stopped by a strolling
mendicant, who held him by the skirts, and cried out, 'Punish not this
man--punish them that do wrong of their own knowledge.' Being asked his
meaning, he recited the foregoing verses, and, being still further
questioned, he told this story--

"I am Prince Kandarpa-ketu, son of the King of Ceylon. Walking one day
in my summer-garden, I heard a merchant-captain narrating how that out
at sea, deep under water, on the fourteenth day of the moon, he had seen
what was like nothing but the famous tree of Paradise, and sitting under
it a lady of most lustrous beauty, bedecked with strings of pearls like
Lukshmi herself, reclining, with a lute in her hands, on what appeared
to be a golden couch crusted all over with precious stones. At once I
engaged the captain and his ship, and steered to the spot of which he
told me. On reaching it I beheld the beautiful apparition as he had
described it, and, transported with the exquisite beauty of the lady, I
leapt after her into the sea. In a moment I found myself in a city of
gold; and in an apartment of a golden palace, surrounded by young and
beautiful girls, I found the Sea-queen. She perceived my approach, and
sent an attendant with a courteous message to meet me. In reply to my
questions, I learned that the lady was the Princess Ratnamanjari,
daughter of the King of All the Spirits--and how she had made a vow that
whoever should first come to see her golden city, with his own eyes,
should marry her. So I married her by the form called Gundharva, or
'Union by mutual consent,' and spent many and happy days in her
delightful society. One day she took me aside, and said, 'Dear Prince!
all these delights, and I myself, are thine to enjoy; only that picture
yonder, of the Fairy Streak-o'-Gold, that thou must never touch!' For a
long time I observed this injunction; at last, impelled by resistless
curiosity, I laid my hand on the picture of 'Streak-o'-Gold,' In one
instant her little foot, lovely as the lotus-blossom, advanced from out
of the painting, and launched me through sea and air into my own
country. Since that I have been a miserable wanderer; and passing
through this city, I chanced to lodge at a Cowkeeper's hut, and saw the
truth of this Barber's affair. The herdsman returned at night with his
cattle, and found his wife talking with the wife of the Barber, who is
no better than a bawd. Enraged at this, the man beat his wife, tied her
to the milking-post, and fell asleep. In the dead of the night the
Barber's wife came back, and said to the woman, 'He, whom thou knowest,
is burnt with the cruel fire of thine absence, and lies nigh to death;
go therefore and console him, and I will tie myself to the post until
thou returnest.' This was done, and the Cowkeeper presently awoke. 'Ah!
thou light thing!' he said jeeringly, 'why dost not thou keep promise,
and meet thy gallant?' The Barber's wife could make no reply; whereat
becoming incensed, the man cried out, 'What! dost thou scorn to speak to
me? I will cut thy nose off!' And so he did, and then lay down to sleep
again. Very soon the Cowkeeper's wife came back and asked if 'all was
well.' 'Look at my face!' said the Barber's wife, 'and you will see if
all is well.' The woman could do nothing but take her place again,
while the Barber's wife, picking up the severed nose, and at a sad loss
how to account for it, went to her house. In the morning, before it was
light, the Barber called to her to bring his box of razors, and she
bringing one only, he flung it away in a passion. 'Oh, the knave!' she
cried out, directly, aloud, 'Neighbors, neighbors! he has cut my nose
off!' and so she took him before the officers. The Cowkeeper, meantime,
wondering at his wife's patience, made some inquiry about her nose;
whereto she replied, 'Cruel wretch! thou canst not harm a virtuous
woman. If Yama and the seven guardians of the world know me chaste, then
be my face unmaimed!' The herdsman hastened to fetch a light, and
finding her features unaltered, he flung himself at her feet, and begged
forgiveness. For,

    'Never tires the fire of burning, never wearies death of slaying,
    Nor the sea of drinking rivers, nor the bright-eyed of betraying,'

Thereupon the King's officer dismissed Kandarpa-ketu, and did justice by
setting the Barber free, shaving the head of the Barber's wife, and
punishing the Cowkeeper's.

'That is my story,' concluded Damanaka, 'and thence I said that we had
no reason to complain.'

'Well, but we must do something,' said Karataka.

'Yes! How shall we break the friendship of the King with the Bull?'
asked the other.

'It is very strong,' observed Karataka.

'But we can do it,' replied the other.

    'What force would fail to win, fraud can attain:--
    The Crow despatched the Serpent by a chain.'

'How did that occur?' asked Karataka.

Damanaka related:--


"A pair of Crows had their abode in a certain tree, the hollow of which
was occupied by a black snake, who had often devoured their young. The
Hen-bird, finding herself breeding again, thus addressed her mate:
'Husband, we must leave this tree; we shall never rear young ones while
this black snake lives here! You know the saw--

    'From false friends that breed thee strife,
    From a house with serpents rife,
    Saucy slaves and brawling wife--
    Get thee out, to save thy life.'

'My dear,' replied the Crow, 'you need not fear; I have put up with him
till I am tired. Now I will put an end to him.'

'How can you fight with a great black snake like that?' said the

'Doubt nothing,' answered the other--

    'He that hath sense hath strength; the fool is weak:--
    The Lion proud died by the Hare so meek,'

'How came that about?' asked the Hen-Crow.

'Thus,' replied her mate:--


"On the Mandara mountain there lived a Lion named Fierce-of-heart, and
he was perpetually making massacre of all the wild animals. The thing
grew so bad that the beasts held a public meeting, and drew up a
respectful remonstrance to the Lion in these words:--

"Wherefore should your Majesty thus make carnage of us all? If it may
please you, we ourselves will daily furnish a beast for your Majesty's
meal." The Lion responded, "If that arrangement is more agreeable to
you, be it so."; and from that time a beast was allotted to him daily,
and daily devoured. One day it came to the turn of an old hare to supply
the royal table, who reflected to himself as he walked along, "I can but
die, and I will go to my death leisurely."

"Now Fierce-of-heart, the lion, was pinched with hunger, and seeing the
Hare so approaching he roared out, "How darest thou thus delay in

'Sire,' replied the Hare, 'I am not to blame. I was detained on the road
by another lion, who exacted an oath from me to return when I should
have informed your Majesty.'

'Go,' exclaimed King Fierce-of-heart in a rage; 'show me, instantly,
where this insolent villain of a lion lives.'

"The Hare led the way accordingly till he came to a deep well, whereat
he stopped, and said, 'Let my lord the King come hither and behold him.'
The Lion approached, and beheld his own reflection in the water of the
well, upon which, in his passion, he directly flung himself, and so

"I have heard your story," said the Hen-Crow, "but what plan do you

"My dear," replied her mate, "the Rajah's son comes here every day to
bathe in the stream. When he takes off his gold anklet, and lays it on
the stone, do thou bring it in thy beak to the hollow of the tree, and
drop it in there." Shortly after the Prince came, as was his wont, and
taking off his dress and ornaments, the Hen-Crow did as had been
determined; and while the servants of the Prince were searching in the
hollow, there they found the Black Snake, which they at once dispatched.

'Said I not well,' continued Damanaka, 'that stratagem excels force?'

'It was well said,' replied Karataka; 'go! and may thy path be

'With that Damanaka repaired to the King, and having done homage, thus
addressed him:--

"Your Majesty, there is a dreadful thing on my mind, and I am come to
disclose it."

'Speak!' said the King, with much graciousness.

'Your Majesty,' said the Jackal, 'this Bull has been detected of
treason. To my face he has spoken contemptuously of the three
prerogatives of the throne,[14] unto which he aspires.'

"At these words King Tawny-hide stood aghast.

'Your Majesty,' continued Damanaka, 'has placed him above us all in the
Court. Sire! he must be displaced!--

    'Teeth grown loose, and wicked-hearted ministers, and poison-trees,
    Pluck them by the roots together; 'Tis the thing that giveth ease,'

'Good Jackal,' said the King, after some silence; 'this is indeed
dreadful; but my regard for the Bull is very great, and it is said--

    'Long-tried friends are friends to cleave to--never leave thou these
            i' the lurch:--
    What man shuns the fire as sinful for that once it burned a church?'

'That is written of discarding old servants, may it please your
Majesty,' observed Damanaka; 'and this Bull is quite a stranger,'

'Wondrous strange!' replied the Lion; 'when I have advanced and
protected him that he should plot against me!'

'Your Majesty,' said the Jackal, 'knows what has been written--

    'Raise an evil soul to honor, and his evil bents remain;
    Bind a cur's tail ne'er so straightly, yet it curleth up again.'

    'How, in sooth, should Trust and Honor change the evil nature's root?
    Though one watered them with nectar, poison-trees bear deadly fruit.'

I have now at least warned your Majesty: if evil comes, the fault is not

'It will not do to condemn the Bull without inquiry,' mused the King;
then he said aloud, 'shall we admonish him, think you, Damanaka?'

'No, no, Sire!' exclaimed the Jackal, eagerly; 'that would spoil all our

    'Safe within the husk of silence guard the seed of counsel so
    That it break not--being broken, then the seedling will not grow,'

What is to be done must be done with despatch. After censuring his
treason, would your Majesty still trust the traitor?--

    'Whoso unto ancient fondness takes again a faithless friend,
    Like she-mules that die conceiving, in his folly finds his end,'

'But wherein can the Bull injure me?' asked Tawny-hide; 'tell me that!'

'Sire,' replied the Jackal, how can I tell it?--

    'Ask who his friends are, ere you scorn your foe;
    The Wagtail foiled the sea, that did not so,'

'How could that be?' demanded King Tawny-hide.

'The Jackal related:--


"On the shore of the Southern Sea there dwelt a pair of Wagtails. The
Hen-bird was about to lay, and thus addressed her mate:--

'Husband, we must look about for a fit place to lay my eggs.'

'My dear,' replied the Cock-bird, 'will not this spot do?'

'This spot!' exclaimed the Hen; 'why, the tide overflows it.'

'Good dame,' said the Cock, 'am I so pitiful a fellow that the Sea will
venture to wash the eggs out of my nest?'

'You are my very good Lord,' replied the Hen, with a laugh; 'but still
there is a great difference between you and the Sea.'

"Afterwards, however, at the desire of her mate, she consented to lay
her eggs on the sea-beach. Now the Ocean had overheard all this, and,
bent upon displaying its strength, it rose and washed away the nest and
eggs. Overwhelmed with grief, the Hen-bird flew to her mate, and

'Husband, the terrible disaster has occurred! My eggs arc gone!'

'Be of good heart! my Life,' answered he.

"And therewith he called a meeting of fowls, and went with them into the
presence of Gurud, the Lord of the birds. When the Master of the Mighty
Wing had listened to their complaint, he conveyed it to the knowledge of
the God Narayen, who keeps, and kills, and makes alive the world. The
almighty mandate given, Gurud bound it upon his forehead, and bore it to
the Ocean, which, so soon as it heard the will of Narayen, at once gave
back the eggs.

'How, indeed,' concluded Damanaka, 'should I judge of the Bull's power,
not knowing who supports him?'

'By what signs, then,' asked the King, 'may I conclude him a traitor?'

'If he comes into the presence with his horns lowered for goring, as one
that expects the fight. That,' replied the Jackal, 'will convince your

'Thereupon Damanaka the Jackal withdrew, and betook himself towards the
Bull, upon perceiving whom he approached slowly, with all the air of one
greatly distressed.

'Good master Jackal,' said Lusty-life, 'what goes amiss with thee?'

'All goes amiss with such as serve wicked masters,' replied the Jackal.

'But what ails thee?' asked the Bull.

'Alas!' answered the Jackal, 'what can I say in such a strait!--

    'Even as one who grasps a serpent, drowning in the bitter sea,
    Death to hold and death to loosen--such is life's perplexity.'

'And therewithal the Jackal heaved a deep sigh, and squatted down.

'But, good friend,' said the Bull, 'at least tell me what is in thy

'Bull,' began Damanaka, 'it is a King's secret, and should not be
spoken; but thou didst come here upon my safeguard, and as I hope for
the life to come, I will tell thee of what touches thee so nearly.
Listen!--the heart of the King is turned against thee! he hath sworn
secretly that he will kill thee and feast upon thy flesh.'

'Then Lusty-life the Bull was sorely troubled, and he fell a-musing

    "Woman's love rewards the worthless--kings of knaves exalters be;
    Wealth attends the selfish niggard, and the cloud rains on the sea."

'Can this be the Jackal's doing?' he reflected. Going with honest folk
will not make one honest--

    'Many a knave wins fair opinions standing in fair company,
    As the sooty soorma pleases, lighted by a brilliant eye.'

Then he said aloud, 'wherein can I have angered the King? Do kings hate
without cause? I can tell nothing, except that there is no happiness
which abides long--

    'Where the azure lotus[15] blossoms, there the alligators hide;
    In the sandal-tree are serpents. Pain and pleasure live allied.'

I thought his Majesty noble as the sandal-tree; but that, indeed, is not
wholly noble--

    'Rich the sandal--yet no part is but a vile thing habits there;
    Snake and wasp haunt root and blossom; on the boughs sit ape and bear.'

'Bull,' said Damanaka, 'I knew the King of old for one whose tongue was
honey and whose heart was poison.'

'But how very hard!' said the Bull, 'that he, being a lion, should
attack me, an innocent eater of grass!'

'It is very hard!' said the Jackal.

'Who can have set him against me?' asked the Bull.

'Being so, it cannot be bettered,' replied the Jackal, 'whoever did it--

    'As a bracelet of crystal, once broke, is not mended;
    So the favor of princes, once altered, is ended.'

'Yes,' said the Bull, 'and a king incensed is terrible--

    'Wrath of kings, and rage of lightning--both be very full of dread;
    But one falls on one man only--one strikes many victims dead,'

Still, I can but die--and I will die fighting! When death is certain,
and no hope left but in battle, that is the time for war,'

'It is so,' said the Jackal.

'Having weighed all this, Lusty-life inquired of the Jackal by what
signs he might conclude the King's hostile intentions.

'If he glowers upon thee,' answered Damanaka, 'and awaits thee with ears
pricked, tail stiffened, paw upraised, and muzzle agape, then thou
mayest get thee to thy weapons like a Bull of spirit, for

    'All men scorn the soulless coward who his manhood doth forget:--
    On a lifeless heap of ashes fearlessly the foot is set,'

'Then Damanaka the Jackal returned to the Lion, and said to him:--

'If it please your Majesty, the traitor is now coming; let your Majesty
be on your guard, with ears pricked and paw upraised.'

'The Bull meanwhile approached, and observing the hostile attitude of
King Tawny-hide, he also lowered his horns, and prepared for the combat.
A terrible battle ensued, and at the last King Tawny-hide slew
Lusty-life the Bull. Now when the Bull was dead, the Lion was very
sorrowful, and as he sat on his throne lamenting, he said--

'I repent me of this deed!--

    'As when an Elephant's life-blood is spilt,
    Another hath the spoils--mine is the guilt.'

'Sire,' replied the Jackal, 'a King over-merciful is like a Brahman
that eats all things equally. May all your Majesty's enemies perish as
did this Bull.'

"Thus endeth," said the Sage Vishnu-Sarman, "the 'Parting of Friends.'"

"We are gratified exceedingly thereby," replied the Sons of the King.

"Let me then close it thus," said their Preceptor--

      'So be friendship never parted,
      But among the evil-hearted;
      Time's sure step drag, soon or later,
      To his judgment, such a Traitor;
      Lady Lukshmi, of her grace,
      Grant good fortune to this place;
    And you, Royal boys! and boys of times to be
    In this fair fable-garden wander free.'

[12] The white umbrella borne above the heads of Indian rajahs.

[13] The deity of prudence.

[14] Regal authority derives its rights from three sources: Power,
Prescription or continuance, and Wisdom.

[15] The lotus resembles the water-lily, but is more varied in form and


When the next day of instruction was come, the King's sons spake to the
Sage, Vishnu-Sarman.

"Master," said they, "we are Princes, and the sons of Princes, and we
earnestly desire to hear thee discourse upon War."

"I am to speak on what shall please you," replied Vishnu-Sarman. "Hear
now, therefore, of 'War,' whose opening is thus:--

    'Between the peoples of Peacock and Swan[16]
    War raged; and evenly the contest ran,
    Until the Swans to trust the Crows began.'

'And how was all that?' asked the sons of the Rajah. Vishnu-Sarman
proceeded to relate--


"In the Isle of Camphor there is a lake called 'Lotus-water,' and
therein a Swan-Royal, named 'Silver-sides,' had his residence. The birds
of the marsh and the mere had elected him King, in full council of all
the fowls--for a people with no ruler is like a ship that is without a
helmsman. One day King Silver-sides, with his courtiers, was quietly
reposing on a couch of well-spread lotus-blossoms, when a Crane, named
'Long-bill,' who had just arrived from foreign parts, entered the
presence with an obeisance, and sat down.

'What news from abroad, Long-bill?' asked his Majesty.

'Great news, may it please you,' answered the Crane, 'and therefore have
I hastened hither. Will your Majesty hear me?'

'Speak!' said King Silver-sides.

'You must know, my Liege,' began the Crane, 'that over all the birds of
the Vindhya mountains in Jambudwipa a Peacock is King, and his name is
'Jewel-plume,' I was looking for food about a certain burnt jungle
there, when some of his retainers discovered me, and asked my name and
country. 'I am a vassal of King Silver-sides, Lord of the Island of
Camphor,' I replied, 'and I am travelling in foreign lands for my
pleasure.' Upon that the birds asked me which country, my own or theirs,
and which King, appeared to me superior. 'How can you ask?' I replied;
'the island of Camphor is, as it were, Heaven itself, and its King a
heaven-born ruler. To dwellers in a barren land like yours how can I
describe them? Come for yourselves, and see the country where I live.'
Thereupon, your Majesty, the birds were exceedingly offended, as one
might expect--

    'Simple milk, when serpents drink it, straightway into venom turns;
    And a fool who heareth counsel all the wisdom of it spurns.'

For, indeed, no reflecting person wastes time in admonishing

    'The birds that took the apes to teaching,
    Lost eggs and nests in pay for preaching.'

'How did that befall?' asked the King.

The Crane related:--


"In a nullah that leads down to the Nerbudda river there stood a large
silk-cotton tree, where a colony of weaver-birds had built their hanging
nests, and lived snugly in them, whatever the weather. It was in the
rainy season, when the heavens are overlaid with clouds like
indigo-sheets, and a tremendous storm of water was falling. The birds
looked out from their nests, and saw some monkeys, shivering and starved
with the cold, standing under a tree. 'Twit! twit! you Monkeys,' they
began to chirrup. 'Listen to us!--

    'With beaks we built these nests, of fibres scattered;
    You that have hands and feet, build, or be spattered.'

On hearing that the Monkeys were by no means pleased. 'Ho! ho!' said
they, 'the Birds in their snug nests are jeering at us; wait till the
rain is over,' Accordingly, so soon as the weather mended, the Monkeys
climbed into the tree, and broke all the birds' eggs and demolished
every nest. I ought to have known better,' concluded the Crane, 'than to
have wasted my suggestions on King Jewel-plume's creatures.'

'But what did they say?' asked Silver-sides.

'They said, Rajah,' answered the Crane, 'who made that Swan of thine a

'And what was your reply?' asked Silver-sides.

'I demanded,' replied the Crane, 'who made a King of that Peacock of
theirs. Thereupon they were ready to kill me for rage; but I displayed
my very best valor. Is it not written--

    'A modest manner fits a maid,
      And Patience is a man's adorning;
    But brides may kiss, nor do amiss,
      And men may draw, at scathe and scorning.'

'Yet a man should measure his own strength first,' said the Rajah,
smiling; 'how did you fare against King Jewel-plume's fellows?'

'Very scurvily,' replied Long-bill. "Thou rascal Crane," they cried,
"dost thou feed on his soil, and revile our Sovereign? That is past
bearing!" And thereat they all pecked at me. Then they began again:
"Thou thick-skulled Crane! that King of thine is a goose--a web-footed
lord of littleness--and thou art but a frog in a well to bid us serve
him--- him forsooth!--

    'Serving narrow-minded masters dwarfs high natures to their size:--
    Seen before a convex mirror, elephants do show as mice.'

Bad kings are only strong enough to spoil good vassals--as a fiction
once was mightier than a herd of elephants. You know it, don't you?--

    'Mighty may prove things insignificant:--
    A tale of moonshine turned an elephant.'

'No! how was that?' I asked.

The birds related--


"Once on a time, very little rain had fallen in the due season; and the
Elephants being oppressed with thirst, thus accosted their
leader:--'Master, how are we to live? The small creatures find something
to wash in, but we cannot, and we are half dead in consequence; whither
shall we go then, and what shall we do?' Upon that the King of the
Elephants led them away a little space; and showed them a beautiful pool
of crystal water, where they took their ease. Now it chanced that a
company of Hares resided on the banks of the pool, and the going and
coming of the elephants trampled many of them to death, till one of
their number named Hard-head grumbled out, 'This troop will be coming
here to water every day, and every one of our family will be crushed.'
'Do not disquiet yourself,' said an old buck named Good-speed, 'I will
contrive to avert it,' and so saying, he set off, bethinking himself on
his way how he should approach and accost a herd of elephants; for,

    'Elephants destroy by touching, snakes with point of tooth beguile;
    Kings by favor kill, and traitors murder with a fatal smile.'

'I will get on the top of a hill,' he thought, 'and address the
Elephants thence.'

"This being done, and the Lord of the herd perceiving him, it was asked
of the Hare, 'Who art thou? and whence comest thou?'

'I am an ambassador from his Godship the Moon,' replied Good-speed.

'State your business,' said the Elephant-king.

'Sire,' began the Hare, 'an ambassador speaks the truth safely by
charter of his name. Thus saith the Moon, then: "These hares were the
guardians of my pool, and thine elephants in coming thither have scared
them away. This is not well. Am I not Sasanka, whose banner bears a
hare, and are not these hares my votaries?"'

'Please your worship,' said the Elephant-king with much trepidation, 'we
knew nothing of this; we will go there no more.'

'It were well,' said the sham ambassador, 'that you first made your
apologies to the Divinity, who is quaking with rage in his pool, and
then went about your business.'

'We will do so,' replied the Elephant with meekness; and being led by
night to the pool, in the ripples of which the image of the Moon was
quivering, the herd made their prostrations; the Hare explaining to the
Moon that their fault was done in ignorance, and thereupon they got
their dismissal.'

'Nay,' I said, 'my Sovereign is no fiction, but a great King and a
noble, and one that might govern the Three Worlds, much more a kingdom,'

'Thou shalt talk thy treason in the presence,' they cried; and therewith
I was dragged before King Jewel-plume.

'Who is this?' asked the Rajah.

'He is a servant of King Silver-sides, of the Island of Camphor,' they
replied; 'and he slights your Majesty, on your Majesty's own land.'

'Sirrah Crane!' said the Prime Minister, a Vulture, 'who is chief
officer in that court?'

'A Brahmany Goose,' I answered, 'named "Know-all"; and he does know
every possible science.'

'Sire,' broke in a Parrot, 'this Camphor-isle and the rest are poor
places, and belong to Jambudwipa. Your Majesty has but to plant the
royal foot upon them.'

'Oh! of course,' said the King.

'Nay,' said I, 'if talking makes your Majesty King of Camphor-island, my
Liege may be lord of Jambudwipa by a better title.'

'And that?' said the Parrot.

'Is fighting!' I responded.

'Good!' said the King, with a smile; 'bid your people prepare for war.'

'Not so,' I replied; 'but send your own ambassador.'

'Who will bear the message?' asked the Rajah. 'He should be loyal,
dexterous, and bold.'

'And virtuous,' said the Vulture, 'and therefore a Brahman:--

    'Better Virtue marked a herald than that noble blood should deck;
    Shiva reigns forever Shiva while the sea-wave stains his neck.'

'Then let the Parrot be appointed,' said the Rajah.

'I am your Majesty's humble servant,' replied the Parrot; 'but this
Crane is a bad character, and with the bad I never like to travel. The
ten-headed Ravana carried off the wife of Ramchundra! It does not do,

    'With evil people neither stay nor go;
    The Heron died for being with the Crow.'

'How did that befall?' asked the King. The Parrot related:--


'The high-road to Oogein is a very unshaded and sultry one; but there
stands upon it one large Peepul-tree, and therein a Crow and a Heron had
their residence together. It was in the hot weather that a tired
traveller passed that way, and, for the sake of the shade, he laid his
bow and arrows down, and dropped asleep under the tree. Before long the
shadow of the tree shifted, and left his face exposed to the glare;
which the Heron perceiving, like the kindly bird he was, perched on the
Peepul-tree, and spread his wings out so as to cast a shadow on the
traveller's face. There the poor fellow, weary with his travel,
continued to sleep soundly, and snored away comfortably with open mouth.
The sight of his enjoyment was too much for the malevolent Crow, who,
perching over him, dropped an unwelcome morsel into the sleeper's mouth,
and straightway flew off. The traveller, starting from his slumber,
looked about, and, seeing no bird but the Heron, he fitted an arrow and
shot him dead. No!' concluded the Parrot, 'I like the society of honest

'But why these words, my brother?' I said; 'his Majesty's herald is to
me even as his Majesty.'

'Very fine!' replied the Parrot; 'but--

    'Kindly courtesies that issue from a smiling villain's mouth
    Serve to startle, like a flower blossoming in time of drouth.'

Needs must that thou art a bad man; for by thy talk war will have
arisen, which a little conciliation had averted:--

    'Conciliation!--weapon of the wise!
    Wheedled therewith, by woman's quick device,
    The Wheelwright let his ears betray his eyes.'

'How came that about?' asked the King. The Parrot related:--


"There was a Wheelwright in Shri-nuggur, whose name was 'Heavy-head,' He
had good reason to suspect the infidelity of his wife, but he had no
absolute proof of it. One day he gave out that he should go to a
neighboring town, and he started accordingly; but he went a very little
way, and then returning, hid himself in his wife's chamber. She being
quite satisfied that he was really gone away, invited her gallant to
pass the evening with her, and began to spend it with him in
unrestrained freedom. Presently, by chance, she detected the presence of
her husband, and her manner instantly changed.

'Life of my soul! what ails you?' said her lover; 'you are quite dull

'I am dull,' she replied, 'because the lord of my life is gone. Without
my husband the town is a wilderness. Who knows what may befall him, and
whether he will have a nice supper?'

'Trouble thyself no more about the quarrelsome dullard,' said her

'Dullard, quotha!' exclaimed the wife. 'What matter what he is, since he
is my all? Knowest thou not--

    'Of the wife the lord is jewel, though no gems upon her beam;
    Lacking him, she lacks adornment, howsoe'er her jewels gleam?'

Thou, and the like of thee, may serve a whim, as we chew a betel-leaf
and trifle with a flower; but my husband is my master, and can do with
me as he will. My life is wrapped up in him--and when he dies, alas! I
will certainly die too. Is it not plainly said--

    'Hairs three-crore, and half-a-crore hairs, on a man so many grow--
    And so many years to Swerga shall the true wife surely go?'

And better still is promised; as herein--

    'When the faithful wife,[17] embracing tenderly her husband dead,
    Mounts the blazing pile beside him, as it were the bridal-bed;
    Though his sins were twenty thousand, twenty thousand times o'er-told,
    She shall bring his soul to splendor, for her love so large and bold.'

All this the Wheelwright heard. 'What a lucky fellow I am,' he thought,
'to have a wife so virtuous,' and rushing from his place of concealment,
he exclaimed in ecstasy to his wife's gallant, 'Sir I saw you ever truer
wife than mine?'

'When the story was concluded,' said Long-bill, 'the King, with a
gracious gift of food, sent me off before the Parrot; but he is coming
after me, and it is now for your Majesty to determine as it shall please

'My Liege,' observed the Brahmany-goose with a sneer, 'the Crane has
done the King's business in foreign parts to the best of his power,
which is that of a fool.'

"Let the past pass," replied the King, "and take thought for the

"Be it in secret, then, your Majesty," said the Brahmany-goose--

    'Counsel unto six ears spoken, unto all is notified:--
    When a King holds consultation, let it be with one beside,'

Thereupon all withdrew, but the Rajah and the Minister.

'What think you?' said Silver-sides.

'That the Crane has been employed to bring this about,' replied the

'What shall we do?' asked the King.

'Despatch two spies--the first to inform and send back the other, and
make us know the enemy's strength or weakness. They must be such as can
travel by land and water, so the Crane will serve for one, and we will
keep his family in pledge at the King's gate. The other must be a very
reserved character; as it is said--

    'Sick men are for skilful leeches--prodigals for prisoning--
    Fools for teachers--and the man who keeps a secret, for a King,'

'I know such a one,' said his Majesty, after a pause.

'It is half the victory,' responded the Minister.

At this juncture a chamberlain entered with a profound obeisance, and
announced the arrival from Jambudwipa of the Parrot.

'Let him be shown to a reception-room,' commanded the Goose, in reply to
a look from the King. 'He shall presently have audience.'

'War is pronounced, then,' said the King, as the attendant withdrew.

'It is offered, my Liege; but must not be rashly accepted,' replied the

    'With gift, craft, promise, cause thy foe to yield;
    When these have failed thee, challenge him a-field.'

To gain time for expedients is the first point. Expedients are good for
great and little matters equally, like

    'The subtle wash of waves, that smoothly pass,
    But lay the tree as lowly as the grass.'

Let his Excellency the Parrot, then, be cajoled and detained here, while
we place our fort in condition to be useful. Is it not said--

    'Ten true bowmen on a rampart fifty's onset may sustain;
    Fortalices keep a country more than armies in the plain?'

And your Majesty,' continued the Goose, 'will recall the points of a
good fortress--

    'Build it strong, and build it spacious, with an entry and retreat;
    Store it well with wood and water, fill its garners full with wheat.'

'Whom, then, shall we entrust with this work?' asked King Silver-sides.

'The Paddy-bird[18] is a good bird, and a skilful,' replied his

'Let him be summoned!' said the King. And upon the entrance of the
Paddy-bird, the superintendence of the fortress was committed to him,
and accepted with a low prostration.

'As to the fort, Sire!' remarked the Paddy-bird, 'it exists already in
yonder large pool; the thing is to store the island in the middle of it
with provisions--

    'Gems will no man's life sustain;
    Best of gold is golden grain.'

'Good!' said King Silver-sides; 'let it be looked to.' Thereupon, as the
Paddy-bird was retiring, the Usher entered again, and making
prostration, said: 'May it please your Majesty, the King of all the
Crows, Night-cloud by name, has just arrived from Singhala-dwipa, and
desires to lay his homage at your Majesty's feet.'

'He is a wise bird, and a far-travelled,' said the King; 'I think we
must give him audience.'

Nevertheless, Sire,' interrupted the Goose, 'we must not forget that he
is a land-bird, and therefore not to be received as a water-fowl. Your
royal memory doubtless retains the story of

    'The Jackal's fate, who being colored blue,
    Leaving his party, left his own life too.'

'No! How was that?' asked King Silver-sides. The Goose related--


"A Jackal once on a time, as he was prowling about the suburbs of a
town, slipped into an indigo-tank; and not being able to get out he laid
himself down so as to be taken for dead. The dyer presently coming and
finding what seemed a dead Jackal, carried him into the jungle and then
flung him away. Left to himself, the Jackal found his natural color
changed to a splendid blue. 'Really,' he reflected, 'I am now of a most
magnificent tint; why should I not make it conduce to my elevation?'
With this view, he assembled the other Jackals, and thus harangued

'Good people, the Goddess of the Wood, with her own divine hand, and
with every magical herb of the forest, has anointed me King. Behold the
complexion of royalty!--and henceforward transact nothing without my
imperial permission."

"The Jackals, overcome by so distinguished a color, could do nothing but
prostrate themselves and promise obedience. His reign, thus begun,
extended in time to the lions and tigers; and with these high-born
attendants he allowed himself to despise the Jackals, keeping his own
kindred at a distance, as though ashamed of them. The Jackals were
indignant, but an old beast of their number thus consoled them:--

"Leave the impudent fellow to me. I will contrive his ruin. These tigers
and the rest think him a King, because he is colored blue; we must show
them his true colors. Do this, now!--in the evening-time come close
about him, and set up a great yell together--he is sure to join in, as
he used to do--

    'Hard it is to conquer nature: if a dog were made a King,
    Mid the coronation trumpets, he would gnaw his sandal-string.'

And when he yells the Tigers will know him for a Jackal and fall upon

'The thing befell exactly so, and the Jackal,' concluded the Minister,
'met the fate of one who leaves his proper party.'

'Still,' said the King, 'the Crow has come a long way, and we might see
him, I think.'

'Admit the Parrot first, Sire,' said the Goose; 'the fort has been put
in order and the spy despatched.'

"Thereupon a Court was called, and the Parrot introduced, followed by
Night-cloud, the Crow. A seat was offered to the parrot, who took it,
and, with his beak in the air, thus delivered his mission:--

'King Silver-sides!--My master, the King Jewel-plume, Lord of Lords,
bids thee, if life and lands be dear to thee, to come and make homage at
his august feet; and failing this to get thee gone from Camphor-island.'

'S'death!' exclaimed the Rajah, 'is there none that will silence this

'Give the sign, your Majesty,' said the Crow, starting up, 'and I will
despatch this audacious bird.'

'Sir,' said the Goose, 'be calm! and Sire, deign to listen--

    ''Tis no Council where no Sage is--'tis no Sage that fears not Law;
    'Tis no Law which Truth confirms not--'tis no Truth which Fear can

An ambassador must speak unthreatened--

    'Though base be the Herald, nor hinder nor let,
      For the mouth of a king is he;
    The sword may be whet, and the battle set,
      But the word of his message is free.'

Thereat the Rajah and Night-cloud resumed their composure; and the
Parrot took his departure, escorted by the Minister, and presented with
complimentary gifts of gold and jewels. On reaching the palace of
Jewel-plume, the King demanded his tidings, and inquired of the country
he had visited.

'War must be prepared, may it please you,' said the Parrot: 'the
country is a country of Paradise.'

'Prepare for war, then!' said the King.

'We must not enter on it in the face of destiny,' interposed the
Vulture-Minister, whose title was 'Far-sight.'

'Let the Astrologer then discover a favorable conjuncture for the
expedition, and let my forces be reviewed meantime,' said the King.

'We must not march without great circumspection,' observed Far-sight.

'Minister!' exclaimed the King, 'you chafe me. Say, however, with what
force we should set out.'

'It should be well selected, rather than unwieldy,' replied the

    'Better few and chosen fighters than of shaven crowns a host,
    For in headlong flight confounded, with the base the brave are lost.'

And its commanders must be judiciously appointed; for it is said--

    'Ever absent, harsh, unjustly portioning the captured prey--
    These, and cold or laggard leaders make a host to melt away.'

'Ah!' interrupted the Rajah, 'what need of so much talk? We will go,
and, if Váchaspati please, we will conquer.'

Shortly afterwards the Spy returned to Camphor-island. 'King
Silver-sides,' he cried, 'the Rajah, Jewel-plume, is on his way hither,
and has reached the Ghauts. Let the fort be manned, for that Vulture is
a great minister; and I have learned, too, that there is one among us
who is in his pay.'

'King!' said the Goose, 'that must be the Crow.'

'But whence, then, did he show such willingness to punish the Parrot?'
objected his Majesty. 'Besides, war was declared long after the Crow
came to Court.'

'I misdoubt him,' said the Minister, 'because he is a stranger.'

'But strangers surely may be well-disposed,' replied the King. 'How say
the books?--

    'Kind is kin, howe'er a stranger--kin unkind is stranger shown;
    Sores hurt, though the body breeds them--drugs relieve, though

Have you never heard of King Sudraka and the unknown Servant, who gave
his son's life for the King?

'Never,' answered the Goose.


"I will tell you the tale," said the King, "as I heard it from
'Lilyflower,' daughter of the Flamingo 'White-flag,' of whom I was once
very fond:--A soldier presented himself one morning at King Sudraka's
gate, and bade the porter procure an audience for 'Vira-vara, a
Rajpoot,'[19] who sought employment. Being admitted to the presence, he
thus addressed the King:--

'If your Highness needs an attendant, behold one!'

'What pay do you ask?' inquired the King.

'Five hundred pieces of gold a day,' said Vira-vara.

'And your accoutrements?' asked the King.

'Are these two arms, and this sabre, which serve for a third,' said
Vira-vara, rolling up his sleeve.

'I cannot entertain you,' rejoined his Majesty; and thereupon the
Rajpoot made salaam, and withdrew. Then said the Ministers, 'If it
please your Majesty, the stipend is excessive, but give him pay for four
days, and see wherein he may deserve it.' Accordingly, the Rajpoot was
recalled, and received wages for four days, with the complimentary
betel.--Ah! the rare betel! Truly say the wise of it--

    'Betel-nut is bitter, hot, sweet, spicy, binding, alkaline--
    A demulcent--an astringent--foe to evils intestine;
    Giving to the breath a fragrance--to the lips a crimson red;
    A detergent, and a kindler of Love's flame that lieth dead.
    Praise the gods for the good Betel!--these be thirteen virtues given,
    Hard to meet in one thing blended, even in their happy heaven.'

'Now the King narrowly watched the spending of Vira-vara's pay, and
discovered that he bestowed half in the service of the Gods and the
support of Brahmans, a fourth part in relieving the poor, and reserved a
fourth for his sustenance and recreation. This daily division made, he
would take his stand with his sabre at the gate of the palace; retiring
only upon receiving the royal permission.

'It was on the fourteenth night of the dark half of the month that King
Sudraka heard below a sound of passionate sobbing. 'Ho! there,' he
cried, 'who waits at the gate?'

'I,' replied Vira-vara, 'may it please you.'

'Go and learn what means this weeping,' said the King.

'I go, your Majesty,' answered the Rajpoot, and therewith departed.

'No sooner was he gone than the King repented him of sending one man
alone into a night so dark that a bodkin might pierce a hole in it, and
girding on his scimitar, he followed his guard beyond the city gates.
When Vira-vara had gone thus far he encountered a beautiful and
splendidly dressed lady who was weeping bitterly; and accosting her, he
requested to know her name, and why she thus lamented.

'I am the Fortune of the King Sudraka,' answered she; 'a long while I
have lived happily in the shadow of his arm; but on the third day he
will die, and I must depart, and therefore lament I.'

'Can nothing serve, Divine Lady, to prolong thy stay?' asked the

'It might be,' replied the Spirit, 'if thou shouldst cut off the head of
thy first-born Shaktidhar, that hath on his body the thirty-two
auspicious marks of greatness. Were his head offered to the all-helpful
Durga, the Rajah should live a hundred years, and I might tarry beside

'So speaking, she disappeared, and Vira-vara retraced his steps to his
own house and awoke his wife and son. They arose, and listened with
attention until Vira-vara had repeated all the words of the vision. When
he had finished, Shaktidhar exclaimed, 'I am thrice happy to be able to
save the state of the King. Kill me, my father, and linger not; to give
my life in such a cause is good indeed,' 'Yes,' said the Mother, 'it is
good, and worthy of our blood; how else should we deserve the King's
pay?' Being thus agreed, they repaired together at once to the temple of
the Goddess Durga, and having paid their devotions and entreated the
favor of the deity on behalf of the King, Vira-vara struck off his son's
head, and laid it as an offering upon the shrine. That done, Vira-vara
said, 'My service to the King is accomplished, and life without my boy
is but a burden,' and therewith he plunged his sword in his own breast
and fell dead. Overpowered with grief for her husband and child, the
mother also withdrew the twice-blooded weapon, and slew herself with it
on the bodies of Vira-vara and Shaktidhar.

'All this was heard and seen by King Sudraka, and he stood aghast at the
sad sight. 'Woe is me!' he exclaimed--

    'Kings may come, and Kings may go;
    What was I, to bring these low?
    Souls so noble, slain for me,
    Were not, and will never be!'

What reck I of my realm, having lost these?' and thereat he drew his
scimitar to take his own life also. At that moment there appeared to him
the Goddess, who is Mistress of all men's fortunes. 'Son,' said she,
staying his lifted hand, 'forbear thy rash purpose, and bethink thee of
thy kingdom.'

"The Rajah fell prostrate before her, and cried--'O Goddess! I am done
with life and wealth and kingdom! If thou hast compassion on me, let my
death restore these faithful ones to life; anywise I follow the path
they have marked,' 'Son,' replied the Goddess, 'thine affection is
pleasing to me: be it as thou wilt! The Rajpoot and his house shall be
rendered alive to thee.' Then the King departed, and presently saw
Vira-vara return, and take up again his station as before at the

'Ho! there, Vira-vara!' cried the King, 'what meant the weeping?'

'Let your Majesty rest well!' answered the Rajpoot, 'it was a woman who
wept, and disappeared on my approach.' This answer completed the Rajah's
astonishment and delight; for we know--

    'He is brave whose tongue is silent of the trophies of his sword;
    He is great whose quiet bearing marks his greatness well assured.'

So when the day was come, he called a full council, and, declaring
therein all the events of the night, he invested the faithful guard with
the sovereignty of the Carnatic.

"Thus, then," concluded King Silver-sides, "in entertaining strangers a
man may add to his friends."

"It may well be," replied the Goose; "but a Minister should advise what
is expedient, and not what is pleasing in sentiment:--

    'When the Priest, the Leech, the Vizir of a King his flatterers be,
    Very soon the King will part with health, and wealth, and piety.'

'Let it pass, then,' said Silver-sides, 'and turn we to the matter in
hand. King Jewel-plume is even now pitched under the Ghauts. What think

'That we shall vanquish him,' replied the Goose; 'for he disregards, as
I learn, the counsel of that great statesman, the Vulture Far-sight; and
the wise have said--

    'Merciless, or money-loving, deaf to counsel, false of faith,
    Thoughtless, spiritless, or careless, changing course with every
    Or the man who scorns his rival--if a prince should choose a foe,
    Ripe for meeting and defeating, certes he would choose him so.

He is marching without due preparation; let us send the Paddy-bird at
the head of a force and attack him on his march."

Accordingly the Paddy-bird, setting out with a force of water-fowl, fell
upon the host of the Peacock-king, and did immense execution.
Disheartened thereat, King Jewel-plume summoned Far-sight, his Minister,
and acknowledged to him his precipitation.

'Wherefore do you abandon us, my father?' he said. 'Correct for us what
has been done amiss.

'My Liege,' replied the Vulture, 'it has been well observed--

    'By the valorous and unskilful great achievements are not wrought;
    Courage, led by careful Prudence, unto highest ends is brought.'

You have set Strength in the seat of Counsel, your Majesty, and he hath
clumsily spoiled your plans. How indeed could it fall otherwise? for--

    'Grief kills gladness, winter summer, midnight-gloom the light of day,
    Kindnesses ingratitude, and pleasant friends drive pain away;
    Each ends each, but none of other surer conquerors can be
    Than Impolicy of Fortune--of Misfortune Policy.'

I have said to myself, 'My Prince's understanding is affected--how else
would he obscure the moonlight of policy with the night-vapors of talk;'
in such a mood I cannot help him--

    'Wisdom answers all who ask her, but a fool she cannot aid;
    Blind men in the faithful mirror see not their reflection made.'

And therefore I have been absent.'

'My father!' said the King, joining his palms in respect, 'mine is all
the fault! Pardon it, and instruct me how to withdraw my army without
further loss.'

Then the Vulture's anger melted, and he reflected--

    'Where the Gods are, or thy Guru--in the face of Pain and Age,
    Cattle, Brahmans, Kings, and Children--reverently curb thy rage.'

And with a benignant smile, he answered the King thus, 'Be of good
heart, my Liege; thou shalt not only bring the host back safely, but
thou shalt first destroy the castle of King Silver-sides.'

'How can that be, with my diminished forces?' asked the Rajah.

'It will come to pass!' answered the Vulture. 'Break up to-day for the
blockade of the fort.'

Now, when this was reported by the spies to King Silver-sides, he was
greatly alarmed. 'Good Goose!' said he, 'what is to be done? Here is the
King of the Peacocks at hand, to blockade us--by his Minister's advice,

'Sire,' replied the Goose, 'separate the efficient and the inefficient
in your force; and stimulate the loyalty of the first, with a royal
bounty of gold and dresses, as each may seem to merit. Now is the time
for it--

    'Oh, my Prince! on eight occasions prodigality is none--
    In the solemn sacrificing, at the wedding of a son,
    When the glittering treasure given makes the proud invader bleed,
    Or its lustre bringeth comfort to the people in their need,
    Or when kinsmen are to succor, or a worthy work to end,
    Or to do a mistress honor, or to welcome back a friend.'

'But is this expenditure needed?' said the King.

'It is needed, my Liege,' said the Goose, 'and it befits a Monarch;

    'Truth, munificence, and valor, are the virtues of a King;
    Royalty, devoid of either, sinks to a rejected thing.'

'Let it be incurred then!' replied the King.

At this moment Night-cloud, the Crow, made his appearance. 'Deign me one
regard, Sire,' said he, 'the insolent enemy is at our gates; let your
Majesty give the word, and I will go forth and show my valor and
devotion to your Crown.'

'It were better to keep our cover,' said the Goose. 'Wherefore else
builded we this fortalice? Is it not said?--

    'Hold thy vantage!--alligators on the land make none afraid;
    And the lion's but a jackal that hath left his forest-shade.'

But go, your Majesty, and encourage our warriors." Thereupon they
repaired to the Gateway of the Fort, and all day the battle raged there.

It was the morning after, when King Jewel-plume spake thus to his
Minister the Vulture--'Good sir, shall thy promise be kept to us?'

'It shall be kept, your Majesty,' replied the Vulture; 'storm the fort!'

'We will storm it!' said the Peacock-king. The sun was not well-risen
accordingly when the attack was made, and there arose hot fighting at
all the four gates. It was then that the traitorous Crows, headed by
their Monarch, Night-cloud, put fire to every dwelling in the citadel,
and raised a shout of 'The Fort is taken! it is taken!' At this terrible
sound the soldiers of the Swan-king forsook their posts, and plunged
into the pool.

Not thus King Silver-sides:--retiring coolly before the foe, with his
General the Paddy-bird, he was cut off and encircled by the troopers of
King Jewel-plume, under the command of his Marshal, the Cock.

'My General,' said the King, 'thou shalt not perish for me. Fly! I can
go no farther. Fly! I bid thee, and take counsel with the Goose that
Crest-jewel, my son, be named King!'

'Good my Lord,' replied the Paddy-bird, 'speak not thus! Let your
Majesty reign victorious while the sun and moon endure. I am governor of
your Majesty's fortress, and if the enemy enter it he shall but do so
over my body; let me die for thee, my Master!--

    'Gentle, generous, and discerning; such a Prince the Gods do give!'

'That shalt thou not,' replied the Rajah--

    'Skilful, honest, and true-hearted; where doth such a Vassal live?'

'Nay! my royal Lord, escape!' cried the Paddy-bird; a king's life is the
life of his people--

    'The people are the lotus-leaves, their monarch is the sun--
    When he doth sink beneath the waves they vanish every one.

    When he doth rise they rise again with bud and blossom rife,
    To bask awhile in his warm smile, who is their lord and life.'

'Think no more of me.' At this instant the Cock rushing forward,
inflicted a wound with his sharp spurs on the person of the King; but
the Paddy-bird sprang in front of him, and receiving on his body the
blows designed for the Rajah, forced him away into the pool. Then
turning upon the Cock, he despatched him with a shower of blows from his
long bill; and finally succumbed, fighting in the midst of his enemies.
Thus the King of the Peacocks captured the fortress; and marched home
with all the treasure in it, amid songs of victory.

Then spake the Princes: "In that army of the Swans there was no soldier
like the Paddy-bird, who gave his own life for the King's."

"There be nowhere many such," replied Vishnu-Sarman; "for

    'All the cows bring forth are cattle--only now and then is born
    An authentic lord of pastures, with his shoulder-scratching horn.'[20]

"It is well spoken," said the Princes.

"But for him that dares to die so," added the Sage, "may an eternal
heaven be reserved, and may the lustrous Angels of Paradise, the
Apsaras, conduct him thither! Is it not so declared, indeed?--

    'When the soldier in the battle lays his life down for his king,
    Unto Swerga's perfect glory such a deed his soul shall bring.'

"It is so declared," said the Rajah's sons.

"And now, my Princes," concluded Vishnu-Sarman, "you have listened to

"We have listened, and are gratified," replied the sons of the King.

"Let me end then," said their Preceptor, "with this--

      'If the clouds of Battle lower
      When ye come into your power,
      Durga grant the foes that dare you
      Bring no elephants to scare you;
      Nor the thunderous rush of horses,
      Nor the footmen's steel-fringed forces:
    But overblown by Policy's strong breath,
    Hide they in caverns from the avenging death.'

[16] The peacock is wild in most Indian jungles. The swan is a species
of flamingo of a white color. The voice and gait of a beautiful woman
are likened by the Hindoo poets to those of the swan.

[17] By such a death as that alluded to, she earns the title of Sati,
the "excellent."

[18] The common Indian crane; a graceful white bird, seen everywhere in
the interior of Hindoostan.

[19] A man of military caste.

[20] Large branching horns which reach backward and rub upon his


When the time came for resuming instruction, the King's sons said to
Vishnu-Sarman, "Master, we have heard of War, we would now learn
somewhat of the treaties which follow war." "It is well asked," replied
the Sage; "listen therefore to 'Peace,' which hath this commencement--

    'When those great Kings their weary war did cease,
    The Vulture and the Goose concluded Peace.'

'How came that?' asked the Princes.

Vishnu-Sarman related:--


"So soon as King Jewel-plume had retreated, the first care of King
Silver-sides was the discovery of the treason that had cost him the

'Goose,' he said to his Minister, 'who put the fire to our citadel,
think you? Was it an enemy or an inmate?'

'Sire,' replied the Goose, 'Night-cloud and his followers are nowhere to
be seen--it must needs be his work.'

'It must needs be,' sighed the King, after a pause; 'but what

'If it please your Majesty, no,' replied the Minister; 'it is written--

    "'Tis the fool who, meeting trouble, straightway destiny reviles;
    Knowing not his own misdoing brought his own mischance the whiles."

You have forgotten the saying--

    'Who listens not, when true friends counsel well,
    Must fall, as once the foolish Tortoise fell.'

'I never heard it,' said the King. 'How was that?' The Goose related--


"There is a pool in South Behar called the 'Pool of the Blue Lotus,' and
two Geese had for a long time lived there. They had a friend in the pool
who was a Tortoise, and he was known as 'Shelly-neck,' It chanced one
evening that the Tortoise overheard some fishermen talking by the water.
'We will stop here to-night,' they said, 'and in the morning we will
catch the fish, the tortoises, and such like.' Extremely alarmed at
this, the Tortoise repaired to his friends the Geese, and reported the

'What ever am I to do, Gossips?' he asked.

'The first thing is to be assured of the danger,' said the Geese.

'I am assured,' exclaimed the Tortoise; 'the first thing is to avoid it:
don't you know?--

    'Time-not-come' and 'Quick-at-peril,' these two fishes 'scaped the net;
    'What-will-be-will-be,' he perished, by the fishermen beset.'

'No,' said the Geese,' how was it?' Shelly-neck related:--


"It was just such a pool as this, and on the arrival at it of just such
men as these fishermen, that three fishes, who had heard their designs,
held consultation as to what should be done.

'I shall go to another water,' said "Time-not-come," and away he went.

'Why should we leave unless obliged?' asked "Quick-at-peril." 'When the
thing befalls I shall do the best I can--

    'Who deals with bad dilemmas well, is wise.
    The merchant's wife, with womanly device,
    Kissed--and denied the kiss--under his eyes.'

'How was that?' asked the other fish. Quick-at-peril related:--


"There was a trader in Vikrama-poora, who had a very beautiful wife, and
her name was Jewel-bright. The lady was as unfaithful as she was fair,
and had chosen for her last lover one of the household servants. Ah!

    'Sex, that tires of being true,
    Base and new is brave to you!
    Like the jungle-cows ye range,
    Changing food for sake of change.'

Now it befell one day that as Jewel-bright was bestowing a kiss on the
mouth of the servant, she was surprised by her husband; and seeing him
she ran up hastily and said, 'My lord, here is an impudent varlet! he
eats the camphor which I procured for you; I was actually smelling it on
his lips as you entered.' The servant catching her meaning, affected
offence. 'How can a man stay in a house where the mistress is always
smelling one's lips for a little camphor?' he said; and thereat he was
for going off, and was only constrained by the good man to stay, after
much entreaty. 'Therefore,' said Quick-at-peril, 'I mean to abide here,
and make the best I can of what befalls, as she did.'

'Yes, yes,' said What-will-be-will-be, 'we all know

    'That which will not be will not be, and what is to be will be:--
    Why not drink this easy physic, antidote of misery?'

'When the morning came, the net was thrown, and both the fishes
inclosed. Quick-at-peril, on being drawn up, feigned himself dead; and
upon the fisherman's laying him aside, he leaped off again into the
water. As to What-will-be-will-be, he was seized and forthwith
dispatched.--And that,' concluded the Tortoise, 'is why I wish to devise
some plan of escape.'

'It might be compassed if you could go elsewhere,' said the Geese, 'but
how can you get across the ground?'

'Can't you take me through the air?' asked the Tortoise.

'Impossible!' said the Geese.

'Not at all!' replied the Tortoise; 'you shall hold a stick across in
your bills, and I will hang on to it by my mouth--and thus you can
readily convey me,'

'It is feasible,' observed the Geese, 'but remember,

    'Wise men their plans revolve, lest ill befall;
    The Herons gained a friend, and so, lost all.'

'How came that about?' asked the Tortoise. The Geese related:--


"Among the mountains of the north there is one named Eagle-cliff, and
near it, upon a fig-tree, a flock of Herons had their residence. At the
foot of the tree, in a hollow, there lived a serpent; and he was
constantly devouring the nestlings of the Herons. Loud were the
complaints of the parent birds, until an old Heron thus advised
them:--'You should bring some fishes from the pool, and lay them one by
one in a line from the hole of yonder Mongoose to the hollow where the
Serpent lives. The Mongoose will find him when it comes after the fish,
and if it finds him it will kill him.' The advice seemed good, and was
acted upon; but in killing the Snake the Mongoose overheard the cry of
the young Herons; and climbing the tree daily, he devoured all that the
Snake had left. Therefore,' concluded the Geese, 'do we bid you look
well into your plan: if you should open your mouth, for instance, as we
carry you, you will drop and be killed.'

'Am I a fool,' cried the Tortoise, 'to open my mouth? Not I! Come now,
convey me!'

'Thereupon the Geese took up the stick; the Tortoise held fast with his
mouth, and away they flew. The country people, observing this strange
sight, ran after.

'Ho! ho!' cried one, 'look at the flying Tortoise!'

'When he falls we'll cook and eat him here,' said another.

'No; let us take him home for dinner!' cried a third.

'We can light a fire by the pool, and eat him,' said the first.

'The Tortoise heard these unkind remarks in a towering passion. 'Eat
me!--eat ashes!' he exclaimed, opening his mouth--and down he fell
directly, and was caught by the countrymen.--Said I not well,' concluded
the Goose-Minister, 'that to scorn counsel is to seek destruction?'

'You have well said,' replied King Silver-sides, disconsolately.

'Yes, your Majesty,' interposed the Crane, who was just returned, 'if
the Fort had been cleared, Night-cloud could not have fired it, as he
did, by the Vulture's instigation.'

'We see it all,' sighed the King, 'but too late!'

    'Whoso trusts, for service rendered, or fair words, an enemy,
    Wakes from folly like one falling in his slumber from a tree.'

'I witnessed Night-cloud's reception,' continued the Crane. 'King
Jewel-plume showed him great favor, and was for anointing him Rajah of

'Hear you that, my Liege?' asked the Goose.

'Go on; I hear!' said Silver-sides.

'To that the Vulture demurred,' continued the Crane:--'"favor to low
persons," he said, "was like writing on the sea-sand. To set the
base-born in the seat of the great was long ago declared impolitic--

    'Give mean men power, and give thy throat to the knife;
    The Mouse, made Tiger, sought his master's life.'

'How was that?' asked King Jewel-plume. The Vulture related--


"In the forest of the Sage Gautama there dwelt a Recluse named
Mighty-at-Prayer. Once, as he sat at his frugal meal, a young mouse
dropped beside him from the beak of a crow, and he took it up and fed it
tenderly with rice grains. Some time after the Saint observed a cat
pursuing his dependent to devour it, whereupon he changed the mouse into
a stout cat. The cat was a great deal harassed by dogs, upon which the
Saint again transformed it into a dog. The dog was always in danger of
the tigers, and his protector at last gave him the form of a
tiger--considering him all this while, and treating him withal, like
nothing but a mouse. The country-folk passing by would say, 'That a
tiger! not he; it is a mouse the Saint has transformed.' And the mouse
being vexed at this, reflected, 'So long as the Master lives, this
shameful story of my origin will survive!' With this thought he was
about to take the Saint's life, when he, who knew his purpose, turned
the ungrateful beast by a word to his original shape. Besides, your
Majesty," continued the Vulture, "it may not be so easy to take in

    'Many fine fishes did the old Crane kill,
    But the Crab matched him, maugre all his bill.'

'How came that to pass?' asked Jewel-plume.

'The Vulture related:--


"There was an old Crane at a mere called Lily-water, in Malwa, who stood
one day in the shallows with a most dejected look and drooping bill. A
Crab observed him and called out, 'Friend Crane! have you given up
eating, that you stand there all day?' 'Nay, sir!' replied the old
Crane; 'I love my dish of fish, but I have heard the fishermen say that
they mean to capture every one that swims in this water; and as that
destroys my hope of subsistence, I am resigning myself to death.' All
this the fishes overheard. 'In this matter certainly,' they said, 'his
interest is ours; we ought to consult him; for it is written--

    'Fellow be with kindly foemen, rather than with friends unkind;
    Friend and foeman are distinguished not by title but by mind.'

Thereupon they repaired to him: 'Good Crane,' they said, 'what course is
there for safety?'

'Course of safety there is,' replied the Crane, 'to go elsewhere; and I
will carry you one by one to another pool, if you please.'

'Do so,' said the trembling fishes.

"The Crane accordingly took one after another, and having eaten them
returned with the report that he had safely deposited each. Last of all,
the Crab requested to be taken; and the Crane, coveting his tender
flesh, took him up with great apparent respect. On arriving at the spot,
which was covered with fish-bones, the Crab perceived the fate reserved
for him; and turning round he fastened upon the Crane's throat and tore
it so that he perished.'

'Well, but,' said King Jewel-plume, 'we can make Night-cloud viceroy
here, to send over to Vindhya all the productions of Camphor-isle!'

'Then the Vulture Far-sight laughed a low laugh and said--

    'Who, ere he makes a gain has spent it,
    Like the pot-breaker will repent it.'

'What was that?' asked the King. Far-sight related:--


"There was a Brahman in the city of Vána, whose name was Deva Sarman. At
the equinoctial feast of the Dussera, he obtained for his duxina-gift a
dish of flour, which he took into a potter's shed; and there lay down in
the shade among the pots, staff in hand. As he thus reclined he began to
meditate, 'I can sell this meal for ten cowrie-shells, and with them I
can purchase some of these pots and sell them at an advance. With all
that money I shall invest in betel-nuts and body-cloths and make a new
profit by their sale; and so go on trafficking till I get a lakh of
rupees--what's to prevent me? Then I shall marry four wives--and one at
least will be beautiful and young, and she shall be my favorite. Of
course the others will be jealous; but if they quarrel, and talk, and
trouble me I will belabor them like this--and this'--and therewith he
flourished his staff to such a purpose as to smash his meal-dish and
break several of the potter's jars. The potter, rushing out, took him by
the throat, and turned him off; and so ended his speculations. I smiled,
my Liege,' concluded the Vulture, 'at your precipitancy, thinking of
that story.'

'Tell me, then, my Father, what should be done,' said the King.

'Tell me first, your Majesty, what took the fortress: strength or

'It was a device of yours,' said the King.

'It is well,' replied the Minister, 'and my counsel now is to return
before the rainy season, while we can return; and to make peace. We have
won renown and taken the enemy's stronghold; let it suffice. I speak as
a faithful adviser; and it is written--

    'Whoso setting duty highest, speaks at need unwelcome things,
    Disregarding fear and favor, such a one may succor kings.'

Oh, my Liege! war is uncertain! Nay, it may ruin victor and

    'Sunda the strong, and giant Upasunda,
    Contending, like the lightning and the thunder,
    Slew each the other. Learn, the while you wonder.'

'Tell me that,' said the King of the Peacocks.

'The Vulture related--


"Long ago, my Liege, there were two Daityas named Sunda and Upasunda,
the which with penance and fasting worshipped that God who wears the
moon for his forehead-jewel; desiring to win his favor, and thereby the
lordship of the Three Worlds. At last the God, propitiated by their
devotion, spake thus unto them:--

'I grant a boon unto ye--choose what it shall be.'

'And they, who would have asked dominion, were suddenly minded of
Saraswati--who reigns over the hearts and thoughts of men--to seek a
forbidden thing.

'If,' said they, 'we have found favor, let the Divinity give us his own
cherished Parvati, the Queen of Heaven!'

'Terribly incensed was the God, but his word had passed, and the boon
must be granted; and Parvati the Divine was delivered up to them. Then
those two world-breakers, sick at heart, sin-blinded, and afire with the
glorious beauty of the Queen of Life--began to dispute, saying one to
another: 'Mine is she! mine is she!' At the last they called for an
umpire, and the God himself appeared before them as a venerable Brahman.

'Master,' said they, 'tell us whose she is, for we both won her by our

'Then spake that Brahman:--

    'Brahmans for their lore have honor; Kshattriyas for their bravery;
    Vaisyas for their hard-earned treasure; Sudras for humility,'

Ye are Kshattriyas--and it is yours to fight; settle, then, this
question by the sword.'

'Thereupon they agreed that he spoke wisely, and drew and battled; and
being of equal force, they fell at the same moment by an exchange of
blows. Good my Lord,' concluded the Minister, 'peace is a better thing
than war,'

'But why not say so before?' asked Jewel-plume.

'I said it at the first,' replied the Minister. 'I knew King
Silver-sides for a just King, upon whom it was ill to wage battle. How
say the Scriptures?--

    'Seven foemen of all foemen, very hard to vanquish be:
    The Truth-teller, the Just-dweller, and the man from passion free,
    Subtle, self-sustained, and counting frequent well-won victories,
    And the man of many kinsmen--keep the peace with such as these.'

The Swan-king has friends and kinsmen, my Liege:--

    'And the man with many kinsmen answers with them all attacks;
    As the bambu, in the bambus safely sheltered, scorns the axe.'

'My counsel then is that peace be concluded with him,' said the Vulture.

'All this King Silver-sides and his Minister the Goose heard attentively
from the Crane.

'Go again!' said the Goose to Long-bill, 'and bring us news of how the
Vulture's advice is received.'

'Minister!' began the King, upon the departure of the Crane, 'tell me as
to this peace, who are they with whom it should not be concluded?'

'They be twenty, namely----'

'Tarry not to name them,' said the King; 'and what be the qualities of a
good ally?'

'Such should be learned in Peace and War,' replied the Goose, 'in
marching and pitching, and seasonably placing an army in the field; for
it is said--

    'He who sets his battle wisely, conquers the unwary foe;
    As the Owl, awaiting night-time, slew the overweening Crow.'

Counsel, my Liege, is quintuple--Commencing, providing, dividing,
repelling, and completing,'

'Good!' said the King.

'Power is triple,' continued the Goose, 'being of Kings, of counsels,
and of constant effort.'

'It is so!' said the King.

'And expedients, my Liege,' continued the Goose, 'are quadruple, and
consist of conciliation, of gifts, of strife-stirring, and of force of
arms; for thus it is written--

    'Whoso hath the gift of giving wisely, equitably, well;
    Whoso, learning all men's secrets, unto none his own will tell;
    Whoso, ever cold and courtly, utters nothing that offends,
    Such a one may rule his fellows unto Earth's extremest ends.'

'Then King Jewel-plume would be a good ally,' observed the Swan-king.

'Doubtless!' said the Goose, 'but elated with victory, he will hardly
listen to the Vulture's counsel; we must make him do it.'

'How?' asked the King.

'We will cause our dependent, the King of Ceylon, Strong-bill the Stork,
to raise an insurrection in Jambudwipa.'

'It is well-conceived,' said the King. And forthwith a Crane, named
Pied-body, was dismissed with a secret message to that Rajah.

'In course of time the first Crane, who had been sent as a spy, came
back, and made his report. He related that the Vulture had advised his
Sovereign to summon Night-cloud, the Crow, and learn from him regarding
King Silver-sides' intentions. Night-cloud attended accordingly.

'Crow!' asked King Jewel-plume, 'what sort of a Monarch is the Rajah

'Truthful, may it please you,' replied the Crow; 'and therewithal noble
as Yudisthira himself.'

'And his Minister, the Goose?'

'Is a Minister unrivalled, my Liege,' said the Crow-king.

'But how then didst thou so easily deceive them?'

'Ah! your Majesty,' said the Crow, 'there was little credit in that. Is
it not said?--

    'Cheating them that truly trust you, 'tis a clumsy villainy!
    Any knave may slay the child who climbs and slumbers on his knee.'

Besides, the Minister detected me immediately. It was the King whose
innate goodness forbade him to suspect evil in another:--

    'Believe a knave, thyself scorning a lie,
    And rue it, like the Brahman, by and by.'

'What Brahman was that?' asked the King. Night-cloud replied:--


"A Brahman that lived in the forest of Gautama, your Majesty. He had
purveyed a goat to make pooja, and was returning home with it on life
shoulder when he was descried by three knaves. 'If we could but obtain
that goat,' said they, 'it would be a rare trick'; and they ran on, and
seated themselves at the foot of three different trees upon the
Brahman's road. Presently he came up with the first of them, who
addressed him thus: 'Master! why do you carry that dog on your
shoulder?' 'Dog!' said the Brahman, 'it is a goat for sacrifice!' With
that he went on a coss, and came to the second knave; who called
out--'What doest thou with that dog, Master?' The Brahman laid his goat
upon the ground, looked it all over, took it up again upon his back, and
walked on with his mind in a whirl; for--

    'The good think evil slowly, and they pay
    A price for faith--as witness "Crop-ear" may.'

'Who was Crop-ear?' asked the King of the Peacocks.


"A Camel, may it please you," replied Night-cloud, "who strayed away
from a kafila, and wandered into the forest. A Lion, named
'Fierce-fangs,' lived in that forest; and his three courtiers, a Tiger,
a Jackal, and a Crow, met the Camel, and conducted him to their King.
His account of himself was satisfactory, and the Lion took him into his
service under the name of Crop-ear. Now it happened that the rainy
season was very severe, and the Lion became indisposed, so that there
was much difficulty in obtaining food for the Court. The courtiers
resolved accordingly to prevail on the Lion to kill the Camel; 'for what
interest have we,' they said, 'in this browser of thistles?'

'What, indeed!' observed the Tiger; 'but will the Rajah kill him after
his promise of protection, think you?'

'Being famished he will,' said the Crow. 'Know you not?--

    'Hunger hears not, cares not, spares not; no boon of the starving beg;
    When the snake is pinched with craving, verily she eats her egg.'

Accordingly they repaired to the Lion.

'Hast brought me food, fellow?' growled the Rajah.

'None, may it please you,' said the Crow.

'Must we starve, then?' asked his Majesty.

'Not unless you reject the food before you, Sire,' rejoined the Crow.

'Before me! how mean you?'

'I mean,' replied the Crow (and he whispered it in the Lion's ear),
'Crop-ear, the Camel!'

'Now!' said the Lion, and he touched the ground, and afterwards both
ears, as he spoke, 'I have given him my pledge for his safety, and how
should I slay him?'

'Nay, Sire! I said not slay,' replied the Crow; 'it may be that he will
offer himself for food. To that your Majesty would not object?'

'I am parlous hungry,' muttered the Lion.

'Then the Crow went to find the Camel, and, bringing all together before
the King under some pretence or other, he thus addressed him:--

'Sire! our pains are come to nothing: we can get no food, and we behold
our Lord falling away,

    'Of the Tree of State the root
    Kings are--feed what brings the fruit.'

Take me, therefore, your Majesty, and break your fast upon me."

'Good Crow,' said the Lion, 'I had liefer die than do so.'

'Will your Majesty deign to make a repast upon me?' asked the Jackal.

'On no account!' replied the Lion.

'Condescend, my Lord,' said the Tiger, 'to appease your hunger with my
poor flesh.'

'Impossible!' responded the Lion.

'Thereupon Crop-ear, not to be behind in what seemed safe, made offer of
his own carcase, which was accepted before he had finished; the Tiger
instantly tearing his flank open, and all the rest at once devouring

'The Brahman,' continued Night-cloud, 'suspected nothing more than did
the Camel; and when the third knave had broken his jest upon him for
bearing a dog, he threw it down, washed himself clean of the
contamination, and went home; while the knaves secured and cooked his

'But, Night-cloud,' asked the Rajah, 'how couldst thou abide so long
among enemies, and conciliate them?'

'It is easy to play the courtier for a purpose,' said Night-cloud--

    'Courtesy may cover malice; on their heads the woodmen bring,
    Meaning all the while to burn them, logs and fagots--oh, my King!
    And the strong and subtle river, rippling at the cedar's foot,
    While it seems to lave and kiss it, undermines the hanging root.'

Indeed, it has been said--

    'A wise man for an object's sake
    His foe upon his back will take,
    As with the Frogs once did the Snake.'

'How was that?' asked the Peacock-King. The Crow related:--


"In a deserted garden there once lived a Serpent, 'Slow-coil' by name;
who had reached an age when he was no longer able to obtain his own
food. Lying listlessly by the edge of a pond, he was descried by a
certain Frog, and interrogated--

'Have you given up caring for food, Serpent?'

'Leave me, kindly Sir,' replied the subtle reptile; 'the griefs of a
miserable wretch like me cannot interest your lofty mind.'

'Let me at least hear them,' said the Frog, somewhat flattered.

'You must know, then, gracious Sir,' began the Serpent, 'that it is now
twenty years since here, in Brahmapoora, I bit the son of Kaundinya, a
holy Brahman; of which cruel bite he died. Seeing his boy dead,
Kaundinya abandoned himself to despair, and grovelled in his distress
upon the ground. Thereat came all his kinsmen, citizens of Brahmapoora,
and sat down with him, as the manner is--

    'He who shares his brother's portion, be he beggar, be he lord,
    Comes as truly, comes as duly, to the battle as the board;

    Stands before the King to succor, follows to the pile to sigh;
    He is friend and he is kinsman--less would make the name a lie.'

Then spoke a twice-passed Brahman,[21] Kapila by name, 'O Kaundinya!
thou dost forget thyself to lament thus. Hear what is written--

    'Weep not! Life the hired nurse is, holding us a little space;
    Death, the mother who doth take us back into our proper place.'

    'Gone, with all their gauds and glories: gone, like peasants, are the
    Whereunto the world is witness, whereof all her record rings.'

What, indeed, my friend, is this mortal frame, that we should set store
by it?--

    'For the body, daily wasting, is not seen to waste away,
    Until wasted, as in water set a jar of unbaked clay.'

    'And day after day man goeth near and nearer to his fate,
    As step after step the victim thither where its slayers wait.'

Friends and kinsmen--they must all be surrendered! Is it not said--

    'Like as a plank of drift-wood
      Tossed on the watery main,
    Another plank encountered,
      Meets--touches--parts again;
    So tossed, and drifting ever,
      On life's unresting sea,
    Men meet, and greet, and sever,
      Parting eternally.'

Thou knowest these things, let thy wisdom chide thy sorrow, saying--

    'Halt, traveller! rest i' the shade: then up and leave it!
    Stay, Soul! take fill of love; nor losing, grieve it!'

But in sooth a wise man would better avoid love; for--

    'Each beloved object born
    Sets within the heart a thorn,
    Bleeding, when they be uptorn.'

And it is well asked--

    'When thine own house, this rotting frame, doth wither,
    Thinking another's lasting--goest thou thither?'

What will be, will be; and who knows not--

    'Meeting makes a parting sure,
    Life is nothing but death's door.'

For truly--

    'As the downward-running rivers never turn and never stay,
    So the days and nights stream deathward, bearing human lives away.'

And though it be objected that--

    'Bethinking him of darkness grim, and death's unshunned pain,
    A man strong-souled relaxes hold, like leather soaked in rain.'

Yet is this none the less assured, that--

    'From the day, the hour, the minute,
      Each life quickens in the womb;
    Thence its march, no falter in it,
      Goes straight forward to the tomb.'

Form, good friend, a true idea of mundane matters; and bethink thee that
regret is after all but an illusion, an ignorance--

    'An 'twere not so, would sorrow cease with years?
    Wisdom sees aright what want of knowledge fears.'

'Kaundinya listened to all this with the air of a dreamer. Then rising
up he said, 'Enough! the house is hell to me--I will betake me to the

'Will that stead you?' asked Kapila; 'nay--

    'Seek not the wild, sad heart! thy passions haunt it;
    Play hermit in thine house with heart undaunted;
    A governed heart, thinking no thought but good,
    Makes crowded houses holy solitude.'

To be master of one's self--to eat only to prolong life--to yield to
love no more than may suffice to perpetuate a family--and never to speak
but in the cause of truth, this,' said Kapila, 'is armor against grief.
What wouldst thou with a hermit's life--prayer and purification from
sorrow and sin in holy streams? Hear this!--

    'Away with those that preach to us the washing off of sin--
    Thine own self is the stream for thee to make ablutions in:
    In self-restraint it rises pure--flows clear in tide of truth,
    By widening banks of wisdom, in waves of peace and ruth.
    Bathe there, thou son of Pandu! with reverence and rite,
    For never yet was water wet could wash the spirit white.'

Resign thyself to loss. Pain exists absolutely. Ease, what is it but a
minute's alleviation?'

'It is nothing else,' said Kaundinya: 'I will resign myself!'
Thereupon,' the Serpent continued, 'he cursed me with the curse that I
should be a carrier of frogs, and so retired--and here remain I to do
according to the Brahman's malediction.'

'The Frog, hearing all this, went and reported it to Web-foot the
Frog-King, who shortly came himself for an excursion on the Serpent. He
was carried delightfully, and constantly employed the conveyance. But
one day observing the Serpent to be sluggish, he asked the reason.

'May it please you,' explained the Serpent, 'your slave has nothing to

'Eat a few of my frogs,' said the King. 'I give you leave.'

'I thank your Majesty!' answered the Serpent, and forthwith he began to
eat the frogs, until the pond becoming clear, he finished with their
monarch himself. 'I also,' said Night-cloud, 'stooped to conquer, but
King Silver-sides is a good King, and I would your Majesty were at peace
with him.'

'Peace!' cried King Jewel-plume, 'shall I make peace with my vassal! I
have vanquished him--let him serve me!'

"At this moment the Parrot came in. 'Sire!' said he, breathlessly,' the
Stork Strong-bill, Rajah of Ceylon, has raised the standard of revolt in
Jambudwipa, and claims the country.'

'What! what!' cried the King in a fury.

'Excellent good, Goose!' muttered the Minister. 'This is thy work!'

'Bid him but await me!' exclaimed the King, 'and I will tear him up like
a tree!'

'Ah, Sire,' said the Minister--

    'Thunder for nothing, like December's cloud,
    Passes unmarked: strike hard, but speak not loud.'

We cannot march without making peace first; our rear will be attacked.'

'Must it be so?' asked the King.

'My Liege, it must,' replied the Vulture.

'Make a peace then,' said the King, 'and make an end.'

'It is well,' observed the Minister, and set out for the Court of the
King Silver-sides. While he was yet coming, the Crane announced his

'Ah!' said the Swan-King, 'this will be another designing spy from the

'Misdoubt him not!' answered the Goose, smiling, 'it is the Vulture
Far-sight, a spirit beyond suspicion. Would your Majesty be as the Swan
that took the stars reflected in the pool for lily-buds, and being
deceived, would eat no lily-shoots by day, thinking them stars?'

'Not so! but treachery breeds mistrust,' replied the Rajah; is it not

    'Minds deceived by evil natures, from the good their faith withhold;
    When hot conjee once has burned them, children blow upon the cold.'

'It is so written, my Liege,' said the Minister. 'But this one may be
trusted. Let him be received with compliments and a gift.'

'Accordingly the Vulture was conducted, with the most profound respect,
from the fort to the King's audience-hall, where a throne was placed for

'Minister,' said the Goose, 'consider us and ours at thy disposal.'

'So consider us,' assented the Swan-King.

'I thank you,' said Far-sight; 'but--

    'With a gift the miser meet;
    Proud men by obeisance greet;
    Women's silly fancies soothe;
    Give wise men their due--the truth.'

'I am come to conclude a peace, not to claim your kingdom. By what mode
shall we conclude it?'

'How many modes be there?' asked King Silver-sides.

'Sixteen,' replied the Vulture.

'Are the alliances numbered therein?' asked the King.

'No! these be four,' answered the Vulture, 'namely--of mutual help--of
friendship--of blood--and of sacrifice.'

'You are a great diplomatist!' said the King. 'Advise us which to

'There is no Peace like the Golden "Sangata," which is made between good
men, based on friendly feeling, and preceded by the Oath of Truth,'
replied the Vulture.

'Let us make that Peace!' said the Goose. Far-sight accordingly, with
fresh presents of robes and jewels, accompanied the Goose to the camp of
the Peacock-King. The Rajah, Jewel-plume, gave the Goose a gracious
audience, accepted his terms of Peace, and sent him back to the
Swan-King, loaded with gifts and kind speeches. The revolt in Jambudwipa
was suppressed, and the Peacock-King retired to his own kingdom.

"And now," said Vishnu-Sarman, "I have told your Royal Highnesses all.
Is there anything remaining to be told?"

"Reverend Sir!" replied the Princes, "there is nothing. Thanks to you,
we have heard and comprehended the perfect cycle of kingly duty, and are

"There remains but this, then," said their Preceptor:--

      'Peace and Plenty, all fair things,
      Grace the realm where ye reign Kings;
      Grief and loss come not anigh you,
      Glory guide and magnify you;
      Wisdom keep your statesmen still
      Clinging fast, in good or ill,
      Clinging, like a bride new-wed,
      Unto lips, and breast, and head:
    And day by day, that these fair things befall,
    The Lady Lukshmi give her grace to all.'

[21] A young Brahman, being invested with the sacred thread, and having
concluded his studies, becomes of the second order: a householder.


[_Selected from the "Mahâbhârata" Translation by Sir Edwin Arnold_]


The "Mahâbhârata" is the oldest epic in Sanscrit literature, and is
sevenfold greater in bulk than the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" taken together.
This remarkable poem contains almost all the history of ancient India,
so far as it can be recovered, together with inexhaustible details of
its political, social, and religious life--in fact, the antique Hindoo
world stands epitomized in it. The Old Testament is not more interwoven
with the Jewish race, nor the New Testament with the civilization of
Christendom, nor even the Koran with the records and destinies of Islam,
than is this great Sanscrit poem with the unchanging and teeming
population of Hindostan. The stories, songs, and ballads, the
genealogies, the nursery tales and religious discourses, the art, the
learning, the philosophy, the creeds, the modes of thought, the very
phrases and daily ideas of the Hindoo people are taken from this poem.
Their children are named after its heroes; so are their cities, streets,
and even cattle. It is the spiritual life of the Hindoo people. It is
personified, worshipped, and cited as being something divine. To read,
or even to listen, is to the devout Hindoo sufficiently meritorious to
bring prosperity to the fireside in this world, and happiness in the
world to come.

The western world has as yet only received the "Mahâbhârata" in
fragments--mere specimens, bearing to those vast treasures of Sanscrit
literature such small proportion as cabinet samples of ore have to the
riches of a mine. Such knowledge as we have of the great Indian epics is
largely due to Sir William Jones, and the host of translators who
followed him.

In its present shape the "Mahâbhârata" contains some two hundred
thousand verses. The style is forcible, often terse and nervous: the
action is well sustained, and the whole effect produced is that of a
poem written in commemoration of actual conflict between members of
rival clans who lived somewhere southeast of the Punjab. In portrayal of
character the Hindoo poem somewhat resembles its Grecian
counterpart--the "Iliad"; the noble devotion and chivalric character of
its chief hero, Arjuna, reminds us of Hector--and the wily, sinful
Duryodhana, is a second Ulysses. The "Mahâbhârata" was probably begun in
the third or fourth century B.C., and completed soon after the beginning
of the Christian era.

The "Bhârata" war is a war between rival cousins of the house of
Bhârata, a race of heroes mentioned in the Rig-veda collection.
Duryodhana deprives his cousin Yudhisthira of his throne by inducing him
to squander his fortune, kingdom, family, and self--and then banishes
Yudhisthira and the latter's four brothers for twelve years. The
gambling was conducted in an unfair manner, and the cousins feel that
their banishment was the result of treachery, although pretended to be
mercy in lieu of death. When the twelve years are over they collect
armies of sympathizers, and on the Sacred Plain of the Kurus (the Holy
Land of India) the great war is fought out. The good prevails,
Duryodhana is slain, and Yudhisthira recovers his kingdom. This story is
told so graphically that the "Mahâbhârata" still has the charm that
comes from plot and action, as well as that of poetic beauty.

A concluding passage of this great poem says: "The reading of this
'Mahâbhârata' destroys all sin and produces virtue, so much so that the
pronunciation of a single shloka is sufficient to wipe away much guilt.
It has bound human beings in a chain, of which one end is life and the
other death. If a man reads the 'Mahâbhârata' and has faith in its
doctrines, he is free from all sin and ascends to heaven after his

The present selection is the episode of Nala and Damayanti. It is one of
the most charming of the "Mahâbhârata" stories, and its Oriental flavor
and delicacy have been well preserved by the translator, Sir Edwin




Part I

    A prince there was, named Nala, Virasen's noble breed,
    Goodly to see, and virtuous; a tamer of the steed;
    As Indra 'midst the gods, so he of kings was kingliest one,
    Sovereign of men, and splendid as the golden, glittering sun;
    Pure, knowing scripture, gallant; ruling nobly Nishadh's lands;
    Dice-loving, but a proud, true chief of her embattled bands;
    By lovely ladies lauded; free, trained in self-control;
    A shield and bow; a Manu on earth; a royal soul!
    And in Vidarbha's city the Raja Bhima dwelled;
    Save offspring, from his perfect bliss no blessing was withheld;
    For offspring, many a pious rite full patiently he wrought,
    Till Damana the Brahman unto his house was brought.
    Him Bhima, ever reverent, did courteously entreat,
    Within the Queen's pavilion led him, to rest and eat;
    Whereby that sage, grown grateful, gave her--for joy of joys--
    A girl, the gem of girlhood, and three brave lusty boys--
    Damana, Dama, Dânta, their names:--Damayanti she;
    No daughter more delightful, no sons could goodlier be.
    Stately and bright and beautiful did Damayanti grow;
    No land there was which did not the Slender-waisted know;
    A hundred slaves her fair form decked with robe and ornament--
    Like Śachi's self to serve her a hundred virgins bent;
    And 'midst them Bhima's daughter, in peerless glory dight,
    Gleamed as the lightning glitters against the murk of night;
    Having the eyes of Lakshmi, long-lidded, black, and bright--
    Nay--never Gods, nor Yakshas, nor mortal men among
    Was one so rare and radiant e'er seen, or sued, or sung
    As she, the heart-consuming, in heaven itself desired.
    And Nala, too, of princes the Tiger-Prince, admired
    Like Kama was; in beauty an embodied lord of love:
    And ofttimes Nala praised they all other chiefs above
    In Damayanti's hearing; and oftentimes to him,
    With worship and with wonder, her beauty they would limn;
    So that, unmet, unknowing, unseen, in each for each
    A tender thought of longing grew up from seed of speech;
    And love (thou son of Kunti!) those gentle hearts did reach.
      Thus Nala--hardly bearing in his heart
    Such longing--wandered in his palace-woods,
    And marked some water-birds, with painted plumes,
    Disporting. One, by stealthy steps, he seized;
    But the sky-traveller spake to Nala this:--
    "Kill me not, Prince, and I will serve thee well.
    For I, in Damayanti's ear, will say
    Such good of Nishadh's lord, that nevermore
    Shall thought of man possess her, save of thee."
      Thereat the Prince gladly gave liberty
    To his soft prisoner, and all the swans
    Flew, clanging, to Vidarbha--a bright flock--
    Straight to Vidarbha, where the Princess walked;
    And there, beneath her eyes, those winged ones
    Lighted. She saw them sail to earth, and marked--
    Sitting amid her maids--their graceful forms;
    While those for wantonness 'gan chase the swans,
    Which fluttered this and that way through the grove:
    Each girl with tripping feet her bird pursued,
    And Damayanti, laughing, followed hers;
    Till--at the point to grasp--the flying prey
    Deftly eluding touch, spake as men speak,
    Addressing Bhima's daughter:--
                                  "Lady dear!
    Loveliest Damayanti! Nala dwells
    In near Nishadha: oh, a noble Prince,
    Not to be matched of men; an Aświn he,
    For goodliness. Incomparable maid!
    Wert thou but wife to that surpassing chief,
    Rich would the fruit grow from such lordly birth,
    Such peerless beauty. Slender-waisted one,
    Gods, men, and Gandharvas have we beheld,
    But never none among them like to him.
    As thou art pearl of princesses, so he
    Is crown of princes; happy would it fall,
    One such perfection should another wed."
      And when she heard that bird (O King of men!)
    The Princess answered: "Go, dear swan, and tell
    This same to Nala;" and the egg-born said,
    "I go"--and flew; and told the Prince of all.
      But Damayanti, having heard the bird,
    Lived fancy-free no more; by Nala's side
    Her soul dwelt, while she sat at home distraught,
    Mournful and wan, sighing the hours away,
    With eyes upcast, and passion-laden looks;
    So that, eftsoons, her limbs failed, and her mind--
    With love o'erweighted--found no rest in sleep,
    No grace in company, no joy at feasts.
    Nor night nor day brought peace; always she heaved
    Sigh upon sigh, till all her maidens knew--
    By glance and mien and moan--how changed she was,
    Her own sweet self no more. Then to the King
    They told how Damayanti loved the Prince.
    Which thing when Bhima from her maidens heard,
    Deep pondering for his child what should be done,
    And why the Princess was beside herself,
    That lord of lands perceived his daughter grown,
    And knew that for her high Swayamvara
    The time was come.
                       So, to the Rajas all
    The King sent word: "Ye Lords of Earth, attend
    Of Damayanti the Swayamvara."
    And when these learned of her Swayamvara,
    Obeying Bhima, to his court they thronged--
    Elephants, horses, cars--over the land
    In full files wending, bearing flags and wreaths
    Of countless hues, with gallant companies
    Of fighting men. And those high-hearted chiefs
    The strong-armed King welcomed with worship fair,
    As fitted each, and led them to their seats.
      Now at that hour there passed towards Indra's heaven,
    Thither from earth ascending, those twain saints--
    The wise, the pure, the mighty-minded ones,
    The self-restrained--Narad and Parvata.
    The mansion of the Sovereign of the Gods
    In honor entered they; and he, the Lord
    Of Clouds, dread Indra, softly them salutes,
    Inquiring of their weal, and of the world
    Wherethrough their name was famous, how it fares.
      Then Narad said: "Well is it, Lord of Gods,
    With us, and with our world; and well with those
    Who rule the peoples, O thou King in Heaven!"
      But He that slew the Demons spake again:--
    "The princes of the earth, just-minded, brave,
    Those who, in battle fearing not to fall,
    See death on the descending blade, and charge
    Full front against it, turning not their face--
    Theirs is this realm eternal, as to me
    The cow of plenty, Kâmadhuk, belongs.
    Where be my Kshatriya warriors? Wherefore now
    See I none coming of those slaughtered lords,
    Chiefs of mankind, our always honored guests?"
      And unto Indra Narad gave reply:--
    "King of the Air! no wars are waged below;
    None fall in fight, to enter here. The Lord
    Of high Vidarbha hath a daughter, famed
    For loveliness beyond all earthly maids,
    The Princess Damayanti, far-renowned.
    Of her, dread Sakra! the Swayamvara
    Shall soon befall, and thither now repair
    The kings and princes of all lands, to woo--
    Each for himself--this pearl of womanhood.
    For oh, thou Slayer of the Demons, all
    Desire the maid."
                     Drew round, while Narad spake,
    The Masters, th'Immortals, pressing in
    With Agni and the Greatest, near the throne,
    To listen to the speech of Narada;
    Whom having heard, all cried delightedly,
    "We, too, will go." Thereupon those high gods,
    With chariots, and with heavenly retinues,
    Sped to Vidarbha, where the kings were met.
    And Nala, knowing of this kingly tryst,
    Went thither joyous, heart-full with the thought
    Of Damayanti.
                  Thus it chanced the gods
    Beheld the Prince wending along his road,
    Goodly of mien, as is the Lord of Love.
    The world's Protectors saw him, like a sun
    For splendor; and, in very wonder, paused
    Some time irresolute, so fair he was;
    Then in mid-sky their golden chariots stayed,
    And through the clouds descending called to him:--
    "Abo! Nala of Nishadha! Noblest Prince,
    Be herald for us; bear our message now."
      "Yea!" Nala made reply, "this will I do"--
    And then--palm unto palm in reverence pressed--
    Asked: "Shining Ones, who are ye? Unto whom,
    And what words bearing, will ye that I go?
    Deign to instruct me what it is ye bid."
    Thus the Prince spake, and Indra answered him:--
    "Thou seest th'immortal gods. Indra am I,
    And this is Agni, and the other here,
    Varuna, Lord of Waters; and beyond,
    Yama, the King of Death, who parteth souls
    From mortal frames. To Damayanti go;
    Tell our approach. Say this: 'The world's dread lords,
    Wishful to see thee, come; desiring thee--
    Indra, Varuna, Agni, Yama, all.
    Choose of these powers to which thou wilt be given.'"
    But Nala, hearing that, joined palms again,
    And cried: "Ah, send me not, with one accord
    For this, most mighty Gods! How should a man
    Sue for another, being suitor too?
    How bear such errand? Have compassion, Gods!"
      Then spake they: "Yet thou saidst, 'This shall I do,'
    Nishadha's Prince! and wilt thou do it not,
    Forswearing faith? Nay, but depart, and soon!"
      So bid, but lingering yet again, he said:--
    "Well guarded are the gates; how shall I find
    Speech with her?"
                      "Thou shalt find," Indra replied.
    And, lo! upon that word Nala was brought
    To Damayanti's chamber. There he saw
    Vidarbha's glory, sitting 'mid her maids,
    In majesty and grace surpassing all;
    So exquisite, so delicate of form,
    Waist so fine-turned, such limbs, such lighted eyes,
    The moon hath meaner radiance than she.
    Love at the sight of that soft smiling face
    Sprang to full passion, while he stood and gazed.
    Yet, faith and duty urging, he restrained
    His beating heart; but when those beauteous maids
    Spied Nala, from their cushions they uprose,
    Startled to see a man, yet startled more
    Because he showed so heavenly bright and fair.
    In wondering pleasure each saluted him,
    Uttering no sound, but murmuring to themselves:--
    "Aho! the grace of him: aho! the brilliance;
    Aho! what glorious strength lives in his limbs!
    What is he? Is he God, Gandharva, Yaksha?"
    But this unspoken, for they dared not breathe
    One syllable, all standing shyly there
    To see him, and to see his youth so sweet.
    Yet, softly glancing back to his soft glance,
    The Princess, presently, with fluttering breath,
    Accosted Nala, saying: "Fairest Prince,
    Who by thy faultless form hath filled my heart
    With sudden joy, coming as come the gods,
    Unstayed, I crave to know thee, who thou art;
    How didst thou enter? how wert thou unseen?
    Our palace is close-guarded, and the King
    Hath issued mandates stern."
                                Tenderly spake
    The Prince, replying to those tender words:--
    "Most lovely! I am Nala. I am come
    A herald of the gods unto thee here.
    The gods desire thee, the immortal Four--
    Indra, Varuna, Yama, Agni. Choose,
    O Brightest! one from these to be thy lord.
    By their help is it I have entered in
    Unseen; none could behold me at thy gates,
    Nor stay me, passing; and to speak their will
    They sent me, fairest one and best. Do thou,
    Knowing the message, judge as seemeth well."
      She bowed her head, hearing the great gods named,
    And then, divinely smiling, said to him:--
    "Pledge thyself faithfully to me, and I
    Will seek, O Raja, only how to pay
    That debt with all I am, with all I have;
    For I and mine are thine--in full trust thine.
    Make me that promise, Prince. Thy gentle name--
    Sung by the swan--first set my thoughts afire;
    And for thy sake--only for thee--sweet Lord,
    The kings were summoned hither. If, alas!
    Fair Prince, thou dost reject my sudden love,
    So proffered, then must poison, flame, or flood,
    Or knitted cord, be my sad remedy."
      So spake Vidarbha's Pride; and Nala said:--
    "With gods so waiting--with the world's dread lords
    Hastening to woo, canst thou desire a man?
    Bethink! I, unto these, that make and mar,
    These all-wise ones, almighty, am like dust
    Under their feet: lift thy heart to the height
    Of what I bring. If mortal man offend
    The most high gods, death is what springs of it.
    Spare me to live, thou faultless lady! Choose
    Which of these excellent great gods thou wilt;
    Wear the unstained robes! bear on thy brows
    The wreaths which never fade, of heavenly blooms!
    Be, as thou mayest, a goddess, and enjoy
    Godlike delights! Him who enfolds the earth,
    Creating and consuming, Brightest Power,
    Hutâsa, Eater of the Sacrifice,
    What woman would not take? Or him whose rod
    Herds all the generations forward still
    On virtue's path, Red Yama, King of Death,
    What woman would affront? Or him, the all-good,
    All-wise destroyer of the Demons, first
    In heaven, Mahendra--who of womankind
    Is there that would not wed? Or, if thy mind
    Incline, doubt not to choose Varuna; he
    Is of these world-protectors. From a heart
    Full friendly cometh what I tell thee now."
      Unto Nishadha's Prince the maid replied--
    Tears of distress dimming her lustrous eyes---
    "Humbly I reverence these mighty gods;
    But thee I choose, and thee I take for lord;
    And this I vow!"
                     With folded palms she stood,
    And trembling lips, while his faint answer fell:--
    "Sent on such embassy, how shall I dare
    Speak, sweetest Princess, for myself to thee?
    Bound by my promise for the gods to sue,
    How can I be a suitor for myself?
    Silence is here my duty; afterwards,
    If I shall come, in mine own name I'll come,
    Mine own cause pleading. Ah, might that so be!"
      Checking her tears, Damayanti sadly smiled,
    And said full soft: "One way of hope I see,
    A blameless way, O Lord of men! wherefrom
    No fault shall rise, nor any danger fall.
    Thou also, Prince, with Indra and these gods,
    Must enter in where my Swayamvara
    Is held; then I, in presence of those gods,
    Will choose thee, dearest, for my lord; and so
    Blame shall not light on thee,"
                                    With which sweet words
    Soft in his ears, Nishadha straight returned
    There where the gods were gathered, waiting him;
    Whom the world's masters, on his way, perceived,
    And, spying, questioned, asking for his news:--
    "Saw'st thou her, Prince? Didst see the sweet-lipped one?
    What spake she of us? Tell us true; tell all!"
      Quoth Nala: "By your worshipful behest
    Sent to her house, the great gates entered I,
    Though the gray porters watched; but none might spy
    My entering, by your power, O radiant Ones,
    Saving the Raja's daughter; her I saw
    Amid her maidens, and by them was seen.
    On me with much amazement they did gaze
    Whilst I your high Divinities extolled.
    But she that hath the lovely face, with mind
    Set upon me, hath chosen me, ye Gods.
    For thus she spake, my Princess: 'Let them come,
    And come thou, like a lordly tiger, too,
    Unto the place of my Swayamvara;
    There will I choose thee in their presence, Prince,
    To be my lord; and so there will not fall
    Blame, thou strong-armed! to thee,' This she did say
    Even as I tell it; and what shall be next,
    To will is yours, O ye immortal Ones!"
      Soon, when the moon was good, and day and hour
    Were found propitious, Bhima, King of men,
    Summoned the chiefs to the Swayamvara;
    Upon which message all those eager lords
    For love of Damayanti hastened there.
    Glorious with gilded pillars was the court,
    Whereto a gate-house opened, and thereby
    Into the square, like lions from the hills,
    Paced the proud guests; and there their seats they took,
    Each in his rank, the masters of the lands,
    With crowns of fragrant blossoms garlanded,
    And polished jewels swinging in their ears.
    Of some the thews, knitted and rough, stood forth
    Like iron maces; some had slender limbs,
    Sleek and fine-turned like the five-headed snake;
    Lords with long-flowing hair; glittering lords;
    High-nosed, and eagle-eyed, and heavy-browed;
    The faces of those kings shone in a ring
    As shine at night the stars; and that great square
    As thronged with Rajas was as Naga-land
    Is full of serpents; thick with warlike chiefs
    As mountain-caves with panthers. Unto these
    Entered, in matchless majesty of form,
    The Princess Damayanti. As she came,
    The glory of her ravished eyes and hearts,
    So that the gaze of all those haughty kings,
    Fastening upon her loveliness, grew fixed--
    Not moving save with her--step after step
    Onward and always following the maid.
      But while the styles and dignities of all
    Were cried aloud (O son of Bhârat!), lo!
    The Princess marked five of that throng alike
    In form and garb and visage. There they stood,
    Each from the next undifferenced, but each
    Nala's own self;--yet which might Nala be
    In nowise could that doubting maid descry.
    Who took her eye seemed Nala while she gazed,
    Until she looked upon his like; and so
    Pondered the lovely lady, sore-perplexed,
    Thinking, "How shall I tell which be the gods,
    And which is noble Nala?" Deep-distressed
    And meditative waxed she, musing hard
    What those signs were, delivered us of old,
    Whereby gods may be known: "Of all those signs
    Taught by our elders, lo! I see not one
    Where stand yon five." So murmured she, and turned
    Over and over every mark she knew.
    At last, resolved to make the gods themselves
    Her help at need, with reverent air and voice
    Humbly saluted she those heavenly ones,
    And with joined palms and trembling accents spake:--
    "As, when I heard the swans, I chose my Prince,
    By that sincerity I call ye, Gods,
    To show my Love to me and make me know!
    As in my heart and soul and speech I stand
    True to my choice, by that sincerity
    I call the all-knowing gods to make me know!
    As the high gods created Nishadha's chief
    To be my lord, by their sincerity
    I bid them show themselves, and make me know!
    As my vow, sealed to him, must be maintained
    For his name, and for mine, I call the gods
    By such sincerity to make me know!
    Let them appear, the masters of the world--
    The high gods--each one in his proper shape,
    That I may see Nishadha's chief, my choice,
    Whom minstrels praise, and Damayanti loves."
      Hearing that earnest speech--so passion-fraught,
    So full of truth, of strong resolve, of love,
    Of singleness of soul and constancy--
    Even as she spake, the gods disclosed themselves.
    By well-seen signs the effulgent Ones she knew.
    Shadowless stood they, with unwinking eyes,
    And skins which never moist with sweat; their feet
    Light-gliding o'er the ground, not touching it;
    The unfading blossoms on their brows not soiled
    By earthly dust, but ever fair and fresh.
    Whilst, by their side, garbed so and visaged so,
    But doubled by his shadow, stained with dust,
    The flower-cups wiltering in his wreath, his skin
    Pearly with sweat, his feet upon the earth,
    And eyes a-wink, stood Nala. One by one
    Glanced she on those divinities, then bent
    Her gaze upon the Prince, and, joyous, said:--
    "I know thee, and I name my rightful lord,
    Taking Nishadha's chief." Therewith she drew
    Modestly nigh, and held him by the cloth,
    With large eyes beaming love, and round his neck
    Hung the bright chaplet, love's delicious crown;
    So choosing him--him only--whom she named
    Before the face of all to be her lord.
      Oh, then brake forth from all those suitors proud,
    "Ha!" and "Aho!" But from the gods and saints,
    "Sadhu! well done! well done!" And all admired
    The happy Prince, praising the grace of him;
    While Virasena's son, delightedly,
    Spake to the slender-waisted these fond words:--
    "Fair Princess! since, before all gods and men,
    Thou makest me thy choice, right glad am I
    Of this thy mind, and true lord will I be.
    For so long, loveliest, as my breath endures,
    Thine am I! Thus I plight my troth to thee."
    So, with joined palms, unto that beauteous maid
    His gentle faith he pledged, rejoicing her;
    And, hand in hand, radiant with mutual love,
    Before great Agni and the gods they passed,
    The world's protectors worshipping.
                                       Then those,
    The lords of life, the powerful Ones, bestowed--
    Being well-pleased--on Nala, chosen so,
    Eight noble boons. The boon which Indra gave
    Was grace, at times of sacrifice, to see
    The visible god approach, with step divine;
    And Agni's boon was this, that he would come
    Whenever Nala called--for everywhere
    Hutâsa shineth, and all worlds are his;
    Yama gave skill in cookery, steadfastness
    In virtue; and Varuna, King of Floods,
    Bade all the waters ripple at his call.
    These boons the high gods doubled by the gift
    Of bright wreaths wove with magic blooms of heaven;
    And those bestowed, ascended to their seats.
    Also with wonder and with joy returned
    The Rajas and the Maharajas all,
    Full of the marriage-feast; for Bhima made,
    In pride and pleasure, stately nuptials;
    So Damayanti and the Prince were wed.
      Then, having tarried as is wont, that lord--
    Nishadha's chief--took the King's leave, and went
    Unto his city, bringing home with him
    His jewel of all womanhood, with whom
    Blissful he lived, as lives by Śachi's side
    The slayer of the Demons. Like a sun
    Shone Nala on his throne, ruling his folk
    In strength and virtue, guardian of his state.
    Also the Aśwamedha Rite he made
    Greatest of rites, the Offering of the Horse,
    As did Yayâti; and all other acts
    Of worship; and to sages gave rich gifts.
      Many dear days of much delicious love,
    In pleasant gardens and in shadowy groves,
    Passed they together, sojourning like gods.
    And Damayanti bore unto her lord
    A boy named Indrasen, and next, a girl
    Named Indrasena. So in happiness
    The good Prince governed, seeing all his lands
    Wealthy and well, in piety and peace.
      Now at the choosing of Nishadha's chief
    By Bhima's daughter, when those lords of life--
    The effulgent gods--departed, Dwapara
    They saw with Kali, coming. Indra said--
    The Demon-slayer--spying these approach:--
    "Whither, with Dwapara, goest thou to-day,
    O Kali?" And the sombre Shade replied:--
    "To Damayanti's high Swayamvara
    I go, to make her mine, since she hath passed
    Into my heart." But Indra, laughing, said:--
    "Ended is that Swayamvara; for she
    Hath taken Raja Nala for her lord,
    Before us all," But Kali, hearing this,
    Breaks into wrath--while he stood worshipping
    That band divine--and furiously cries:--
    "If she hath set a man above the gods,
    To wed with him, for such sin let there fall
    Doom, rightful, swift, and terrible, on her!"
    "Nay," answered unto him those heavenly ones,
    "But Damayanti chose with our good-will;
    And what maid but would choose so fair a prince,
    Seeing he hath all qualities, and knows
    Virtue, and rightly practises the vows,
    And reads the four great Vedas, and, what's next,
    The Holy Stories, whilst, perpetually,
    The gods are honored in his house with gifts?
    No hurt he does, kind to all living things;
    True of word is he, faithful, liberal, just;
    Steadfast and patient, temperate and pure;
    A king of men is Nala, like the gods.
    He that would curse a prince of such a mould,
    Thou foolish Kali, lays upon himself
    A sin to crush himself; the curse comes back
    And sinks him in the bottomless vast gulf
    Of Narak."
              Thus the gods to Kali spake,
    And mounted heavenward; whereupon that Shade,
    Frowning, to Dwapara burst forth: "My rage
    Beareth no curb. Henceforth in Nala I
    Will dwell; his kingdom I will make to fall;
    His bliss with Damayanti I will mar;
    And thou within the dice shalt enter straight,
    And help me, Dwapara! to drag him down,"
      Into which compact entering, those repaired--
    Kali and Dwapara--to Nala's house,
    And haunted in Nishadha, where he ruled,
    Seeking occasion 'gainst the blameless Prince.
    Long watched they; twelve years rolled ere Kali saw
    The fateful fault arrive; Nishadha's Lord,
    Easing himself, and sprinkling hands and lips
    With purifying water, passed to prayer,
    His feet unwashed, offending. Kali straight
    Possessed the heedless Raja, entering him.
      That hour there sat with Nala, Pushkara
    His brother; and the evil spirit hissed
    Into the ear of Pushkara: "Ehi!
    Arise, and challenge Nala at the dice.
    Throw with the Prince! it may be thou shalt win
    (Luck helping thee, and I) Nishadha's throne,
    Town, treasures, palace--thou mayest gain them all."
    And Pushkara, hearing Kali's evil voice,
    Made near to Nala, with the dice in hand
    (A great piece for the "Bull," and little ones
    For "Cows," and Kali hiding in the Bull).
    So Pushkara came to Nala's side and said:--
    "Play with me, brother, at the 'Cows and Bull';"
    And, being put off, cried mockingly, "Nay, play!"
    Shaming the Prince, whose spirit chafed to leave
    A gage unfaced; but when Vidarbha's gem,
    The Princess, heard that challenge, Nala rose:
    "Yea, Pushkara, I will play!" fiercely he said;
    And to the game addressed.
                              His gems he lost,
    Armlets and belt and necklet; next the gold
    Of the palace and its vessels; then the cars
    Yoked with swift steeds; and last, the royal robes:
    For, cast by cast, the dice against him fell,
    Bewitched by Kali; and, cast after cast,
    The passion of the dice kept hold on him,
    Until not one of all his faithfullest
    Could stay the madman's hand and gamester's heart
    Of who was named "Subduer of his Foes."
      The townsmen gathered with the ministers:
    Into that palace gate they thronged (my King!)
    To see their lord, if so they might abate
    This sickness of his soul. The charioteer,
    Forth standing from their midst, low worshipping,
    Spake thus to Damayanti: "Great Princess,
    Before thy door all the grieved city sits.
    Say to our lord for us, 'Thy folk are here;
    They mourn that evil fortunes hold their liege,
    Who was so high and just,'" Then she, deject,
    Passed in, and to Nishadha's ruler said,
    Her soft voice broken, and her bright eyes dimmed:--
    "Raja, the people of thy town are here;
    Before our gates they gather, citizens
    And counsellors, desiring speech with thee;
    In lealty they come. Wilt thou be pleased
    We open to them? Wilt thou?" So she asked
    Again and yet again; but not one word
    To that sad lady with the lovely brows
    Did Nala answer, wholly swallowed up
    Of Kali and the gaming; so that those--
    The citizens and counsellors--cried out,
    "Our lord is changed! He is not Nala now!"
    And home returned, ashamed and sorrowful;
    Whilst ceaselessly endured that foolish play
    Moon after moon--the Prince the loser still.
      Then Damayanti, seeing so estranged
    Her lord, the praised in song, the chief of men,
    Watching, all self-possessed, his fantasy,
    And how the gaming held him; sad, and 'feared,
    The heavy fortunes pondering of her Prince;
    Hating the fault, but to the offender kind;
    And fearing Nala should be stripped of all,
    This thing devised: Vrihatsenâ she called--
    Her foster-nurse and faithful ministrant--
    True, skilful at all service, soft of speech,
    Kind-hearted; and she said, "Vrihatsenâ,
    Go call the ministers to council now,
    As though 'twere Nala bade; and make them count
    What store is gone of treasure, what abides."
    So went Vrihatsenâ, and summoned those;
    And when they knew all things, as from the Prince,
    "Truly we, too, shall perish!" cried they then;
    And all to Nala went, and all the town,
    A second time assembling, thronged his gates:--
    Which Bhima's daughter told; but not one word
    Answered the Prince. And when she saw her lord
    Put by her plea, utterly slighting it,
    Back to her chamber, full of shame, she goes,
    And there still hears the dice are falling ill;
    Still hears of Nala daily losing more;
    So that again unto her nurse she spake:--
    "Send to Varshneya, good Vrihatsenâ;
    Say to the charioteer--in Nala's name--
    'A great thing is to do. Come thou!'" And this--
    So soon as Damayanti uttered it--
    Vrihatsenâ, by faithful servants, told
    Unto the son of Vrishni, who, being come
    In fitting time and place, heard the sweet Queen
    In mournful music speak these wistful words:--
    "Thou knowest how thy Raja trusted thee;
    Now he hath fall'n on evil; succor him!
    The more that Pushkara conquers in the play,
    The wilder rage of gaming takes thy lord--
    The more for Pushkara the dice light well,
    More contrary they happen to the Prince:
    Nor heeds he, as were meet, kindred or friends;
    Nay, of myself he putteth by the prayer
    Unanswered, being bewitched; for well I deem
    This is not noble-minded Nala's sin,
    But some ill spell possesseth him to shut
    His ears to me. Thou, therefore, charioteer!
    Our refuge be; do what I shall command;
    My heart is dark with fear. Yea, it may fall
    Our lord will perish. Wherefore, harnessing
    His chosen steeds, which fly as swift as thought.
    Take these our children in the chariot
    And drive to Kundina, delivering there
    Unto my kin the little ones, and car,
    And horses. Afterwards abide thou there,
    Or otherwhere depart."
                           Varshneya heard
    The words of Damayanti, and forthwith
    In Nala's council-hall recounted them,
    The chief men being present; who, thus met,
    And long debating, gave him leave to go.
    So with that royal pair to Bhima's town
    Drove he, and at Vidarbha rendered up,
    Together with the swift steeds and the car,
    That sweet maid Indrasena, and the Prince
    Indrasen, and made reverence to the King,
    Saddened for sake of Nala. Afterwards
    Taking his leave, unto Ayodhyâ
    Varshneya went, exceeding sorrowful,
    And with King Rituparna (O my Prince!)
    Took service as a charioteer.
                                  These gone--
    The praised-of-poets, Nala, still played on,
    Till Pushkara his kingdom's wealth had won,
    And whatso was to lose beside. Thereat
    With scornful laugh mocked he that beggared Prince,
    Saying, "One other throw; once more!--Yet sooth,
    What canst thou stake? Nothing is left for thee
    Save Damayanti; all the rest is mine.
    Play we for Damayanti, if thou wilt."
    But hearing this from Pushkara, the Prince
    So in his heart by grief and shame was torn,
    No word he uttered--only glared in wrath
    Upon his mocker, upon Pushkara.
    Then, his rich robes and jewels stripping off,
    Uncovered, with one cloth, 'mid waiting friends
    Sorrowful passed he forth, his great state gone;
    The Princess, with one garment, following him,
    Piteous to see. And there without the gates
    Three nights they lay--Nashadha's King and Queen.
    Upon the fourth day Pushkara proclaimed,
    Throughout the city, "Whoso yieldeth help
    To Nala, dieth! Let my will be known!"
      So, for this bitter word of Pushkara's power
    (O Yudhisthir!) the townsmen rendered not
    Service nor love, but left them outcast there,
    Unhelped, whom all the city should have helped.
    Yet three nights longer tarried he, his drink
    The common pool, his meat such fruits and roots
    As miserable hunger plucks from earth:
    Then fled they from those walls, the Prince going first,
    The Princess following.
                            After grievous days,
    Pinched ever with sharp famine, Nala saw
    A flock of gold-winged birds lighting anigh,
    And to himself the famished Raja said:--
    "Lo! here is food; this day we shall have store;"
    Then lightly cast his cloth and covered them.
    But these, fluttering aloft, bore with them there
    Nala's one cloth; and, hovering overhead,
    Uttered sharp-stinging words, reviling him
    Even as he stood, naked to all the airs,
    Downcast and desperate: "Thou brain-sick Prince!
    We are the dice; we come to ravish hence
    Thy last poor cloth; we were not well content
    Thou shouldst depart owning a garment still."
    And when he saw the dice take wings and fly,
    Leaving him bare, to Damayanti spake
    This melancholy Prince: "O Blameless One,
    They by whose malice I am driven forth,
    Finding no sustenance, sad, famine-gaunt--
    They whose decree forbade Nishadha's folk
    Should succor me, their Raja--these have come--
    Demon and dice--and like to winged birds
    Have borne away my cloth. To such shame fall'n,
    Such utmost woe, wretched, demented--I
    Thy lord am still, and counsel thee for good.
    Attend! Hence be there many roads which go
    Southwards: some pass Avanti's walls, and some
    Skirt Rikshavan, the forest of the bears;
    This wends to Vindhya's lofty peaks, and this
    To the green banks where quick Payoshni runs
    Seaward, between her hermitages, rich
    In fruits and roots; and yon path leadeth thee
    Unto Vidarbha; that to Kosala,
    And therefrom southward--southward--far away."
      So spake he to the Princess wistfully,
    Between his words pointing along the paths,
    Which she should take (O King!). But Bhima's child
    Made answer, bowed with grief, her soft voice choked
    With sobs, these piteous accents uttering:--
      "My heart beats quick; my body's force is gone,
    Thinking, dear Prince, on this which thou hast said,
    Pointing along the paths. What! robbed of realm,
    Stripped of thy wealth, bare, famished, parched with thirst,
    Thus shall I leave thee in the untrodden wood?
    Ah, no! While thou dost muse on dear days fled,
    Hungry and weeping, I in this wild waste
    Will charm thy griefs away, solacing thee.
    The wisest doctors say, 'In every woe
    No better physic is than wifely love,'
    And, Nala, I will make it true to thee."
      "Thou mak'st it true," he said; "thou sayest well,
    Sweet Damayanti; neither is there friend
    To sad men given better than a wife.
    I had not thought to leave thee, foolish Love!
    Why didst thou fear? Alas, 't is from myself
    That I would fly--not thee, thou Faultless One!"
      "Yet, if," the Princess answered, "Maharaja!
    Thou hadst no thought to leave me, why by thee
    Was the way pointed to Vidarbha's walls?
    I know thou wouldst not quit me, noblest Lord,
    Being thyself, but only if thy mind
    Were sore distraught; and see, thou gazest still
    Along the southward road, my dread thereby
    Increasing, thou that wert as are the gods!
    If it be thy fixed thought, 'Twere best she went
    Unto her people'--be it so; I go;
    But hand in hand with thee. Thus let us fare
    Unto Vidarbha, where the King, my sire,
    Will greet thee well, and honor thee; and we
    Happy and safe within his gates shall dwell."
      "As is thy father's kingdom," Nala said,
    "So, once, was mine. Be sure, whatever betide,
    Never will I go thither! How, in sooth,
    Should I, who came there glorious, gladdening thee,
    Creep back, thy shame and scorn, disconsolate?"
      So to sweet Damayanti spake the Prince,
    Beguiling her, whom now one cloth scarce clad--
    For but one garb they shared; and thus they strayed
    Hither and thither, faint for meat and drink,
    Until a little hut they spied; and there,
    Nishadha's monarch, entering, sat him down
    On the bare ground, the Princess by his side--
    Vidarbha's glory, wearing that scant cloth,
    Without a mat, soiled by the dust and mire.
    At Damayanti's side he sank asleep,
    Outworn; and beauteous Damayanti slept,
    Spent with strange trials--- she so gently reared,
    So soft and holy. But while slumbering thus,
    No peaceful rest knew Nala. Trouble-tossed
    He woke, forever thinking of his realm
    Lost, lieges estranged, and all the griefs
    Of that wild wood. These on his heart came back,
    And, "What if I shall do it? What, again,
    If I shall do it not?" So murmured he.
    "Would death be better, or to leave my Love?
    For my sake she endures this woe, my fate
    Too fondly sharing; freed from me, her steps
    Would turn unto her people. At my side,
    Sure suffering is her portion; but apart,
    It might be she would somewhere comfort find."
      Thus with himself debating o'er and o'er,
    The Prince resolves abandonment were best.
    "For how," saith he, "should any in the wood
    Harm her, so radiant in her grace, so good,
    So noble, virtuous, faithful, famous, pure?"
    Thus mused his miserable mind, seduced
    By Kali's cursed mischiefs to betray
    His sleeping wife. Then, seeing his loin-cloth gone,
    And Damayanti clad, he drew anigh,
    Thinking to take of hers, and muttering,
    "May I not rend one fold, and she not know?"
    So meditating, round the cabin crept
    Prince Nala, feeling up and down its walls;
    And, presently, within the purlieus found
    A naked knife, keen-tempered; therewithal
    Shred he away a piece, and bound it on;
    Then made with desperate steps to seek the waste,
    Leaving the Princess sleeping; but, anon,
    Turns back again in changeful mood and glides
    Into the hut, and, gazing wistfully
    On slumbering Damayanti, moans with tears:--
    "Ah, Sweetheart! whom nor wind nor sun before
    Hath ever rudely touched; thou to be couched
    In this poor hut, its floor thy bed, and I,
    Thy lord, deserting thee, stealing from thee
    Thy last robe! O my Love with the bright smile,
    My slender-waisted Queen! Will she not wake
    To madness? Yea, and when she wanders lone
    In the dark wood, haunted with beasts and snakes,
    How will it fare with Bhima's tender child,
    The bright and peerless? O my life, my wife!
    May the great sun, may the Eight Powers of air,
    The Rudras, Maruts, and the Aświns twain,
    Guard thee, thou true and dear one, on thy way!"
      So to his sleeping Queen--on all the earth
    Unmatched for beauty--spake he piteously;
    Then breaks away once more, by Kali driven.
    But yet another and another time
    Stole back into the hut, for one last gaze--
    That way by Kali dragged, this way by love.
    Two hearts he had--the trouble-stricken Prince--
    One beating "Go," one throbbing "Stay"; and thus
    Backwards and forwards swung his mind between,
    Till, mastered by the sorrow and the spell,
    Frantic flies Nala, leaving there alone
    That tender-sleeper, sighing as she slept.
    He flies--the soulless prey of Kali flies;
    Still, while he hurries through the forest drear,
    Thinking upon that sweet face he hath left.
      Far distant (King!) was Nala, when, refreshed,
    The slender-waisted wakened, shuddering
    At the wood's silence; but when, seeking him,
    She found no Nala, sudden anguish seized
    Her frightened heart, and, lifting high her voice,
    Loud cries she: "Maharaja! Nishadha's Prince!
    Ha, Lord! ha, Maharaja! ha, Master! why
    Hast thou abandoned me? Now am I lost,
    Am doomed, undone, left in this lonesome gloom.
    Wert thou not named, O Nala, true and just?
    Yet art thou such, to quit me while I slept?
    And hast thou so forsaken me, thy wife--
    Thine own fond wife--who never wrought thee wrong
    When by all others wrong was wrought on thee?
    Mak'st thou it good to me, now, Lord of men,
    That love which long ago before the gods
    Thou didst proclaim? Alas! Death will not come,
    Except at his appointed time to men,
    And therefore for a little I shall live,
    Whom thou hast lived to leave. Nay, 't is a jest!
    Ah, Truant, Runaway, enough thou play'st!
    Come forth, my Lord!--I am afraid! Come forth!
    Linger not, for I see--I spy thee there;
    Thou art within yon thicket! Why not speak
    One word, Nishadha? Nala, cruel Prince!
    Thou know'st me, lone, and comest not to calm
    My terrors, and be with me in my need.
    Art gone indeed? Then I'll not mourn myself,
    For whatso may befall me; I must think
    How desolate thou art, and weep for thee.
    What wilt thou do, thirsty and hungry, spent
    With wandering, when, at nightfall, 'mid the trees
    Thou hast me not, sweet Prince, to comfort thee?"
      Thereat, distracted by her bitter fears,
    Like one whose heart is fire, forward and back
    She runs, hither and thither, weeping, wild.
    One while she sinks to earth, one while she springs
    Quick to her feet; now utterly overcome
    By fear and fasting, now by grief driven mad,
    Wailing and sobbing; till anon, with moans
    And broken sighs and tears, Bhima's fair child,
    The ever-faithful wife, speaks thus again:--
    "By whomsoever's spell this harm hath fall'n
    On Nishadha's Lord, I pray that evil one
    May bear a bitterer plague than Nala doth!
    To him, whoever set my guileless Prince
    On these ill deeds, I pray some direr might
    May bring far darker days, and life to live
    More miserable still!"
                          Thus, woe-begone,
    Mourned that great-hearted wife her vanished lord,
    Seeking him ever in the gloomy shades,
    By wild beasts haunted. Roaming everywhere,
    Like one possessed, frantic, disconsolate,
    Went Bhima's daughter. "Ha, ha! Maharaja!"
    So crying runs she, so in every place
    Is heard her ceaseless wail, as when is heard
    The fish-hawk's cry, which screams, and circling screams,
    And will not stint complaining.
    Straying too near his den, a serpent's coils
    Seized Bhima's daughter. A prodigious snake,
    Glittering and strong, and furious for food,
    Knitted about the Princess. She, o'erwhelmed
    With horror, and the cold enfolding death,
    Spends her last breaths in pitiful laments
    For Nala, not herself. "Ah, Prince!" she cried,
    "That would have saved me, who must perish now,
    Seized in the lone wood by this hideous snake,
    Why art thou not beside me? What will be
    Thy thought, Nishadha! me remembering
    In days to come, when, from the curse set free,
    Thou hast thy noble mind again, thyself,
    Thy wealth--all save thy wife? Then thou'lt be sad,
    Be weary, wilt need food and drink; but I
    Shall minister no longer. Who will tend
    My Love, my Lord, my Lion among kings,
    My blameless Nala--Damayanti dead?"
      That hour a hunter, roving through the brake,
    Heard her bewailing, and with quickened steps
    Made nigh, and, spying a woman, almond-eyed,
    Lovely, forlorn, by that fell monster knit,
    He ran, and, as he came, with keen shaft clove,
    Through gaping mouth and crown, th'unwitting worm,
    Slaying it. Then the woodman from its folds
    Freed her, and laved the snake's slime from her limbs
    With water of the pool, comforting her
    And giving food; and afterwards (my King!)
    Inquiry made: "What doest, in this wood,
    Thou with the fawn's eyes? And how earnest thou,
    My mistress, to such pit of misery?"
      And Damayanti, spoken fair by him,
    Recounted all which had befallen her.
      But, gazing on her graces, scantly clad
    With half a cloth, those smooth, full sides, those breasts
    Beauteously swelling, form of faultless mould,
    Sweet youthful face, fair as the moon at full,
    And dark orbs, by long curving lashes swept;
    Hearing her tender sighs and honeyed speech,
    The hunter fell to hot desire; he dared
    Essay to woo, with whispered words at first,
    And next by amorous approach, the Queen;
    Who, presently perceiving what he would,
    And all that baseness of him--being so pure,
    So chaste, and faithful--like a blazing torch
    Took fire of scorn and anger 'gainst the man,
    Her true soul burning at him, till the wretch,
    Wicked in heart, but impotent of will,
    Glared on her, splendidly invincible
    In weakness, loftily defying wrong,
    A living flame of lighted chastity.
    She then--albeit so desolate, so lone,
    Abandoned by her lord, stripped of her state--
    Like a proud princess stormed, flinging away
    All terms of supplication, cursing him
    With wrath which scorched: "If I am clean in heart
    And true in thought unto Nishadha's King,
    Then mayest thou, vile pursuer of the beasts,
    Sink to the earth, stone dead!"
                                    While she did speak,
    The hunter breathless fell to earth, stone dead,
    As falls a tree-trunk blasted by the bolt.
      That ravisher destroyed, the lotus-eyed
    Fared forward, threading still the fearful wood,
    Lonely and dim, with trill of jhillikas[22]
    Resounding, and fierce noise of many beasts
    Laired in its shade, lions and leopards, deer,
    Close-hiding tigers, sullen bisons, wolves,
    And shaggy bears. Also the glades of it
    Were filled with fowl which crept, or flew, and cried.
    A home for savage men and murderers,
    Thick with a world of trees, whereof was sal,
    Sharp-seeded, weeping gum; knotted bambus,
    Dhavas with twisted roots; smooth aswatthas,
    Large-leaved, and creeping through the cloven rocks;
    Tindukas, iron-fibred, dark of grain;
    Ingudas, yielding oil; and kinsukas,
    With scarlet flowerets flaming. Thronging these
    Were arjuns and arishta-clumps, which bear
    The scented purple clusters; syandans,
    And tall silk-cotton trees, and mango-belts
    With silvery spears; and wild rose-apple, blent
    'Mid lodhra-tufts and khadirs, interknit
    By clinging rattans, climbing everywhere
    From stem to stem. Therewith were intermixed--
    Round pools where rocked the lotus--âmalaks,
    Plakshas with fluted leaves, kadambas sweet,
    Udumbaras; and, on the jungle-edge,
    Tangles of reed and jujube, whence there rose
    Bel-trees and nyagrodhas, dropping roots
    Down from the air; broad-leaved priyâlas, palms
    And date-trees, and the gold myrobalan,
    With copper-leaved vibhîtikas. All these
    Crowded the wood; and many a crag it held,
    With precious ore of metals interveined;
    And many a creeper-covered cave wherein
    The spoken word rolled round; and many a cleft
    Where the thick stems were like a wall to see;
    And many a winding stream and reedy jheel,
    And glassy lakelet, where the woodland beasts
    In free peace gathered.
                            Wandering onward thus,
    The Princess saw far-gliding forms of dread--
    Pisâchas, Rakshasas, ill sprites and fiends
    Which haunt, with swinging snakes, the undergrowth.
    Dark pools she saw, and drinking-holes, and peaks
    Wherefrom break down in tumbling cataracts
    The wild white waters, marvellous to hear.
    Also she passed--this daughter of a king--
    Where snorted the fierce buffaloes, and where
    The gray boars rooted for their food, and where
    The black bears growled, and serpents in the grass
    Rustled and hissed. But all along that way
    Safe paced she in her majesty of grace,
    High fortune, courage, constancy, and right--
    Vidarbha's glory--seeking, all alone,
    Lost Nala; and less terror at these sights
    Came to sad Damayanti for herself--
    Threading this dreadful forest--than for him.
    Most was her mind on Nala's fate intent.
    Bitterly grieving stood the sweet Princess
    Upon a rock, her tender limbs a-thrill
    With heavy fears for Nala while she spake:--
      "Broad-chested Chief! my long-armed Lord of men!
    Nishadha's King! Ah! whither art thou gone.
    Leaving me thus in the unpeopled wood?
    The Aśwamedha sacrifice thou mad'st,
    And all the rites and royal gifts hast given,
    A lion-hearted Prince, holy and true
    To all save me! That which thou didst declare,
    Hand in hand with me--once so fond and kind--
    Recall it now--thy sacred word, thy vow,
    Whithersoever, Raja, thou art fled.
    Think how the message of the gold-winged swans
    Was spoken, by thine own lips, then to me!
    True men keep faith; this is the teaching taught
    In Vedas, Angas, and Upangas all,
    Hear which we may; wilt thou not, therefore, Prince--
    Wilt thou not, terror of thy foes, keep faith,
    Making thy promise good to cleave to me?
    Ha, Nala, Lord! Am I not surely still
    Thy chosen, thy beloved? Answerest not
    Thy wife in this dark, horror-haunted shade?
    The tyrant of the jungle, fierce and fell,
    With jaws agape to take me, crouches nigh,
    And thou not here to rescue me--not thou,
    Who saidst none other in the world was dear
    But Damayanti! Prove the fond speech true,
    Uttered so often! Why repliest not
    To me, thy well-beloved; me, distraught,
    Longed for and longing; me, my Prince and pride,
    That am so weary, weak, and miserable,
    Stained with the mire, in this torn cloth half clad,
    Alone and weeping, seeing no help near?
    Ah, stag of all the herd! leav'st thou thy hind
    Astray, regarding not these tears which roll?
    My Nala, Maharaja! It is I
    Who cry, thy Damayanti, true and pure,
    Lost in the wood, and still thou answerest not!
    High-born, high-hearted, full of grace and strength
    In all thy limbs, shall I not find thee soon
    On yonder hill? Shall I not see, at last,
    In some track of this grim, beast-peopled wood,
    Standing, or seated, or upon the leaves
    Lying, or coming, him who is of men
    The glory, but for me the grief-maker?
    If not, whom shall I question, woe-begone,
    Saying, 'In any region of this wood
    Hast thou, perchance, seen Nala?' Is there none,
    In all the forest, would reply to me
    With tidings of my lord, wandered away,
    Kingly in mind and form, of hosts of foes
    The conqueror? Who will say, with blessed voice,
    'That Raja with the lotus-eyes is near,
    Whom thou dost seek'?--Nay, here comes one to ask,
    The yellow forest-king, his great jaws armed
    With fourfold fangs. A tiger standeth now
    Face to face on my path; I'll speak with him
    Fearlessly: 'Dreadful chief of all this waste,
    Thou art the sovereign of the beasts, and I
    Am daughter of Vidarbha's King; my name,
    The Princess Damayanti; know thou me,
    Wife of Nishadha's Lord--of Nala--styled
    "Subduer of his Foes"? Him seek I here--
    Abandoned, sorrow-stricken, miserable.
    Comfort me, mighty beast, if so thou canst,
    Saying thou hast seen Nala; but if this
    Thou canst not do, then, ah, thou savage lord,
    Terrible friend, devour me, setting me
    Free from all woes!' The tiger answereth not;
    He turns, and quits me in my tears, to stalk
    Down where the river glitters through the reeds,
    Seeking its seaward way. Then will I pray
    Unto yon sacred mount of clustered crags,
    Broad-shouldered, shining, lifting high to heaven
    Its diverse-colored peaks, where the mind climbs
    Its hid heart rich with silver veins, and gold,
    And stored with many a precious gem unseen.
    Clear towers it o'er the forest, broad and bright
    Like a green banner; and the sides of it
    House many a living thing--lions and boars,
    Tigers and elephants, and bears and deer.
    Softly around me from its feathered flocks
    The songs ring, perched upon the kinsuk trees,
    The asokas, vakuls, and punnâga boughs,
    Or hidden in the karnikara leaves,
    And tendrils of the dhava or the fig;
    Full of great glens it soars, where waters leap
    And bright birds lave. This king of hills I sue
    For tidings of my lord. O Mountain Lord,
    Far-seen and celebrated hill! that cleav'st
    The blue of the sky, refuge of living things,
    Most noble eminence, I worship thee;
    Thee I salute, who am a monarch's child,
    The daughter and the consort of a prince,
    The high-born Damayanti, unto whom
    Bhima, Vidarbha's chief--that puissant lord--
    Was sire, renowned o'er earth. Protector he
    Of the four castes, performer of the rites
    Called Rajasuya and the Aśwamedha--
    A bounteous giver, first of rulers, known
    For his large shining eyes; holy and just,
    Fast to his word, unenvious, sweet of speech,
    Gentle and valiant, dutiful and pure;
    The guardian of Vidarbha, of his foes
    The slayer. Know me, O Majestic Mount!
    For that King's daughter, bending low to thee.
    In Nishadha lived the father of my lord,
    The Maharaja Virasena named,
    Wealthy and great; whose son, of regal blood,
    High-fortuned, powerful, and noble-souled,
    Ruleth by right the realm paternal: he
    Is Nala, terror of all enemies;
    Dark Nala, praised-in-song; Nala the just,
    The pure; deep-seen in scriptures, sweet of speech,
    Drinker of Soma-juice, and worshipper
    Of Agni; sacrificing, giving gifts;
    First in the wars, a perfect, princely lord.
    His wife am I, Great Mountain! and come here
    Fortuneless, husbandless, and spiritless,
    Everywhere seeking him, my best of men.
    O Mount, whose doubled ridge stamps on the sky
    Yon line, by fivescore splendid pinnacles
    Indented! tell me, in this gloomy wood
    Hast thou seen Nala? Nala, wise and bold,
    Like a tusked elephant for might; long armed,
    Indomitable, gallant, glorious, true;
    Nala, Nishadha's chief--hast thou seen him?
    O Mountain, why consolest thou me not,
    Answering one word to sorrowful, distressed,
    Lonely, lost Damayanti?"
                            Then she cried:--
    "But answer for thyself, Hero and Lord!
    If thou art in the forest, show thyself!
    Alas! when shall I hear that voice, as low,
    As tender as the murmur of the rain
    When great clouds gather; sweet as Amrit-drink?
    Thy voice, once more, my Nala, calling to me
    Full softly, 'Damayanti!'--dearest Prince,
    That would be music soothing to these ears
    As sound of sacred Veda; that would stay
    My pains and comfort me, and bring me peace."
      Thereafter, turning from the mount, she went
    Northwards, and journeying on three nights and days
    Came to a green incomparable grove
    By holy men inhabited; a haunt
    Placid as Paradise, whose indwellers
    Like to Vaśistha, Bhrigu, Atri, were--
    Those ancient saints. Restraining sense they lived,
    Heedful in meats, subduing passion, pure,
    Breathing within; their food water and herbs;
    Ascetics; very holy; seeking still
    The heavenward road; clad in the bark of trees
    And skins--all gauds of earth being put by.
    This hermitage, peopled by gentle ones,
    Glad Damayanti spied, circled with herds
    Of wild things grazing fearless, and with troops
    Of monkey-folk o'erheard; and when she saw,
    Her heart was lightened, for its quietness.
    So drew she nigh--that lovely wanderer--
    Bright-browed, long-tressed, large-hipped, full-bosomed, fair,
    With pearly teeth and honeyed mouth, in gait
    Right queenly still, having those long black eyes--
    The wife of Virasena's son, the gem
    Of all dear women, glory of her time;
    Sad Damayanti entered their abode,
    Those holy men saluting reverently,
    With modest body bowed. Thus stood she there
    And all the saints spake gently, "_Swâgatam_--
    Welcome!" and gave the greetings which are meet;
    And afterwards, "Repose thyself," they said;
    "What wouldst thou have of us?" Then, with soft words
    The slender-waisted spake: "Of all these here,
    So worshipful in sacrifice and rite--
    'Mid gentle beasts and birds--in tasks and toils
    And blameless duties--is it well?" And they
    Answered: "We thank you, noble lady, well.
    Tell us, most beauteous one, thy name, and say
    What thou desirest. Seeing thee so fair,
    So worthy, yet so sorrowful, our minds
    Are lost in wonder. Weep not. Comfort take.
    Art thou the goddess of the wood? Art thou
    The Mountain-Yakshi, or, belike, some sprite
    Which lives under the river? Tell us true,
    Gentle and faultless form!"
                                 Whereat reply
    Thus made she to the Rishis: "None of these
    Am I, good saints. No goddess of the wood,
    Nor yet a mountain nor a river sprite;
    A woman ye behold, most only ones,
    Whose moving story I will tell you true.
    The Raja of Vidarbha is my sire,
    Bhima his name, and--Best of Twice-born!--know
    My husband is Nishadha's Chief, the famed,
    The wise and valiant and victorious Prince,
    The high and lordly Nala; of the gods
    A steadfast worshipper; of Bráhmanas
    The friend; his people's shield; honored and strong,
    Truth-speaking, skilled in arms, sagacious, just;
    Terrible to his foes, fortunate, lord
    Of many conquered towns; a godlike man,
    Princeliest of princes--Nala--one that hath
    A countenance like the full moon's for light,
    And eyes of lotus. This true offerer
    Of sacrifices, this close votary
    Of Vedas and Vedângas, in the war
    Deadly to enemies, like sun and moon
    For splendor--by some certain evil ones
    Being defied to dice, my virtuous Prince
    Was, by their wicked acts, of realm despoiled--
    Wealth, jewels, all. I am his woful wife,
    The Princess Damayanti. Seeking him
    Through thickets have I roamed, over rough hills,
    By crag and river and the reedy lake,
    By marsh and waterfall and jungle-bush,
    In quest of him--my lord, my warrior,
    My hero--and still roam, uncomforted.
    Worshipful brethren! say if he hath come--
    Nishadha's Chief, my Nala, hitherward
    Unto your pleasant homes--he, for whose sake
    I wander in the dismal pathless wood
    With bears and tigers haunted--terrible!
    Ah! if I find him not, ere there be passed
    Many more nights and days, peace will I win;
    For death shall set my mournful spirit free.
    What cause have I to live, lacking my Prince?
    Why should I longer breathe, whose heart is dead
    With sorrow for my lord?"
                               To Bhima's child,
    So in the wood bewailing, made reply
    Those holy, truthful men: "Beautiful One!
    The future is for thee; fair will it fall!
    Our eyes, by long devotions opened, see--
    Even now--thy lord; thou shalt behold him soon,
    Nishadha's chief, the famous Nala, strong
    In battle, loving justice. Yea, this Prince
    Thou wilt regain, Bhima's sad daughter! freed
    From troubles, purged of sin; and witness him--
    With all his gems and glories--governing
    Nishadha once again, invincible,
    Joy of his friends and terror of his foes.
    Yea, Noblest, thou shalt have thy love anew
    In days to come."
                      So speaking, from the sight
    Of Damayanti, at that instant, passed
    Hermits, with hermitage and holy fires,
    Evanishing. In wonderment she stood,
    Gazing bewildered. Then the Princess cried:--
    "Was it in dream I saw them? Whence befell
    This unto me? Where are the brethren gone,
    The ring of huts, the pleasant stream that ran
    With birds upon its crystal banks, the grove
    Delightful, with its fruits and flowers?" Long while
    Pondered and wondered Damayanti there,
    Her bright smile fled, pale, strengthless, sorrowful;
    Then to another region of the wood,
    With sighs, and eyes welling great tears, she passed,
    Lamenting; till a beauteous tree she spied--
    The Asoka, best of trees. Fair rose it there
    Beside the forest, glowing with the flame
    Of golden and crimson blossoms, and its boughs
    Full of sweet-singing birds.
    She cried: "Ah, lovely tree, that wavest here
    Thy crown of countless, shining, clustering blooms
    As thou wert woodland king--Asoka tree,
    Tree called 'the sorrow-ender,' heart's-ease tree!
    Be what thy name saith--end my sorrow now,
    Saying, ah, bright Asoka! thou hast seen
    My Prince, my dauntless Nala; seen that lord
    Whom Damayanti loves and his foes fear;
    Seen great Nishadha's Chief, so dear to me,
    His tender princely skin in rended cloth
    Scantily clad. Hath he passed wandering
    Under thy branches, grievously forlorn?
    Answer, Asoka! 'Sorrow-ender,' speak!
    That I go sorrowless, O heart's-ease, be
    Truly heart-easing--ease my heart of pain."
      Thus, wild with grief, she spake unto the tree,
    Round and round walking, as to reverence it;
    And then, unanswered, the sweet lady sped
    Through wastes more dreadful, passing many a
    Many still-gliding rillets, many a peak
    Tree-clad, with beasts and birds of wondrous kind,
    In dark ravines, and caves, and lonely glooms.
    These things saw Damayanti, Bhima's child,
    Seeking her lord.
                      At last, on the long road,
    She, whose soft smile was once so beautiful,
    A caravan encountered. Merchantmen
    With trampling horses, elephants, and wains,
    Made passage of a river, running slow
    In cool, clear waves. The quiet waters gleamed,
    Shining and wide outspread, between the canes
    Which bordered it, wherefrom echoed the cries
    Of fish-hawks, curlews, and red chakravâks,
    With sounds of leaping fish and water-snakes,
    And tortoises, amid its shoals and flats
    Sporting or feeding.
                         When she spied that throng--
    Heart-maddened with her anguish, weak and wan,
    Half clad, bloodless and thin, her long black locks
    Matted with dust--breathlessly breaks she in
    Upon them--Nala's wife--so beauteous once,
    So honored. Seeing her, some fled in fear;
    Some gazed, speechless with wonder; some called out,
    Mocking the piteous face by words of scorn;
    But some (my King!) had pity of her woe,
    And spake her fair, inquiring: "Who art thou?
    And whence? And in this grove what seekest thou,
    To come so wild? Thy mien astonisheth.
    Art of our kind, or art thou something strange,
    The spirit of the forest, or the hill,
    Or river valley? Tell us true; then we
    Will buy thy favor. If, indeed, thou art
    Yakshini, Rakshasi, or she-creature
    Haunting this region, be propitious! Send
    Our caravan in safety on its path,
    That we may quickly, by thy fortune, go
    Homeward, and all fair chances fall to us."
      Hereby accosted, softly gave response
    That royal lady--weary for her lord--
    Answering the leader of the caravan,
    And those that gathered round, a marvelling throng
    Of men and boys and elders: "Oh, believe
    I am as you, of mortal birth, but born
    A Raja's child, and made a Raja's wife.
    Him seek I, Chieftain of Nishadha, named
    Prince Nala--famous, glorious, first in war.
    If ye know aught of him, my king, my joy,
    My tiger of the jungle, my lost lord,
    Quick, tell me, comfort me!"
                               Then one who led
    Their line--the merchant Śuchi--answering,
    Spake to the peerless Princess: "Hear me now.
    I am the captain of this caravan,
    But nowhere any named by Nala's name
    Have I, or these, beheld. Of evil beasts
    The woods were full--cheetahs and bears and cats,
    Tigers and elephants, bison and boar;
    Those saw we in the brake on every side,
    But nowhere nought of human shape, save thee.
    May Manibhadra have us in his grace--
    The Lord of Yakshas--as I tell thee truth!"
      Then sadly spake she to the trader-chief
    And to his band: "Whither wend ye, I pray?
    Please ye, acquaint me where this Sârthâ[23] goes."
      Replied the captain: "Unto Chedi's realm,
    Where rules the just Subâhu, journey we,
    To sell our merchandise, daughter of men!"
      Thus by the chieftain of the band informed,
    The peerless Princess journeyed with them, still
    Seeking her lord. And at the first the way
    Fared through another forest, dark and deep;
    Afterwards came the traders to a pool
    Broad, everywhere delightful, odorous
    With cups of opened lotus, and its shores
    Green with rich grass, and edged with garden trees--
    A place of flowers and fruits and singing birds.
    So cool and clear and peacefully it gleamed,
    That men and cattle, weary with the march,
    Clamored to pitch; and, on their chieftain's sign,
    The pleasant hollow entered they, and camped--
    All the long caravan--at sunset's hour.
      There, in the quiet of the middle night,
    Deep slumbered these; when, sudden on them fell
    A herd of elephants, thirsting to drink,
    In rut, the mada[24] oozing from their heads.
    And when those great beasts spied the caravan,
    And smelled the tame cows of their kind, they rushed
    Headlong, and, mad with must, overwhelming all,
    With onset vast and irresistible.
    As when from some tall peak into the plain
    Thunder and smoke and crash the rolling rocks,
    Through splintered stems and thorns breaking their path,
    So swept the herd to where, beside the pool,
    Those sleepers lay; and trampled them to earth
    Half-risen, helpless, shrieking in the dark,
    "Haha! the elephants!" Of those unslain,
    Some in the thickets sought a shelter; some,
    Yet dazed with sleep, stood panic-stricken, mute;
    Till here with tusks, and there with trunks, the beasts
    Gored them, and battered them, and trod them flat
    Under their monstrous feet. Then might be seen
    Camels with camel-drivers, perishing,
    And men flying in fear, who struck at men--
    Terror and death and clamor everywhere:
    While some, despairing, cast themselves to earth;
    And some, in fleeing, fell and died; and some
    Climbed to the tree-tops. Thus on every side
    Scattered and ruined was that caravan--
    Cattle and merchants--by the herd assailed.
    So hideous was the tumult,-all three worlds
    Seemed filled with fright; and one was heard to cry:--
    "The fire is in the tents! fly for your lives!
    Stay not!" And others cried: "Look where we leave
    Our treasures trodden down; gather them! Halt!
    Why run ye, losing ours and yours? Nay, stay!
    Stand ye, and we will stand!" And then to these
    One voice cried, "Stand!" another, "Fly! we die!"
    Answered by those again who shouted, "Stand!
    Think what we lose, O cowards!"
                                    While this rout
    Raged, amid dying groans and sounds of fear,
    The Princess, waking startled, terror-struck,
    Saw such a sight as might the boldest daunt--
    Such scene as those great lovely lotus-eyes
    Ne'er gazed upon before. Sick with new dread--
    Her breath suspended 'twixt her lips--she rose
    And heard, of those surviving, some one moan
    Amidst his fellows: "From whose evil act
    Is this the fruit? Hath worship not been paid
    To mighty Manibhadra? Gave we not
    The reverence due to Vaishravan, that King
    Of all the Yakshas? Was not offering made
    At outset to the spirits which impede?
    Is this the evil portent of the birds?
    Were the stars adverse? or what else hath fall'n?"
      And others said, wailing for friends and goods:--
    "Who was that woman, with mad eyes, that came
    Into our camp, ill-favored, hardly cast
    In mortal mould? By her, be sure, was wrought
    This direful sorcery. Demon or witch,
    Yakshî or Rakshasî, or gliding ghost,
    Or something frightful, was she. Hers this deed
    Of midnight murders; doubt there can be none.
    Ah, if we could espy that hateful one,
    The ruin of our march, the woe-maker,
    With stones, clods, canes, or clubs, nay, with clenched fists,
    We'd strike her dead, the murderess of our band!"
      Trembling the Princess heard those angry words;
    And--saddened, maddened, shamed--breathless she fled
    Into the thicket, doubtful if such sin
    Might not be hers, and with fresh dread distressed.
    "Aho!" she weeps, "pitiless grows the wrath
    Of Fate against me. Not one gleam of good
    Arriveth. Of what fault is this the fruit?
    I cannot call to mind a wrong I wrought
    To any--even a little thing--in act
    Or thought or word; whence then hath come this curse?
    Belike from ill deeds done in by-gone lives
    It hath befall'n, and what I suffer now
    Is payment of old evils undischarged.
    Grievous the doom--my palace lost, my lord,
    My children, kindred; I am torn away
    From home and love and all, to roam accurst
    In this plague-haunted waste!"
                                   When broke the day,
    Those which escaped alive, with grievous cries
    Departed, mourning for their fellows slain.
    Each one a kinsman or a friend laments--
    Father or brother, son, or comrade dear.
      And Damayanti, hearing, weeps anew,
    Saying: "What dreadful sin was that I wrought
    Long, long ago, which, when I chance to meet
    These wayfarers in the unpeopled wood,
    Dooms them to perish by the elephants,
    In my dark destiny enwrapped? No doubt
    More and more sorrow I shall bear, or bring,
    For none dies ere his time; this is the lore
    Of ancient sages; this is why--being glad
    If I could die--I was not trampled down
    Under the elephants. There haps to man
    Nothing unless by destiny. Why else,
    Seeing that never have I wrought one wrong,
    From childhood's hours, in thought or word or deed,
    Hath this woe chanced? May be--meseems it may!--
    The mighty gods, at my Swayamvara
    Slighted by me for Nala's dearest sake,
    Are wroth, and by their dread displeasure thus
    To loss and loneliness I am consigned!"
      So--woe-begone and wild--this noble wife,
    Deserted Damayanti, poured her griefs:
    And afterwards, with certain Bráhmanas
    Saved from the rout--good men who knew the Veds--
    Sadly her road she finished, like the moon
    That goeth clouded in the month of rain.
    Thus travelling long, the Princess drew at last
    Nigh to a city, at the evening hour.
    The dwelling-place it was of Chedi's Chief,
    The just Subâhu. Through its lofty gates
    Painfully passed she, clad in half a cloth;
    And as she entered--sorrow-stricken, wan,
    Foot-weary, stained with mire, with unsmoothed hair,
    Unbathed, and eyes of madness--those who saw,
    Wondered and stared, and watched her as she toiled
    Down the long city street. The children break
    From play, and--boys with girls--followed her steps,
    So that she came--a crowd encompassing--
    Unto the King's door. On the palace roof
    The mother of the Maharaja paced,
    And marked the throng, and that sad wayfarer.
    Then to her nurse spake the queen-mother this:--
    "Go thou, and bring yon woman unto me!
    The people trouble her; mournful she walks,
    Seeming unfriended, yet bears she a mien
    Made for a king's abode, and, all so wild,
    Still are her wistful eyes like the great eyes
    Of Lakshmi's self." So downwards went the nurse,
    Bidding the rude folk back; and to the roof
    Of the great palace led that wandering one--
    Desolate Damayanti--whom the Queen
    Courteous besought: "Though thou art wan of face,
    Thou wear'st a noble air, which through thy griefs
    Shineth as lightning doth behind its cloud.
    Tell me thy name, and whose thou art, and whence.
    No lowborn form is thine, albeit thou com'st
    Wearing no ornaments; and all alone
    Wanderest--not fearing men--by some spell safe."
      Hearing which words, the child of Bhima spake
    Gratefully this: "A woful woman I,
    And woful wife, but faithful to my vows;
    High-born, but like a servant, like a slave,
    Lodging where it may hap, and finding food
    From the wild roots and fruits wherever night
    Brings me my resting-place. Yet is my lord
    A prince noble and great, with countless gifts
    Endued; and him I followed faithfully
    As 't were his shadow, till hard fate decreed
    That he should fall into the rage of dice:--
    And, worsted in that play, into the wood
    He fled, clad in one cloth, frenzied and lone.
    And I his steps attended in the wood,
    Comforting him, my husband. But it chanced,
    Hungry and desperate, he lost his cloth;
    And I--one garment bearing--followed still
    My unclad lord, despairing, reasonless,
    Through many a weary night not slumbering.
    But when, at length, a little while I slept,
    My Prince abandoned me, rending away
    Half of my garment, leaving there his wife,
    Who never wrought him wrong. That lord I seek
    By day and night, with heart and soul on fire--
    Seek, but still find not; though he is to me
    Brighter than light which gleams from lotus-cups,
    Divine as are the immortals, dear as breath,
    The master of my life, my pride, my joy!"
      Whom, grieving so, her sweet eyes blind with tears,
    Gently addressed Subâhu's mother--sad
    To hear as she to tell. "Stay with us here,
    Thou ill-starred lady. Great the friendliness
    I have for thee. The people of our court
    Shall thy lost husband seek; or, it may be,
    He too will wander hither of himself
    By devious paths: yea, mournful one, thy lord
    Thou wilt regain, abiding with us here."
      And Damayanti, bowing, answered thus
    Unto the Queen: "I will abide with thee,
    O mother of illustrious sons, if so
    They feed me not on orts, nor seek from me
    To wash the feet of comers, nor that I
    Be set to speak with any stranger-men
    Before the curtain; and, if any man
    Sue me, that he be punished; and if twice,
    Then that he die, guilty of infamy.
    This is my earnest prayer; but Bráhmanas
    Who seek my husband, or bear news of him,
    Such will I speak with. If it may be thus,
    Gladly would I abide, great lady, here;
    If otherwise, it is not on my mind
    To sojourn longer."
                            Very tenderly
    Quoth the queen-mother: "All that thou dost ask
    We will ordain. The gods reward thy love,
    Which hath such honor!" Comforting her so,
    To the king's daughter, young Sunandâ, spake
    The Maharajni: "See, Sunandâ, here
    Clad as a handmaid, but in form divine,
    One of thy years, gentle and true. Be friends;
    Take and give pleasure in glad company
    Each with the other, keeping happy hearts."
      So went Sunandâ joyous to her house,
    Leading with loving hand the Princess in,
    The maidens of the court accompanying.

Part II.

    Not long (O Maharaja!) was Nala fled
    From Damayanti, when, in midmost gloom
    Of the thick wood a flaming fire he spied,
    And from the fire's heart heard proceed a voice
    Of one imperilled, crying many times:--
    "Haste hither, Punyashloka, Nala, haste!"
    "Fear not," the Prince replied; "I come!" and sprang
    Across the burning bushes, where he saw
    A snake--a king of serpents--lying curled
    In a great ring, which reared its dancing crest
    Saluting, and in human accents spoke:--
    "Maharaja, kindly lord, I am the snake
    Karkôtaka; by me was once betrayed
    The famous Rishi Narada; his wrath
    Doomed me, thou Chief of men! to bear this spell--
    'Coil thy false folds,' said he, 'forever here,
    A serpent, motionless upon this spot,
    Till it shall chance that Nala passeth by
    And bears thee hence; then only from my curse
    Canst thou be freed,' And prisoned by that curse
    I have no power to stir, though the wood burns;
    Nay, not a coil! good fellowship I'll show
    If thou wilt succor me. I'll be to thee
    A faithful friend, as no snake ever yet.
    Lift me, and quickly from the flames bear forth:
    For thee I shall grow light." Thereat shrank up
    That monstrous reptile to a finger's length;
    And grasping this, unto a place secure
    From burning, Nala bore it, where the air
    Breathed freshly, and the fire's black path was stayed.
      Then made the Prince to lay the serpent down,
    But yet again it speaks: "Nishadha's Lord,
    Grasp me and slowly go, counting thy steps;
    For, Raja, thou shalt have good fortune hence."
    So Nala slowly went, counting his steps;
    And when the tenth pace came, the serpent turned
    And bit the Prince. No sooner pierced that tooth
    Than all the likeness of Nishadha changed;
    And, wonder-struck, he gazed upon himself;
    While from the dust he saw the snake arise
    A man, and, speaking as Karkôtaka,
    Comfort him thus:--
                        "Thou art by me transformed
    That no man know thee: and that evil one
    (Possessing, and undoing thee, with grief)
    Shall so within thee by my venom smart,
    Shall through thy blood so ache, that--till he quit--
    He shall endure the woe he did impart.
    Thus by my potent spell, most noble Prince!
    (Who sufferest too long) thou wilt be freed
    From him that haunts thee. Fear no more the wood,
    Thou tiger of all princes! fear thou not
    Horned nor fanged beasts, nor any enemies,
    Though they be Bráhmans! safe thou goest now,
    Guarded from grief and hurt--Chieftain of men!
    By this kind poison. In the fields of war
    Henceforth the victory always falls to thee;
    Go joyous, therefore, Prince; give thyself forth
    For 'Vahûka, the charioteer:' repair
    To Rituparna's city, who is skilled
    In play, and dwells in fair Ayodhyâ.
    Wend thou, Nishadha! thither; he will teach
    Great subtlety in numbers unto thee,
    Exchanging this for thine own matchless gift
    Of taming horses. From the lordly line
    Descended of Ikshvaku, glad and kind
    The King will be; and thou, learning of him
    His deepest act of dice, wilt win back all,
    And clasp again thy Princess. Therefore waste
    No thought on woes. I tell thee truth! thy realm
    Thou shalt regain; and when the time is come
    That thou hast need to put thine own form on,
    Call me to mind, O Prince, and tie this cloth
    Around thy body. Wearing it, thy shape
    Thou shalt resume."
                       Therewith the serpent gave
    A magic twofold robe, not wove on earth,
    Which (O thou son of Kuru!) Nala took;
    And so the snake, transformed, vanished away.
      The great snake being gone, Nishadha's Chief
    Set forth, and on the tenth day entered in
    At Rituparna's town; there he besought
    The presence of the Raja, and spake thus:--
    "I am the chariot-driver, Vahûka.
    There is not on this earth another man
    Hath gifts like mine to tame and guide the steed;
    Moreover, thou mayest use me in nice needs
    And dangerous, where kings lack faithful hearts.
    Specially skilful I am in dressing meats;
    And whatso other duties may befall,
    Though they be weighty, I shall execute,
    If, Rituparna, thou wilt take me in."
      "I take thee," quoth the King. "Dwell here with me.
    Such service as thou knowest, render us.
    'Tis, Vahûka, forever in my heart
    To have my steeds the swiftest; be thy task
    To train me horses like the wind for speed;
    My charioteer I make thee, and thy wage
    Ten thousand gold suvernas. Thou wilt have
    For fellows, Varshneya and Jivala;
    With those abiding, lodge thou happy here."
      So entertained and honored of the King,
    In Rituparna's city Nala dwelled,
    Lodging with Varshneya and Jivala.
      There sojourned he (my Raja!), thinking still
    Of sweet Vidarbha's Princess day by day;
    And sunset after sunset one sad strain
    He sang: "Where resteth she that roamed the wood
    Hungry and parched and worn, but always true?
    Doth she remember yet her faultful lord?
    Ah, who is near her now?" So it befell
    Jivala heard him ever sighing thus,
    And questioned: "Who is she thou dost lament?
    Say, Vahûka! fain would I know her name.
    Long life be thine; but tell me who he is,
    The faultful man that was the lady's lord."
      And Nala answered him: "There lives a man,
    Evil and rash, that had a noble wife.
    False to his word he was; and thus it fell
    That somewhere, for some reason (ask not me!),
    He quitted her, this rash one. And--so wrenched
    Apart from hers--his spirit, bad and sad,
    Muses and moans, with grief's slow fire consumed
    Night-time and day-time. Thence it is he sings
    At every sunset this unchanging verse,
    An outcast on the earth, by hazard led
    Hither and thither. Such a man thou seest
    Woful, unworthy, holding in his heart
    Always that sin. I was that lady's lord,
    Whom she did follow through the dreadful wood,
    Living by me abandoned, at this hour;
    If yet, in truth, she lives--youthful, alone,
    Unpractised in the ways, not meriting
    Fortunes so hard. Ah, if indeed she lives,
    Who roamed the thick and boundless forest, full
    Of prowling beasts--roamed it, my Jivala,
    Unguarded by her guilty lord--forsook,
    Betrayed, good friend!"
                           Thus did Nishadha grieve,
    Calling sweet Damayanti to his mind.
    So tarried he within the Raja's house,
    And no man knew his place of sojourning.
      While, stripped of state, the Prince and Princess thus
    Were sunk to servitude, Bhima made quest,
    Sending his Bráhmans forth to search for them
    With straight commands, and for their road-money
    Liberal store. "Seek everywhere," said he
    Unto the twice-born, "Nala--everywhere
    My daughter Damayanti. Whoso comes
    Successful in this quest, discovering her--
    With lost Nishadha's Lord--and bringing them,
    A thousand cows to that man will I give,
    And village-lands whence shall be revenue
    As great as from a city. If so be
    Ye cannot bring me Nala and my child,
    To him that learns their refuge I will give
    The thousand cows."
                       Thereby rejoiced, they went,
    Those Bráhmans, hither and thither, up and down,
    Into all regions, rajaships, and towns,
    Seeking Nishadha's Chieftain, and his wife.
    But Nala nowhere found they; nowhere found
    Sweet Damayanti, Bhima's beauteous child--
      Until, straying to pleasant Chedipur,
    One day a twice-born came, Sudêva named,
    And entered it; and, spying round about
    (Upon a feast-day by the King proclaimed),
    He saw forth-passing through the palace gate
    A woman--Bhima's daughter--side by side
    With young Sunandâ. Little praise had now
    That beauty which in old days shone so bright;
    Marred with much grief it was, like sunlight dimmed
    By fold on fold of wreathed and creeping mists.
    But when Sudêva marked the great dark eyes--
    Lustreless though they were, and she so worn,
    So listless--"Lo, the Princess!" whispered he;--
    "'Tis the King's daughter," quoth he to himself;
    And thus mused on:--
                        "Yea! as I used to see,
    'Tis she! no other woman hath such grace!
    My task is done; I gaze on that one form,
    Which is like Lakshmi's, whom all worlds adore.
    I see the bosoms, rounded, dark, and smooth,
    As they were sister-moons; the soft moon-face
    Which with its queenly light makes all things bright
    Where it doth gleam; the large deep lotus-eyes,
    That, like to Rati's own, the Queen of Love,
    Beam, each a lovelit star, filling the worlds
    With longing. Ah, fair lotus-flower, plucked up
    By Fate's hard grasp from far Vidarbha's pool,
    How is thy cup muddied and slimed to-day!
    Ah, moon, how is thy night like to the eclipse
    When Rahu swallows up the silver round!
    Ah, tearless eyes, reddened with weeping him,
    How are ye like to gentle streams run dry!
    Ah, lake of lilies, where grief's elephant
    Hath swung his trunk, and turned the crystal black,
    And scattered all the blue and crimson cups,
    And frightened off the birds! Ah, lily-cup,
    Tender, and delicately leaved, and reared
    To blossom in a palace built of gems,
    How dost thou wither here, wrenched by the root,
    Sun-scorched and faded! Noblest, loveliest, best!--
    Who bear'st no gems, yet so becomest them--
    How like the new moon's silver horn thou art,
    When envious black clouds blot it! Lost for thee
    Are love, home, children, friends, and kinsmen; lost
    All joy of that fair body thou dost wear
    Only that it may last to find thy lord.
    Truly a woman's ornament is this:--
    The husband is her jewel; lacking him
    She hath none, though she shines with priceless pearls;
    Piteous must be her state! And, torn from her,
    Doth Nala cling to life; or, day by day,
    Waste with long yearning? Oh, as I behold
    Those black locks, and those eyes--dark and long-shaped
    As are the hundred-petalled lotus-leaves--
    And watch her joyless who deserves all joy,
    My heart is sore! When will she overpass
    The river of this sorrow, and come safe
    Unto its farther shore? When will she meet
    Her lord, as moon and moon-star in the sky
    Mingle? For, as I think, in winning her,
    Nala would win his happy days again,
    And--albeit banished now--have back his lands.
    Alike in years and graces, and alike
    In lordly race these were: no bride could seem
    Worthy Nishadha, if it were not she;
    Nor husband worthy of Vidarbha's Pride,
    Save it were Nala. It is meet I bring
    Comfort forthwith to yon despairing one,
    The consort of the just and noble Prince,
    For whom I see her heart-sick. I will go
    And speak good tidings to this moon-faced Queen,
    Who once knew nought of sorrows, but to-day
    Stands yonder, plunged heart-deep in woful thought."
      So, all those signs and marks considering
    Which stamped her Bhima's child, Sudêva drew
    Nearer, and said: "Vidarbhi, Nala's wife,
    I am the Bráhmana Sudêva, friend
    Unto my lord, thy brother, and I come
    By royal Bhima's mandate, seeking thee.
    That Maharaja, thy father, dwells in health;
    Thy mother and thy house are well; and well--
    With promise of long years--thy little ones,
    Sister and brother. Yet, for thy sake, Queen,
    Thy kindred sit as men with spirit gone;
    In search of thee a hundred twice-born rove
    Over all lands."
                     But (O King Yudhisthir!)
    Hardly one word she heard before she broke
    With question after question on the man,
    Asking of this dear friend and that and this;
    All mingled with quick tears, and tender sighs,
    And hungry gazing on her brother's friend,
    Sudêva--best of Bráhmanas--come there.
    Which soon Sunandâ marked, watching them speak
    Apart, and Damayanti all in tears.
    Then came she to her mother, saying: "See,
    The handmaid thou didst give me talks below
    With one who is a Bráhman, all her words
    Watered with weeping; if thou wilt, demand
    What this man knows."
                         Therewith swept forth amazed
    The mother of the Raja, and beheld
    How Nala's wife spake with the Bráhmana.
    Whom straight she bade them summon; and, being brought,
    In this wise questioned: "Knowest thou whose wife,
    Whose daughter, this one is; and how she left
    Her kin; and wherefore, being heavenly-eyed
    And noble-mannered, she hath wandered here?
    I am full fain to hear this; tell me all,
    No whit withholding; answer faithfully--
    Who is our slave-girl with the goddess gait?"
      The Bráhmana Sudêva, so addressed,
    Seating himself at ease, unto the Queen
    Told Damayanti's story, how all fell.
      Sudêva said: "There reigns in majesty
    King Bhima at Vidarbha; and of him
    The Princess Damayanti here is child;
    And Virasena's son, Nala, is Lord
    Over Nishadha, praised-in-song and wise;
    And of that Prince this lady is the wife.
    In play his brother worsted Nala--stripped
    Of lands and wealth the Prince; who fled his realm,
    Wandering with Damayanti--where, none knew.
    In quest of Damayanti we have roamed
    The earth's face o'er, until I found her here
    In thy son's house, the King's--the very same,
    Since like to her for grace no woman lives
    Of all fair women. Where her eyebrows meet
    A pretty mole, born with her, should be seen
    A little lotus-bud--not visible
    By reason of the dust of toil which clouds
    Her face and veils its moon-like beauty--that
    The wondrous Maker on the rare work stamped
    To be His Mark. But as the waxing moon
    Goes thin and darkling for awhile, then rounds
    The crescent's rims with splendors, so this Queen
    Hath lost not queenliness. Being now obscured,
    Soiled with the grime of chores, unbeautified,
    She shows true gold. The fire which trieth gold
    Denoteth less itself by instant heat
    Than Damayanti by her goodlihood.
    As first sight knew I her. She bears that mole."
      Whilst yet Sudêva spake (O King of men!),
    Sunandâ from the slave's front washed away
    The gathered dust, and forth that mark appeared
    'Twixt Damayanti's brows, as when clouds break,
    And in the sky the moon, the night-maker,
    Glitters to view. Seeing the spot awhile,
    Sunandâ and the mother of the King
    Gazed voiceless; then they clasped her neck and wept
    Rejoicing, till the Queen, staying her tears,
    Exclaimed: "My sister's daughter, dear! thou art,
    By this same mark. Thy mother and myself
    Were sisters by one father--he that rules
    Daśarna, King Sudâman. She was given
    To Bhima, and to Virabahu I.
    Once at Daśarna, in my father's house,
    I saw thee, newly born. Thy race and mine,
    Princess, are one: henceforward, therefore, here
    As I am, Damayanti, shalt thou be."
      With gladdened heart did Damayanti bend
    Before her mother's sister, answering thus:--
    "Peaceful and thankful dwelled I here with thee,
    Being unknown, my every need supplied,
    My life and honor by thy succor safe,
    Yet, Maharajni, even than this dear home
    One would be dearer: 'tis so many days
    Since we were parted. Suffer me to go
    Where those my tender little ones were led;
    So long--poor babes!--of me and of their sire
    Bereft. If, lady, thou dost think to show
    Kindness to me, this is my wish: to wend
    Unto Vidarbha swiftly; wilt thou bid
    They bear me thither?"
                           Was no sooner heard
    That fond desire, than the queen-mother gave
    Willing command; and soon an ample troop,
    The King consenting, gathered for her guard.
    So was she sent upon a palanquin,
    With soldiers, pole-bearers, and meat and drink,
    And garments as befitted--happier--home.
      Thus to Vidarbha came its Pride again,
    By no long road; and joyously her kin
    Brought the sweet Princess in, and welcomed her.
    In peace and safety all her house she found;
    Her children well;--father and mother, friends.
    The gods she worshipped, and to Bráhmanas
    Due reverence made, and whatso else was meet
    That Damayanti did, regal in all.
    To wise Sudêva fell the thousand cows
    By Bhima granted, with the village-lands,
    And goodly gifts beside.
                             But when there passed
    One night of rest within the palace-walls,
    The wistful Princess to her mother said:--
    "If thou wouldst have me live, I tell thee true,
    Dear mother, it must be by bringing back
    My Nala, my own lord; and only so."
      When this she spake, right sorrowful became
    The Rani, weeping silently, nor gave
    One word of answer; and the palace-girls,
    Seeing this grief, sat round them, weeping too,
    And crying: "Haha! where is gone her lord?"
    And loud the lamentation was of all.
      Afterwards to the Maharaja his Queen
    Told what was said: "Lord! all uncomforted
    Thy daughter Damayanti weeps and grieves,
    Lacking her husband. Even to me she spake
    Before our damsels, laying shame aside:--
    'Find Nala; let the people of the court
    Strive day and night to learn where Nala is.'"

    Then Bhima, hearing, called his Bráhmanas
    Patient and wise, and issued hest to go
    Into all regions, seeking for the Prince.
    But first, by mandate of the Maharaja,
    To Damayanti all those twice-born came,
    Saying: "Now we depart!" Then Bhima's child
    Gave ordinance: "To whatsoever lands
    Ye wend, say this--wherever gather men,
    Say this--in every place these verses speak:--

      Whither art thou departed, cruel lover,
        Who stole the half of thy belovèd's cloth,
      And left her to awaken, and discover
        The wrong thou wroughtest to the love of both?
      She, as thou didst command, a sad watch keepeth,
        With woful heart wearing the rended dress.
      Prince, hear her cry who thus forever weepeth;
        Be mindful, hero; comfort her distress!

    And, furthermore," the Princess said, "since fire
    Leaps into flame when the wind fans the spark,
    Be this too spoken, that his heart may burn:--

      By every husband nourished and protected
        Should every wife be. Think upon the wood!
      Why these thy duties hast thou so neglected,
        Prince, that was called noble and true and good?
      Art then become compassionate no longer,
        Shunning, perchance, my fortune's broken way?
      Ah, husband, love is most! let love be stronger;
        _Ahimsa paro dharma_,[25] thou didst say.

    These verses while ye speak," quoth the Princess,
    "Should any man make answer, note him well
    In any place; and who he is, and where
    He dwells. And if one listens to these words
    Intently, and shall so reply to them,
    Good Bráhmans, hold ye fast his speech, and bring,
    Breath by breath, all of it unto me here;
    But so that he shall know not whence ye speak,
    If ye go back. Do this unweariedly;
    And if one answer--be he high or low,
    Wealthy or poor--learn all he was and is,
    And what he would."
                        Hereby enjoined, they went,
    Those twice-born, into all the lands to seek
    Prince Nala in his loneliness. Through towns,
    Cities and villages, hamlets and camps,
    By shepherds' huts and hermits' caves, they passed,
    Searching for Nala; yet they found him not;
    Albeit in every region (O my king!)
    The words of Damayanti, as she taught,
    Spake they again in hearing of all men.
      Suddenly--after many days--there came
    A Bráhman back, Parnâda he was called,
    Who unto Bhima's child in this wise spake:--
    "O Damayanti, seeking Nala still,
    Ayodhyâ's streets I entered, where I saw
    The Maharaja; he--noble-minded one!--
    Heard me thy verses say, as thou hadst said;
    Great Rituparna heard those very words,
    Excellent Princess; but he answered nought;
    And no man answered, out of all the throng
    Ofttimes addressed. But when I had my leave
    And was withdrawn, a man accosted me
    Privately--one of Rituparna's train,
    Vahûka named, the Raja's charioteer
    (Something misshapen, with a shrunken arm,
    But skilled in driving, very dexterous
    In cookery and sweetmeats). He--with groans,
    And tears which rolled and rolled--asked of my health,
    And then these verses spake full wistfully:--

      'Even when their loss is largest, noble ladies
        Keep the true treasure of their hearts unspent,
      Attaining heaven through faith, which undismayed is
        By wrong, unaltered by abandonment;
      Such an one guards with virtue's golden shield
        Her name from harm; pious and pure and tender;
      And, though her lord forsook her, will not yield
        To wrath, even against that vile offender--
      Even against the ruined, rash, ungrateful,
        Faithless, fond Prince from whom the birds did steal
      His only cloth, whom now a penance fateful
        Dooms to sad days, that dark-eyed will not feel
      Anger; for if she saw him she should see
        A man consumed with grief and loss and shame;
      Ill or well lodged, ever in misery,
        Her unthroned lord, a slave without a name.'

    Such words I heard him speak," Parnâda said,
    "And, hastening thence, I tell them to thee, here;
    Thou knowest; thou wilt judge; make the King know."
    But Damayanti listened, with great eyes
    Welling quick tears, while thus Parnâda spake,
    And afterwards crept secretly and said
    Unto her mother: "Breathe no word hereof,
    Dear mother, to the King, but let me speak
    With wise Sudêva in thy presence here;
    Nothing should Bhima know of what I plan,
    But, if thou lovest me, by thee and me
    This shall be wrought. As I was safely led
    By good Sudêva home, so let him go--
    With not less happy fortune--to bring back,
    Ere many days, my Nala; let him seek
    Ayodhyâ, mother dear, and fetch my Prince!"
      But first Parnâda, resting from his road--
    That best of twice-borns--did the Princess thank
    With honorable words and gifts: "If home
    My Nala cometh, Bráhman!" so she spake,
    "Great guerdon will I give. Thou hast well done
    For me herein--- better than any man;
    Helping me find again my wandered lord."
    To which fair words made soft reply, and prayers
    For "peace and fortune," that high-minded one,
    And so passed home, his service being wrought.
      Next to Sudêva spake the sad Princess
    This (O my King!), her mother standing by:--
    "Good Bráhman, to Ayodhyâ's city go.
    Say in the ears of Raja Rituparna,
    As though thou cam'st a simple traveller,
    'The daughter of King Bhima once again
    Maketh to hold her high Swayamvara.
    The kings and princes from all lands repair
    Thither; the time draws nigh; to-morrow's dawn
    Shall bring the day. If thou wouldst be of it,
    Speed quickly, conquering King! at sunsetting
    Another lord she chooseth for herself;
    Since whether Nala liveth or is dead,
    None knoweth.'"
                    These the words which he should say;
    And, learning them, he sped, and thither came--
    That Bráhmana Sudêva--and he spake
    To Maharaja Rituparna so.
      Now when the Raja Rituparna heard
    Sudêva's words, quoth he to Vahûka
    Full pleasantly: "Much mind I have to go
    Where Damayanti holds Swayamvara,
    If to Vidarbha, in a single day,
    Thou deemest we might drive, my charioteer!"
      Of Nala, by his Raja thus addressed,
    Torn was the heart with anguish; for he thought:--
    "Can Damayanti purpose this? Could grief
    So change her? Is it not some fine device
    For my sake schemed? Or doth my Princess seek,
    All holy as she was, this guilty joy,
    Being so wronged of me, her rash weak lord?
    Frail is a woman's heart, and my fault great!
    Thus might she do it, being far from home,
    Bereft of friends, desolate with long woes
    Of love for me--my slender-waisted one!
    Yet no, no, no! she would not--she that is
    My children's mother! Be it false or true,
    Best shall I know in going; therefore now
    The will of Rituparna must I serve."
      Thus pondering in his mind, the troubled Prince
    With joined palms meekly to his master said:--
    "I shall thy hest accomplish! I can drive
    In one day, Raja, to Vidarbha's gates."
      Then in the royal stables--steed by steed,
    Stallions and mares, Vahûka scanned them all,
    By Rituparna prayed quickly to choose.
    Slowly he picked four coursers, under-fleshed,
    But big of bone and sinew; fetlocked well
    For journeying; high-bred, heavy-framed; of blood
    To match the best, yet gentle; blemish-free;
    Broad in the jaw, with scarlet nostrils spread;
    Bearing the _Avarthas_, the ten true marks--
    Reared on the banks of Indus, swift as wind.
    Which, when the Raja looked upon, he cried,
    Half-wrathful: "What thing thinkest thou to do?
    Wilt thou betray me? How should sorry beasts,
    Lean-ribbed and ragged, take us all that way,
    The long road we must swiftly travel hence?"
      Vahûka answered: "See on all these four
    The ten sure marks: one curl upon each crest,
    Two on the cheeks, two upon either flank,
    Two on the breast, and on each crupper one.[26]
    These to Vidarbha--doubt it not--will go;
    Yet, Raja, if thou wilt have others, speak;
    And I shall yoke them."
                            Rituparna said:--
    "I know thou hast deep skill in stable-craft;
    Yoke therefore such four coursers as thou wilt,
    But quickly!"
                  Thus those horses, two by two,
    High-mettled, spare, and strong, Prince Nala put
    Under the bars; and when the car was hitched,
    And eagerly the Raja made to mount,
    At sign the coursers bent their knees, and lay
    Along the earth. Then Nala (O my King!),
    With kindly voice cheering the gaunt bright steeds,
    Loosed them, and grasped the reins, and bade ascend
    Varshneya: so he started, headlong, forth.
      At cry of Vahûka the four steeds sprung
    Into the air, as they would fly with him;
    And when the Raja felt them, fleet as wind,
    Whirling along, mute sat he and amazed;
    And much Varshneya mused to hear and see
    The thundering of those wheels; the fiery four
    So lightly held; Vahûka's matchless art.
    "Is Mâtali, who driveth Indra's car,
    Our charioteer? for all the marks of him
    Are here! or Sâlihotra can this be,
    The god of horses, knowing all their ways,
    Who here in mortal form his greatness hides?
    Or is it--can it be--Nala the Prince,
    Nala the steed-tamer?" Thus pondered he:--
    "Whatever Nala knew this one doth know.
    Alike the mastery seems of both; alike
    I judge their years. If this man be not he,
    Two Nalas are there in the world for skill.
    They say there wander mighty powers on earth
    In strange disguises, who, divinely sprung,
    Veil themselves from us under human mould;
    Bewilderment it brings me, this his shape
    Misshappen--from conclusion that alone
    Withholds me; yet I wist not what to think,
    In age and manner like--and so unlike
    In form! Else Vahûka I must have deemed
    Nala, with Nala's gifts."
                              So in his heart,
    Varshneya, watching, wondered--being himself
    The second charioteer. But Rituparna
    Sat joyous with the speed, delightedly
    Marking the driving of the Prince: the eyes
    Attent; the hand so firm upon the reins;
    The skill so quiet, wise, and masterful;
    Great joy the Maharaja had to see.
      By stream and mountain, woodland-path and pool,
    Swiftly, like birds that skim in air, they sped;
    Till, as the chariot plunged, the Raja saw
    His shoulder-mantle falling to the ground;
    And--loath to lose the robe--albeit so pressed,
    To Nala cried he, "Let me take it up;
    Check the swift horses, wondrous charioteer;
    And bid Varshneya light, and fetch my cloth,"
    But Nala answered: "Far it lies behind;
    A yojana already we have passed;
    We cannot turn again to pick it up."
      A little onward Riturparna saw
    Within the wood a tall Myrobolan
    Heavy with fruit; hereat, eager he cried:--
    "Now, Vahûka, my skill thou mayest behold
    In the Arithmic. All arts no man knows;
    Each hath his wisdom, but in one man's wit
    Is perfect gift of one thing, and not more.
    From yonder tree how many leaves and fruits,
    Think'st thou, lie fall'n there upon the earth?
    Just one above a thousand of the leaves,
    And one above a hundred of the fruits;
    And on those two limbs hang, of dancing leaves,
    Five crores exact; and shouldst thou pluck yon boughs
    Together with their shoots, on those twain boughs
    Swing twice a thousand nuts and ninety-five!"
      Vahûka checked the chariot wonderingly,
    And answered: "Imperceptible to me
    Is what thou boastest, slayer of thy foes!
    But I to proof will put it, hewing down
    The tree, and, having counted, I shall know.
    Before thine eyes the branches twain I'll lop:
    How prove thee, Maharaja, otherwise,
    Whether this be or be not? I will count
    One by one--fruits and leaves--before thee, King;
    Varshneya, for a space, can rein the steeds."
      To him replied the Raja: "Time is none
    Now to delay."
                    Vahûka answered quick
    (His own set purpose serving): "Stay this space,
    Or by thyself drive on! The road is good,
    The son of Vrishni will be charioteer!"
      On that the Raja answered soothingly:--
    "There is not in the earth another man
    That hath thy skill; and by thy skill I look
    To reach Vidarbha, O thou steed-tamer!
    Thou art my trust; make thou not hindrance now!
    Yet would I suffer, too, what thou dost ask,
    If thou couldst surely reach Vidarbha's gate
    Before yon sun hath sunk."
                               Nala replied:--
    "When I have counted those vibhîtak boughs,
    Vidarbha I will reach; now keep thy word."
      Ill pleased, the Raja said: "Halt then, and count!
    Take one bough from the branch which I shall show,
    And tell its fruits, and satisfy thy soul."
      So leaping from the car--eager he shore
    The boughs, and counted; and all wonder-struck
    To Rituparna spake: "Lo, as thou saidst
    So many fruits there be upon this bough!
    Exceeding marvellous is this thy gift,
    I burn to know such learning, how it comes."
      Answered the Raja, for his journey fain:--
    "My mind is quick with numbers, skilled to count;
    I have the science."
                         "Give it me, dear Lord!"
    Vahûka cried: "teach me, I pray, this lore,
    And take from me my skill in horse-taming."
      Quoth Rituparna--impatient to proceed--
    Yet of such skill desirous: "Be it so!
    As thou hast prayed, receive my secret art,
    Exchanging with me here thy mastery
    Of horses."
                Thereupon did he impart
    His rules of numbers, taking Nala's too.
      But wonderful! So soon as Nala knew
    That hidden gift, the accursed Kali leapt
    Forth from his breast, the evil spirit's mouth
    Spewing the poison of Karkôtaka
    Even as he issued. From the afflicted Prince
    That bitter plague of Kali passed away;
    And for a space Prince Nala lost himself,
    Rent by the agony. But when he saw
    The evil one take visible shape again--
    Free from the serpent's poison--Nishadha's Lord
    Had thought to curse him then; but Kali stood
    With clasped palms trembling, and besought the Prince,
    Saying: "Thy wrath restrain, Sovereign of men!
    I will repay thee well. Thy virtuous wife,
    Indrasen's angered mother, laid her ban
    Upon me when thou didst forsake her; since
    Within thee have I dwelled in anguish sore,
    Tortured and tossed and burning, night and day,
    With venom from the great snake's fang, which passed
    Into me by thy blood. Be pitiful!
    I take my refuge in thy mercy! Hear
    My promise, Prince! Wherever men henceforth
    Shall name thee before people, praising thee,
    This shall protect them from the dread of me;
    Nala shall guard from Kali, if so now
    Thou spare to curse me, seeking grace of thee."
      Thus supplicated, Nala stayed his wrath,
    Acceding; and the direful Kali fled
    Into the wounded tree, possessing it.
    But of no eyes, save Nala's, was he seen,
    Nor heard of any other; and the Prince,
    His sorrows shaking off, when Kali passed,
    After that numbering of the leaves, in joy
    Unspeakable, and glowing with new hope,
    Mounted the car again, and urged his steeds.
    But from that hour the tall Myrobolan,
    Possessed by Kali, stood there, sear and dead.
      Then onward, onward, speeding like the birds,
    Those coursers flew; and fast and faster still
    The glad Prince cheered them forward, all elate:
    And proudly rode the Raja towards the walls
    Of high Vidarbha. Thus did journey down
    Exultant Nala, free of trouble now,
    Quit of the evil spell, but bearing still
    His form misshapen, and the shrunken limb.
      At sunset in Vidarbha (O great King!)
    The watchers on the walls proclaimed, "There comes
    The Raja Rituparna!" Bhima bade
    Open the gates; and thus they entered in,
    Making all quarters of the city shake
    With rattling of the chariot-wheels. But when
    The horses of Prince Nala heard that sound,
    For joy they neighed, as when of old their lord
    Drew nigh. And Damayanti, in her bower,
    Far off that rattling of the chariot heard,
    As when at time of rains is heard the voice
    Of clouds low thundering; and her bosom thrilled
    At echo of that ringing sound. It came
    Loud and more loud, like Nala's, when of old,
    Gripping the reins, he cheered his mares along.
    It seemed like Nala to the Princess then--
    That clatter of the trampling of the hoofs;
    It seemed like Nala to the stabled steeds:
    Upon the palace-roof the peacocks heard
    And screamed; the elephants within their stalls
    Heard it and trumpeted; the coursers, tied,
    Snorted for joy to hear that leaping car;
      Peacocks and elephants and cattle stalled
    All called and clamored with uplifted heads,
    As wild things do at noise of coming rain.
      Then to herself the Princess spake: "This car,
    The rolling of it, echoing all around,
    Gladdens my heart. It must be Nala comes,
    My King of men! If I see not, this day,
    My Prince that hath the bright and moon-like face,
    My hero of unnumbered gifts, my lord,
    Ah, I shall die! If this day fall I not
    Into his opening arms--at last, at last--
    And feel his close embrace, oh, beyond doubt,
    I cannot live! If--ending all--to-day
    Nishadha cometh not, with this deep sound
    Like far-off thunder, then to-night I'll leap
    Into the golden, flickering, fiery flames!
    If now, now, now, my lion draws not nigh,
    My warrior-love, like the wild elephant,
    My Prince of princes--I shall surely die!
    Nought call I now to mind he said or did
    That was not rightly said and justly done.
    No idle word he spake, even in free speech;
    Patient and lordly; generous to bestow
    Beyond all givers; scorning to be base,
    Yea, even in secret--such Nishadha was.
    Alas! when, day and night, I think of him,
    How is my heart consumed, reft of its joy!"
      So meditating, like one torn by thoughts,
    She mounted to the palace-roof to see;
    And thence, in the mid-court, the car beheld
    Arriving. Rituparna and Vahûka
    She saw, with Vrishni's son, descend and loose
    The panting horses, wheeling back the car.
      Then Rituparna, alighting, sought the King,
    Bhima the Maharaja, far-renowned--
    Whom Bhima with fair courtesies received;
    Since well he deemed such breathless visit made
    With deep cause, knowing not the women's plots.
    "_Swâgatam!"_ cried he; "what hath brought thee, Prince?"
    For nothing wist he that the Raja came
    Suitor of Damayanti. Questioned so,
    This Raja Rituparna, wise and brave,
    Seeing no kings nor princes in the court,
    Nor noise of the Swayamvara, nor crowd
    Of Bráhmans gathering--weighing all those things,
    Answered in this wise: "I am come, great Lord,
    To make thee salutations!" But the King
    Laughed in his beard at Rituparna's word--
    That this of many weary yojanas
    Should be the mark. "_Ahoswid_! Hath he passed
    Through twenty towns," thought he, "and hither flown
    To bid good-morrow? Nay, it is not that.
    Good! I shall know it when he bids me know."
      Thereat, with friendly speech his noble guest
    The King to rest dismissed. "Repose thyself,"
    He said; "the road was long; weary thou art."
    And Rituparna, with sentences of grace
    Replying to this graciousness, was led
    By slaves to the allotted sleeping-room;
    And after Rituparna, Varshneya went.
    Vahûka, left alone, the chariot ran
    Into its shed, and from the foamy steeds
    Unbuckled all the harness, thong by thong,
    Speaking soft words to them; then sat him down,
    Alone, forgotten, on the driving-seat.
      But Damayanti, seeing Rituparna,
    And Vrishni's son, and him called Vahûka,
    Spake sorrowful: "Whose was the thunder, then,
    Of that fleet car? It seemed like Nala's own;
    Yet here I see no Nala! Hath yon man
    My lord's art learned, or th'other one, that thus
    Their car should thunder as when Nala comes?
    Could Rituparna drive as Nala doth,
    So that those chariot-wheels should sound like his?"
    And, after having pondered (O my King!),
    The beauteous Princess sent her handmaiden
    To Vahûka, that she might question him.
      "Go, Keshinî," the Princess said; "inquire
    Who is that man upon the driving-seat,
    Misshapen, with the shrunken arm. Approach
    Composedly, question him winningly
    With greetings kind, and bid him answer thee
    According to the truth. I feel at heart
    A doubt--a hope--that this, perchance, may be
    My Lord and Prince; there is some new-born joy
    Fluttering within my breast. Accost him, girl;
    And, ere thou partest, what Parnâda said,
    Say thou, and hear him answer, blameless one,
    And bring it on thy lips!"
                                Then went the maid
    Demurely, and accosted Vahûka,
    While Damayanti watched them from the roof.
      "_Kushalam tê bravîmi_--health and peace
    I wish thee!" said she. "Wilt thou answer true
    What Damayanti asks? She sends to ask
    Whence set ye forth, and wherefore are ye come
    Hither? Vidarbha's Princess fain would know."
      "'Twas told my Raja," Vahûka replied,
    "That Damayanti for the second turn
    Holds her Swayamvara: the Bráhman's word
    Was, "This shall be to-morrow." So he sped,
    Hearing that news, with steeds which in one day
    Fly fifty yojanas, swift as the winds,
    Exceeding fleet. His charioteer am I."
      "Who, then," Keshinî asked, "is he that rode
    The third? whence cometh he, and what his race?
    And thou thyself whence sprung? and tell me why
    Thou servest thus?"
                          Then Vahûka replied:--
    "Varshneya is the third who rode with us,
    The famous charioteer of Nala he:
    When thy Prince fled, he went to Koshala
    And took our service. I in horse-taming
    And dressing meat have skill; so am I made
    King Rituparna's driver and his cook."
      "Knoweth Varshneya, then, where Nala fled?"
    Inquired the maid; "and did he tell thee this,
    Or what spake he?"
                      "Of that unhappy Prince
    He brought the children hither, and then went
    Even where he would, of Nala wotting nought;
    Nor wotteth any man, fair damsel! more.
    Hidden from mortal eyes Nishadha lives,
    Wandering the world, his very body changed.
    Of Nala only Nala's own heart knows,
    And by no sign doth he bewray himself."
      Keshinî said: "That Bráhman who did wend
    First to Ayodhyâ bore a verse to say
    Over and over, everywhere--strange words,
    Wove by a woman's wit. Listen to these:--

      'Whither art thou departed, cruel lover,
        Who stole the half of thy belovèd's cloth,
      And left her to awaken and discover
        The wrong thou wroughtest to the love of both?
      She, as thou didst command, a sad watch keepeth,
        With woful heart wearing the rended dress.
      Prince, hear her cry who thus forever weepeth;
        Be mindful, hero; comfort her distress!'

    What was it thou didst utter, hearing this?
    Some gentle speech! Say it again--the Queen,
    My peerless mistress, fain would know from me.
    Nay, on thy faith, when thou didst hear that man,
    What was it thou replied? She would know."
      (Descendant of the Kurus!) Nala's heart,
    While so the maid spoke, well-nigh burst with grief,
    And from his eyes fast flowed the rolling tears;
    But, mastering his anguish, holding down
    The passion of his pain, with voice which strove
    To speak through sobs, the Prince repeated this:--

      "Even against the ruined, rash, ungrateful,
        Faithless, fond Prince, from whom the birds did steal
      His only cloth, whom now a penance fateful
        Dooms to sad days, that dark-eyed will not feel
      Anger; for if she saw him she should see
        A man consumed with grief and loss and shame;
      Ill or well lodged, ever in misery,
        Her unthroned lord, a slave without a name."

      Speaking these verses, woful Nala moaned,
    And, overcome by thought, restrained no more
    His trickling tears; fast broke they forth (O King!).
    But Keshinî, returning, told his words
    To Damayanti, and the grief of him.
      When Damayanti heard, sore-troubled still,
    Yet in her heart supposing him her Prince,
    Again she spake: "Go, Kashinî, and watch
    Whatever this man doeth; near him stand,
    Holding thy peace, and mark the ways of him
    And all his acts, going and coming; note
    If aught there be of strange in any deed.
    Let them not give him fire, my girl--not though
    This hindereth sore; nor water, though he ask
    Even with beseeching. Afterwards observe,
    And bring me what befalls, and every sign
    Of earthly or unearthly power he shows;
    And whatsoever else Vahûka doth,
    See it, and say."
                    Thereon Keshinî sped,
    Obeying Damayanti and--at hand--
    Whatever by that horse-tamer was wrought,
    The damsel watched, and all his ways; and came
    Back to the Princess, unto whom she told
    Each thing Vahûka did, as it befell,
    And what the signs were, and the wondrous works
    Of earthly and unearthly gifts in him.
      "_Subhê_!"[27] quoth she, "the man is magical,
    But high and holy mannered; never yet
    Saw I another such, nor heard of him.
    Passing the low door of the inner court,
    Where one must stoop, he did not bow his head,
    But as he came the lintel lifted up
    And gave him space. Bhima the King had sent
    Many and diverse meats for Rituparna,
    Of beast and bird and fish--great store of food--
    The which to cleanse some chatties stood hard by,
    All empty; yet he did but look on them,
    Wishful, and lo! the water brimmed the pots.
    Then, having washed the meats, he hastened forth
    In quest of fire, and, holding towards the sun
    A knot of withered grass, the bright flame blazed
    Instant amidst it. Wonderstruck was I
    This miracle to see, and hither ran
    With other strangest marvels to impart:--
    For, Princess, when he touched the blazing grass
    He was not burned, and water flows for him
    At will, or ceases flowing; and this, too,
    The strangest thing of all, did I behold--
    He took some faded leaves and flowers up,
    And idly handled them; but while his hands
    Toyed with them, lo! they blossomed forth again
    With lovelier life than ever, and fresh scent,
    Straight on their stalks. These marvels have I seen,
    And fly back now to tell thee, mistress dear!"
      But when she knew such wonders of the man,
    More certainly she deemed those acts and gifts
    Betokened Nala; and so-minded, full
    Of trust to find her lord in Vahûka,
    With happier tears and softening voice she said
    To Keshinî: "Speed yet again, my girl;
    And, while he wots not, from the kitchen take
    Meat he hath dressed, and bring it here to me."
    So went the maid, and, waiting secretly,
    Broke from the mess a morsel, hot and spiced,
    And, bearing it with faithful swiftness, gave
    To Damayanti. She (O Kuru King!)--
    That knew so well the dishes dressed by him--
    Touched, tasted it, and, laughing--weeping--cried,
    Beside herself with joy: "Yes, yes; 'tis he!
    That charioteer is Nala!" then, a-pant,
    Even while she washed her mouth, she bade the maid
    Go with the children twain to Vahûka;
    Who, when he saw his little Indrasen
    And Indrasena, started up, and ran,
    And caught, and folded them upon his breast;
    Holding them there, his darlings, each as fair
    As children of the gods. Then, quite undone
    With love and yearning, loudly sobbed the Prince.
      Until, perceiving Keshinî, who watched,
    Shamed to be known, he set his children down,
    And said: "In sooth, good friend, this lovely pair
    So like mine own are, that at seeing them
    I am surprised into these foolish tears.
    Thou comest here too often; men will think
    Thee light, or me; remember, we are here,
    Strangers and guests, girl! Go thy ways in peace!"
      But seeing that great trouble of his soul,
    Lightly came Keshinî, and pictured all
    To Damayanti. She, burning to know
    If truly this were Nala, bade the girl
    Seek the Queen's presence, saying thus for her:--
    "Mother! long watching Vahûka, I deem
    The charioteer is Nala. One doubt lives--
    His altered form. I must myself have speech
    With Vahûka; thou, therefore, bid him come,
    Or suffer me to seek him. Be this done
    Forthwith, good mother!--whether known or not
    Unto the Maharaja."
                        When she heard,
    The Queen told Bhima what the Princess prayed,
    Who gave consent; and having this good leave
    From father and from mother (O my King!),
    Command was sent that Vahûka be brought
    Where the court ladies lodged.
                                  So met those twain;
    And when Prince Nala's gaze fell on his wife,
    He stood with beating heart and tearful eyes.
    And when sweet Damayanti looked on him,
    She could not speak for anguish of keen joy
    To have him close; but sat there, mute and wan,
    Wearing a sad-hued cloth, her lustrous hair
    Falling unbanded, and the mourning-mark
    Stamped in gray ashes on her lovely brow.
    And, when she found a voice, these were the words
    That came from her: "Didst ever, Vahûka--
    If Vahûka thy name be, as thou say'st--
    Know one of noble nature, honorable,
    Who in the wild woods left his wife asleep--
    His innocent, fond wife--weary and worn?
    Know'st thou the man. I'll say his name to thee;
    'Twas Nala, Raja Nala! Ah, and when
    In any thoughtless hour had I once wrought
    The smallest wrong, that he should leave me so,
    There in the wood, by slumber overcome?
    Before the gods I chose him for my lord,
    The gods themselves rejecting; tell me how
    This Prince could so abandon, in her need,
    His true, his loving wife, she who did bear
    His babes--abandon her to whom he swore--
    My hand clasped, in the sight of all the gods,
    And Agni's self--'Thy true lord I will be!'
    Thou saidst it!--where is now that promise, fled?"
      While thus she spake (O Victor of thy foes!),
    Fast from her eyes the woe-sprung waters ran.
    And Nala, seeing those night-black, loving eyes
    Reddened with weeping, seeing her falling tears;
    Broke forth: "Ah! that I lost my throne and realm
    In dicing, was not done by fault of mine;
    'T was Kali wrought it; Kali, O my wife,
    Drove me to leave thee. Therefore, long ago
    That evil one was stricken by the curse
    Which thou didst utter, wandering in the wood,
    Desolate, night and day, grieving for me.
    Possessing me he dwelt; but, cursed by thee,
    Tortured he dwelt, consuming with thy words
    In fierce and fiercer pain, as when is piled
    Brand upon burning brand. But he is gone;
    Patience and penance have o'ermastered him.
    Princess, the end is reached of our long woes.
    That evil one being fled, freeing my will,
    See, I am here; and wherefore would I come,
    Fairest, except for thee? Yet, answer this:--
    How should a wife, right-minded to her lord--
    Her own and lawful lord--compass to choose
    Another love, as thou, that tremblest, didst?
    Thy messengers over all regions ran,
    By the King's name proclaiming: 'Bhima's child
    A second husband chooseth for herself,
    Whomso she will--as pleaseth--being free,'
    Those shameless tidings brought the Raja here
    At headlong speed--and me!"
                                 Tenderly smiled
    Damayanti through her tears, with quivering lips,
    And joined palms, answering her aggrievèd Prince:--
    "Judgest thou me guilty of such a sin?
    When for thy sake I put the gods aside--
    Thee did I choose, Nishadha, my one lord.
    In quest of thee did all those Bráhmans range
    In all ten regions, telling all one tale
    Taught them by me; and so Parnâda came
    To Koshala, where Rituparna dwells,
    And found thee in his house, and spake to thee
    Those words, and had thy gentle answer back.
    Mine the device was, Prince, to bring thee quick;
    For well I wist no man in all this world
    Could in one day the fleetest coursers urge
    So many yojanas, save thou, dear Prince!
    I touch thy feet, and tell thee this in truth;
    And true it is that never any wrong
    Against thee, even in fancy, have I dreamed.
    Witness for me, as I am loyal and pure,
    The ever-shifting, all-beholding Air,
    Who wanders o'er the earth; let him withdraw
    My breath and slay me, if I sinned in aught!
    Witness for me, yon golden Sun who goes
    With bright eye over us; let him withhold
    Warm life and kill me, if I sinned in aught!
    Witness for me the white Moon, whose pale spell
    Lies on all flesh and spirit; let that orb
    Deny me peace and end me, if I sinned!
    These be the watchers and the testifiers,
    The three chief gods that rule the three wide worlds;
    I cry unto them; let them speak for me;
    And thou shalt hear them answer for my faith,
    Or once again, this day, abandon me."
      Then Vayu showed--the all-enfolding Air--
    And spake: "Not one wrong hath she wrought thee, Prince,
    I tell thee sooth. The treasure of her truth
    Faultless and undefiled she hath kept
    By us regarded, and sustained by us,
    These many days. Her tender plot it was,
    Planned for thy sake, which brought thee; since who else
    Could in one day drive threescore yojanas?
    Nala, thou hast thy noble wife again;
    Thou, Damayanti, hast thy Nala back.
    Away with doubting; take her to thy breast,
    Thrice happy Prince!"
                          And while God Vayu spake,
    Look! there showered flowers down out of the sky[28]
    Upon them; and the drums of heaven beat
    Beautiful music, and a gentle wind,
    Fragrant, propitious, floated, kissing them.
    But Nala, when he saw these things befall--
    Wonderful, gracious--when he heard that voice
    Called the great snake to memory:--whereupon
    His proper self returned. Bhima's fair child
    Divinely sounding (Lord of Bhârat's line!)--
    Yielded all doubt of his delightful Love.
    Then cast he round about his neck the cloth--
    Unstained by earth, enchanted--and (O King!)
    Saw her dear lord his beauteous form resume.
    "Ah, Nala! Nala!" cried she, while her arms
    Clasped him and clung; and Nala to his heart
    Pressed that bright lady, glowing, as of old,
    With princely majesty. Their children twain
    Next he caressed; while she--at happy peace--
    Her beautiful glad face laid on his breast,
    Sighing with too much joy. And Nala stood
    A great space silent, gazing on her face,
    Sorrow-stamped yet, her long, deep-lidded eyes,
    Her melting smile--himself 'twixt joy and woe.
      Afterwards, all that story of the Prince,
    And all of Damayanti, Bhima's Queen
    Told to the Maharaja joyously.
    And Bhima said: "To-morrow will I see--
    When Nala hath his needful offerings made--
    Our daughter and this wandering lord well knit."
      But all that night they sat, hand clasped in hand,
    Rejoicing, and relating what befell
    In the wild wood, and of the woful times.
      That night being spent, Prince Nala in his state
    Led forth Vidarbha's Pride before the court.
    And Bhima--in an hour found fortunate--
    Re-wed those married lovers. Dutifully
    Nala paid homage to the Maharaja,
    And reverently did Damayanti bow
    Before her father. He the Prince received
    With grace and gladness, as a son restored,
    Making fair welcome, and with words of praise
    Exalting Damayanti, tried and true;
    Which in all dignity Prince Nala took,
    Returning, as was meet, words honorable.
    Therewith unto the city spread the noise
    Of that rejoicing. All the townspeople,
    Learning of Nala joyously returned,
    Made all their quarters gay with float of flags,
    Flutter of cloths, and garlands; sprinkled free
    The King's-ways with fresh water, and the cups
    Of fragrant flowers; and hung long wreaths of flowers.
    From door to door the white street-fronts before;
    And decked each temple-porch, and went about
    The altar-gods.
    And afterwards, in Bhima's royal house
    Serenely dwelled the Princess and the Prince,
    Each making for the other peaceful joy.
    So in the fourth year Nala was rejoined
    To Damayanti, comforted and free,
    Restful, attained, tasting delights again.
    Also the glad Princess, gaining her lord,
    Laid sorrows by, and blossomed forth anew,
    As doth the laughing earth when the rain falls,
    And brings her unseen, waiting wonders forth
    Of blade and flower and fruit. The ache was gone,
    The loneliness and load. Heart-full of ease,
    Lovelier she grew and brighter, like the moon
    Mounting at midnight in the cloudless blue.
                    When Rituparna heard
    How Vahûka is Nala in disguise,
    And of the meeting, right rejoiced at heart
    That Raja grew. And, being softly prayed
    By Nala favorable thought, the King
    Made royal and gentle answer, with like grace
    By Nala met. To whom spake Rituparna:--
    "Joy go with thee and her, happily joined.
    But say, Nishadha, wrought I any jot
    Wrongful to thee, whilst sojourning unknown
    Within my walls? If any word or deed,
    Purposed or purposeless, hath vexed thee, friend,
    For one and all thy pardon grant to me!"
      And Nala answered: "Never act or word,
    The smallest, Raja, lingers to excuse!
    If this were otherwise, thy slave was I,
    And might not question, but must pardon thee.
    Yet good to me thou wert, princely and just,
    And kind thou art; and friendly from this time
    Deign thou to be. Happily was I lodged,
    Well-tended, well-befriended in thy house;
    In mine own palace never better stead.
    The skill in steeds which pleased thee, that is mine,
    And, Raja, I will give it all to thee,
    If thou art minded."
                         So Nishadha gave
    All his great gift in horses to the King,
    Who learned each rule approved, and ordinance;
    And, having all this knowledge, gave in turn
    His deepest lore of numbers and the dice
    To Nala, afterwards departing home
    To his own place, another charioteer
    Driving his steeds; and, Rituparna gone,
    Not long did Nala dwell in Bhima's town.
      When one moon he had tarried, taking leave,
    Nishadha to his city started forth
    With chosen train. A shining car he drove;
    And elephants sixteen, and fifty horse,
    And footmen thirty-score came in the rear.
    Swiftly did Nala journey, making earth
    Quake 'neath his flying car; and wrathfully
    With quick steps entered he his palace doors.
    The son of Virasena, Nala, stood
    Once more before that gamester Pushkara!
    Spake he: "Play yet again; much wealth is mine,
    And that, and all I have--yea, my Princess--
    Set I for stakes: set thou this realm, and throw!
    My mind is fixed a second chance to try,
    Where, Pushkara, we will play for all or none.
    Who wins his throne and treasures from a prince,
    Must stand the hazard of the counter-cast--
    This is the accepted law. If thou dost blench,
    The next game we will play is 'life or death,'
    In chariot-fight; when, or of thee or me
    One shall lie satisfied: 'Descended realms,
    By whatsoever means, are to be sought,'
    The sages say, 'by whatsoever won.'
    Choose, therefore, Pushkara, which way of these
    Shall please thee; either meet me with the dice,
    Or with thy bow confront me in the field."
      When Pushkara this heard, lightly he smiled,
    Concluding victory sure; and to the Prince
    Answered, exulting: "_Dishtya_! hast thou gained
    Stakes for a counter-game, Nishadha, now?
    _Dishtya_! shall I have my hard-won prize,
    Sweet Damayanti? _Dishtya_! didst thou come
    In kissing-reach again of thy fair wife?
    Soon, in thy new gold splendid, she shall shine
    Before all men beside me, as in heaven
    On Sakra waits the loveliest Apsarâ.
    See, now, I thought on thee, I looked for thee,
    Ever and ever, Prince. There is no joy
    Like casting in the game with such as thee.
    And when to-day I win thy blameless one--
    The smooth-limbed Damayanti--then shall be
    What was to be: and I can rest content,
    For always in my heart her beauty burns."
      Listening the idle talk that babbler poured,
    Angry Prince Nala fain had lopped away
    His head with vengeful _khudga;_[29] but, unmoved,
    Albeit the wrath blazed in his bloodshot eyes,
    He made reply: "Play! mock me not with jests;
    Thou wilt not jest when I have cast with thee!"
      So was the game set, and the Princes threw
    Nala and Pushkara, and--the numbers named--
    By Nala was the hazard gained: he swept
    His brother's stake, gems, treasure, kingdom, off;
    At one stroke all that mighty venture won.
      Then quoth the conquering Prince to Pushkara,
    Scornfully smiling: "Mine is now once more
    Nishadha's throne; mine is the realm again,
    Its curse plucked forth; Vidarbha's glory thou,
    Outcast, shalt ne'er so much as look upon!
    Fool! who to-day becom'st her bond and slave.
    Not by thy gifts that evil stroke was wrought
    Wherefrom I fled before; 'twas Kali's spell--
    Albeit thou knew'st nought, fool--overmastered me;
    Yet will I visit not in wrathful wise
    My wrong on thee; live as thou wilt; I grant
    Wherewith to live, and set apart henceforth
    Thy proper goods and substance, and fit food.
    Nay, doubt not I shall show thee favor, too,
    And be in friendship with thee, if thou wilt,
    Who art my brother. Peace abide with thee!"
      Thus all-victorious Nala comforted
    His brother, and embraced him, sending him
    In honor to his town; and Pushkara--
    Gently entreated--to Nishadha spake,
    With folded palms and humbled face, these words:--
    "Unending be thy glory. May thy bliss
    Last and increase for twice five thousand years,
    Who grantest me wherewith to live, just Lord!
    And where to dwell." Thereafter, well bested,
    Pushkara sojourned with the Prince one moon;
    So to his town departed--heart-content--
    With slaves and foot-soldiers and followers,
    Gay as a rising sun (O Bhârat's glory!).
    Thus sent he Pushkara, rich and safe, away.
    Then, with flags and drums and jewels, robed and royally arrayed,
    Nala into fair Nishadha entry high and dazzling made;
    At the gates the Raja, halting, spake his people words of love;
    Gathered were they from the city, gathered from the field and grove;
    From the mountain and the maidan, all a-thrill with joy to see
    Nala come to guard his children. "Happy now our days will be,"
    Said the townsfolk, said the elders, said the villagers, "O King!"
    Standing all with palms upfolded: "Peace and fortune thou wilt bring
    To thy city, to thy country! Boundless welcome do we give,
    As the gods in heaven to Indra, when with them he comes to live."
    After, when the show was ended, and the city, calm and glad,
    Rest from tumult of rejoicing and rich flood of feasting had,
    Girt with shining squadrons, Nala fetched his pearl of women home.
    Like a queen did Damayanti back unto her palace come,
    By the Maharaja Bhima, by that mighty monarch sent
    Royally, with countless blessings, to her kingdom, in content.
    There, beside his peerless Princess, and his children, bore he sway,
    Godlike, even as Indra ruling 'mid the bliss of Nandana.[30]
    Bore he sway--my noble Nala--princeliest of all lords--who reign
    In the lands of Jambudwipa;[31] winning power and fame again;
    Ruling well his realm reconquered, like a just and perfect king,
    All the appointed gifts bestowing, all the rites remembering.

[22] Jhillikas are the large wood-crickets

[23] A caravan.

[24] This is a secretion which flows by a small orifice from the
elephant's temples at certain seasons. It is sweet-smelling, and
constantly alluded to in Hindoo poetry.

[25] "Gentleness is chief of virtues."

[26] These "curls" are the "Arvathas," or marks of good blood and

[27] "O Beautiful One!"

[28] This raining down of heavenly flowers on auspicious occasions is a
frequent incident in ancient Indian poetry.

[29] A short; broad-bladed sword.

[30] Nandana is the Paradise of Indra.

[31] Ancient name of India: "The Land of the Rose-apple Tree."




[_Metrical translation by R.T.H. Griffiths_]


The ideas of the human family are few, as is apparent from the study of
the literature of widely different nations. Thus the "Rámáyana" ranks in
Hindoo with the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" in Greek literature. The
character of Ráma corresponds with that of Menelaus, for both the
European and the Asiatic heroes have had their wives carried off from
them--although Sítá, the bride of Ráma, is chaste as an icicle from
Diana's temple, while Helen is the infamous type of wanton wives,
ancient and modern. The Hindoo Lanka is Troy, and Ayodhyá is Sparta. The
material civilization of the cities in the Hindoo epic is more luxurious
and gorgeous than that which Homer attributes to Greece in the heroic
age. Such splendor and refinement as invests social life at Lanka and
Ayodhyá never appear amid the severe simplicity of Argos or Troy. The
moral tone seems perhaps higher in India than in Greece during the
periods described in their several epics--at least as far as mutual love
and forbearance go--and the ideas of marriage and conjugal fidelity are
equally exalted.

As to the literary quality of the Hindoo epic in comparison with Homer's
work, we are at once impressed with the immense superiority of the Greek
poem in artistic proportion, point, and precision. The Hindoo poet
flounders along, amid a maze of prolix description and wearisome simile.
Trifles are amplified and repeated, and the whole poem resembles a wild
forest abounding in rich tropical vegetation, palms and flowers, but
without paths, roads, or limits. Or rather, we are reminded of one of
the highly painted and richly decorated idols of India, with their many
heads and many hands: but when we turn to the Greek epic we stand before
a statue of pure outline, flawless proportions, and more than human

It is difficult to fix the date of the "Rámáyana." Scholars generally
agree that it belongs to the third century before Christ, in its
original form, but that some recent portions were added even during the
Christian era. It is reckoned as one of the sacred books, and the study
of it is supposed to bring forgiveness of sin, and prosperity. Its
author is thought to have been the famous poet Válmíki, but the work has
evidently been rehandled several times, and there are three versions of
the poems still extant. The poem consists of twenty-four thousand
verses, and the story of it--now overlaid as it is with extravagant and
fabulous accretions--is evidently founded on fact. The scene of the poem
is laid in the city of Ayodhyá, the modern Oudh, which is described in
glowing colors as a place of health, beauty, and prosperity--

    "In by-gone ages built and planned
    By sainted Manu's princely hand."

In the splendid palace of the Rajah, at Oudh, lives Daśaratha, mourning
in childlessness. He is one of the princes descended from the sun, and
his line now threatens to become extinct. He determines to appeal to the
Gods by the Asva-medha, the great sacrifice in which a horse is the
victim. The rites accordingly are performed with unparalleled
magnificence, and, at the close of the ceremony, the high priest
declares to the king--

    "Four sons, O Monarch, shall be thine,
    Upholders of the royal line."

Among the offspring duly granted to Daśaratha is Ráma, who is a typical
Hindoo of the heroic type. His fair wife, Sítá, is carried off by the
demon Ravana, who had assumed the form of a humble priest, or ascetic,
in order to gain access to her. He carries her in his chariot to Lanka,
the fair city built on an island of the sea. By the assistance of a
large army of monkeys, Ráma marches against Lanka, and when they stand
helpless--for the water separates them from Ceylon--he then invokes the
goddess of the sea, as Achilles did Thetis, and she comes in radiant
beauty, telling them how to bridge the waves. The monkeys bring timber
and stones, the bridge is built, Lanka reached, and the battle begins.
Indra sends his own chariot down from heaven to Ráma, who mounts it, and
vanquishes Ravana in single combat, upon which Sítá is restored to her
husband. E.W.



    Praise to Válmíki, bird of charming song,
    Who mounts on Poesy's sublimest spray,
    And sweetly sings with accent clear and strong
    Ráma, aye Ráma, in his deathless lay.

    Where breathes the man can listen to the strain
    That flows in music from Válmíki's tongue,
    Nor feel his feet the path of bliss attain
    When Ráma's glory by the saint is sung?

    The stream Rámáyan leaves its sacred fount
    The whole wide world from sin and stain to free.
    The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount,
    The lordly Ráma is the darling sea.

    Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!
    Glory to him, Prachet's holy son!
    Whose pure lips quaff with ever-new delight
    The nectar-sea of deeds by Ráma done.

    Hail, arch-ascetic, pious, good, and kind!
    Hail, Saint Válmíki, lord of every lore!
    Hail, holy Hermit, calm and pure of mind!
    Hail, First of Bards, Válmíki, hail once more!





    To sainted Nárad, prince of those
    Whose lore in words of wisdom flows,
    Whose constant care and chief delight
    Were Scripture and ascetic rite,
    The good Válmíki, first and best
    Of hermit saints, these words addressed:--
    "In all this world, I pray thee, who
    Is virtuous, heroic, true?
    Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
    To every creature good and kind?
    Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise,
    Alone most fair to all men's eyes?
    Devoid of envy, firm, and sage,
    Whose tranquil soul ne'er yields to rage?
    Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
    Do Gods embattled fear and fly?
    Whose noble might and gentle skill
    The triple world can guard from ill?
    Who is the best of princes, he
    Who loves his people's good to see?
    The store of bliss, the living mine
    Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
    Queen Fortune's best and dearest friend,
    Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?
    Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
    With Indra, Vishnu, Fire, and Air?
    Grant, Saint divine, the boon I ask,
    For thee, I ween, an easy task,
    To whom the power is given to know
    If such a man breathe here below."

    Then Nárad, clear before whose eye
    The present, past, and future lie,
    Made ready answer: "Hermit, where
    Are graces found so high and rare?
    Yet listen, and my tongue shall tell
    In whom alone these virtues dwell.
    From old Ikshváku's line he came,
    Known to the world by Ráma's name:--
    With soul subdued, a chief of might,
    In Scripture versed, in glory bright.
    His steps in virtue's paths are bent,
    Obedient, pure, and eloquent.
    In each emprise he wins success,
    And dying foes his power confess.
    Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb,
    Fortune has set her mark on him.
    Graced with a conch-shell's triple line,
    His throat displays the auspicious sign.
    High destiny is clear impressed
    On massive jaw and ample chest.
    His mighty shafts he truly aims,
    And foemen in the battle tames.
    Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,
    Embedded lies his collar-bone.
    His lordly steps are firm and free,
    His strong arms reach below his knee;
    All fairest graces join to deck
    His head, his brow, his stately neck,
    And limbs in fair proportion set:--
    The manliest form e'er fashioned yet.
    Graced with each high imperial mark,
    His skin is soft and lustrous dark.
    Large are his eyes that sweetly shine
    With majesty almost divine.
    His plighted word he ne'er forgets;
    On erring sense a watch he sets.
    By nature wise, his teacher's skill
    Has trained him to subdue his will.
    Good, resolute and pure, and strong,
    He guards mankind from scathe and wrong,
    And lends his aid, and ne'er in vain,
    The cause of justice to maintain.
    Well has he studied o'er and o'er
    The Vedas and their kindred lore.
    Well skilled is he the bow to draw,
    Well trained in arts and versed in law;
    High-souled and meet for happy fate,
    Most tender and compassionate;
    The noblest of all lordly givers,
    Whom good men follow, as the rivers
    Follow the King of Floods, the sea:--
    So liberal, so just is he.
    The joy of Queen Kauśalyá's heart,
    In every virtue he has part;
    Firm as Himálaya's snowy steep,
    Unfathomed like the mighty deep;
    The peer of Vishnu's power and might,
    And lovely as the Lord of Night;
    Patient as Earth, but, roused to ire,
    Fierce as the world-destroying fire;
    In bounty like the Lord of Gold,
    And Justice' self in human mould.
    With him, his best and eldest son,
    By all his princely virtues won
    King Daśaratha willed to share
    His kingdom as the Regent Heir.
    But when Kaikeyí, youngest queen,
    With eyes of envious hate had seen
    The solemn pomp and regal state
    Prepared the prince to consecrate,
    She bade the hapless king bestow
    Two gifts he promised long ago,
    That Ráma to the woods should flee,
    And that her child the heir should be.

    By chains of duty firmly tied,
    The wretched King perforce complied.
    Ráma, to please Kaikeyí went
    Obedient forth, to banishment.
    Then Lakshman's truth was nobly shown,
    Then were his love and courage known,
    When for his brother's sake he dared
    All perils, and his exile shared.
    And Sítá, Ráma's darling wife,
    Loved even as he loved his life,
    Whom happy marks combined to bless,
    A miracle of loveliness,
    Of Janak's royal lineage sprung,
    Most excellent of women, clung
    To her dear lord, like Rohiní
    Rejoicing with the Moon to be.
    The King and people, sad of mood,
    The hero's car awhile pursued.
    But when Prince Ráma lighted down
    At Śringavera's pleasant town,
    Where Gangá's holy waters flow,
    He bade his driver turn and go.
    Guha, Nishádas' King, he met,
    And on the farther bank was set.
    Then on from wood to wood they strayed,
    O'er many a stream, through constant shade,
    As Bharadvája bade them, till
    They came to Chitrakúta's hill.
    And Ráma there, with Lakshman's aid,
    A pleasant little cottage made,
    And spent his days with Sítá, dressed
    In coat of bark and deerskin vest.
    And Chitrakúta grew to be
    As bright with those illustrious three
    As Meru's sacred peaks that shine
    With glory, when the Gods recline
    Beneath them: Śiva's self between
    The Lord of Gold and Beauty's Queen.

    The aged King for Ráma pined,
    And for the skies the earth resigned.
    Bharat, his son, refused to reign,
    Though urged by all the twice-born train.
    Forth to the woods he fared to meet
    His brother, fell before his feet,
    And cried "Thy claim all men allow:--
    O come, our lord and King be thou."
    But Ráma nobly chose to be
    Observant of his sire's decree.
    He placed his sandals in his hand,
    A pledge that he would rule the land:--
    And bade his brother turn again.
    Then Bharat, finding prayer was vain,
    The sandals took and went away;
    Nor in Ayodhyá would he stay,
    But turned to Nandigráma, where
    He ruled the realm with watchful care,
    Still longing eagerly to learn
    Tidings of Ráma's safe return.

    Then lest the people should repeat
    Their visit to his calm retreat,
    Away from Chitrakúta's hill
    Fared Ráma, ever onward till
    Beneath the shady trees he stood
    Of Dandaká's primeval wood.
    Virádha, giant fiend, he slew,
    And then Agastya's friendship knew.
    Counselled by him he gained the sword
    And bow of Indra, heavenly lord:--
    A pair of quivers too, that bore
    Of arrows an exhaustless store.
    While there he dwelt in greenwood shade,
    The trembling hermits sought his aid,
    And bade him with his sword and bow
    Destroy the fiends who worked them woe:--
    To come like Indra strong and brave,
    A guardian God to help and save.
    And Ráma's falchion left its trace
    Deep cut on Súrpanakhá's face:--
    A hideous giantess who came
    Burning for him with lawless flame.
    Their sister's cries the giants heard,
    And vengeance in each bosom stirred;
    The monster of the triple head,
    And Dúshan to the contest sped.
    But they and myriad fiends beside
    Beneath the might of Ráma died.

    When Rávan, dreaded warrior, knew
    The slaughter of his giant crew--
    Rávan, the King, whose name of fear
    Earth, hell, and heaven all shook to hear--
    He bade the fiend Márícha aid
    The vengeful plot his fury laid.
    In vain the wise Márícha tried
    To turn him from his course aside:--
    Not Rávan's self, he said, might hope
    With Ráma and his strength to cope.
    Impelled by fate and blind with rage
    He came to Ráma's hermitage.
    There, by Márícha's magic art,
    He wiled the princely youths apart,
    The vulture slew, and bore away
    The wife of Ráma as his prey.
    The son of Raghu came and found
    Jatáyu slain upon the ground.
    He rushed within his leafy cot;
    He sought his wife, but found her not.
    Then, then the hero's senses failed;
    In mad despair he wept and wailed.
    Upon the pile that bird he laid,
    And still in quest of Sítá strayed.
    A hideous giant then he saw,
    Kabandha named, a shape of awe.

    The monstrous fiend he smote and slew,
    And in the flame the body threw;
    When straight from out the funeral flame
    In lovely form Kabandha came,
    And bade him seek in his distress
    A wise and holy hermitess.
    By counsel of this saintly dame
    To Pampá's pleasant flood he came,
    And there the steadfast friendship won
    Of Hanumán the Wind-God's son.
    Counselled by him he told his grief
    To great Sugríva, Vánar chief,
    Who, knowing all the tale, before
    The sacred flame alliance swore.
    Sugríva to his new-found friend
    Told his own story to the end:--
    His hate of Báli for the wrong
    And insult he had borne so long.
    And Ráma lent a willing ear
    And promised to allay his fear.
    Sugríva warned him of the might
    Of Báli, matchless in the fight,
    And, credence for his tale to gain,
    Showed the huge fiend by Báli slain.
    The prostrate corse of mountain size
    Seemed nothing in the hero's eyes;
    He lightly kicked it, as it lay,
    And cast it twenty leagues away.
    To prove his might his arrows through
    Seven palms in line, uninjured, flew.
    He cleft a mighty hill apart,
    And down to hell he hurled his dart.
    Then high Sugríva's spirit rose,
    Assured of conquest o'er his foes.
    With his new champion by his side
    To vast Kishkindhá's cave he hied.
    Then, summoned by his awful shout,
    King Báli came in fury out,
    First comforted his trembling wife,
    Then sought Sugríva in the strife.
    One shaft from Ráma's deadly bow
    The monarch in the dust laid low.
    Then Ráma bade Sugríva reign
    In place of royal Báli slain.
    Then speedy envoys hurried forth
    Eastward and westward, south and north,
    Commanded by the grateful King
    Tidings of Ráma's spouse to bring.
    Then by Sampáti's counsel led,
    Brave Hanumán, who mocked at dread,
    Sprang at one wild tremendous leap
    Two hundred leagues, across the deep.
    To Lanká's[32] town he urged his way,
    Where Rávan held his royal sway.
    There pensive 'neath Aśoka boughs
    He found poor Sítá, Ráma's spouse.
    He gave the hapless girl a ring,
    A token from her lord and King.
    A pledge from her fair hand he bore;
    Then battered down the garden door.
    Five captains of the host he slew,
    Seven sons of councillors o'erthrew;
    Crushed youthful Aksha on the field,
    Then to his captors chose to yield.
    Soon from their bonds his limbs were free,
    But honoring the high decree
    Which Brahmá had pronounced of yore,
    He calmly all their insults bore.
    The town he burnt with hostile flame,
    And spoke again with Ráma's dame,
    Then swiftly back to Ráma flew
    With tidings of the interview.

    Then with Sugríva for his guide,
    Came Ráma to the ocean side.
    He smote the sea with shafts as bright
    As sunbeams in their summer height,
    And quick appeared the River's King
    Obedient to the summoning.
    A bridge was thrown by Nala o'er
    The narrow sea from shore to shore.
    They crossed to Lanká's golden town,
    Where Ráma's hand smote Rávan down.
    Vibhíshan there was left to reign
    Over his brother's wide domain.
    To meet her husband Sítá came;
    But Ráma, stung with ire and shame,
    With bitter words his wife addressed
    Before the crowd that round her pressed.
    But Sítá, touched with noble ire,
    Gave her fair body to the fire.
    Then straight the God of Wind appeared,
    And words from heaven her honor cleared.
    And Ráma clasped his wife again,
    Uninjured, pure from spot and stain,
    Obedient to the Lord of Fire
    And the high mandate of his sire.
    Led by the Lord who rules the sky,
    The Gods and heavenly saints drew nigh,
    And honored him with worthy meed,
    Rejoicing in each glorious deed.
    His task achieved, his foe removed,
    He triumphed, by the Gods approved.
    By grace of Heaven he raised to life
    The chieftains slain in mortal strife;
    Then in the magic chariot through
    The clouds to Nandigráma flew.
    Met by his faithful brothers there,
    He loosed his votive coil of hair;
    Thence fair Ayodhyá's town he gained,
    And o'er his father's kingdom reigned.
    Disease or famine ne'er oppressed
    His happy people, richly blest
    With all the joys of ample wealth,
    Of sweet content and perfect health.
    No widow mourned her well-loved mate,
    No sire his son's untimely fate.
    They feared not storm or robber's hand,
    No fire or flood laid waste the land:
    The Golden Age seemed come again
    To bless the days of Ráma's reign.
    From him the great and glorious King,
    Shall many a princely scion spring.
    And he shall rule, beloved by men,
    Ten thousand years and hundreds ten,
    And when his life on earth is past
    To Brahmá's world shall go at last.

    Whoe'er this noble poem reads
    That tells the tale of Ráma's deeds,
    Good as the Scriptures, he shall be
    From every sin and blemish free.
    Whoever reads the saving strain,
    With all his kin the heavens shall gain.
    Bráhmans who read shall gather hence
    The highest praise for eloquence.
    The warrior, o'er the land shall reign,
    The merchant, luck in trade obtain;
    And Súdras, listening, ne'er shall fail
    To reap advantage from the tale.

[_Cantos II., III., IV., and V. are omitted_.]

[32] Ceylon.



    There reigned a King of name revered,
    To country and to town endeared,
    Great Daśaratha, good and sage,
    Well read in Scripture's holy page:
    Upon his kingdom's weal intent,
    Mighty and brave and provident;
    The pride of old Ikshváku's seed
    For lofty thought and righteous deed.
    Peer of the saints, for virtues famed,
    For foes subdued and passions tamed;
    A rival in his wealth untold
    Of Indra and the Lord of Gold.
    Like Manu first of kings, he reigned,
    And worthily his state maintained.
    For firm and just and ever true
    Love, duty, gain, he kept in view,
    And ruled his city rich and free,
    Like Indra's Amarávatí.
    And worthy of so fair a place
    There dwelt a just and happy race
    With troops of children blest.
    Each man contented sought no more,
    Nor longed with envy for the store
    By richer friends possessed.
    For poverty was there unknown,
    And each man counted as his own
    Kine, steeds, and gold, and grain.
    All dressed in raiment bright and clean,
    And every townsman might be seen
    With ear-rings, wreath or chain.
    None deigned to feed on broken fare,
    And none was false or stingy there.
    A piece of gold, the smallest pay,
    Was earned by labor for a day.
    On every arm were bracelets worn,
    And none was faithless or forsworn,
    A braggart or unkind.
    None lived upon another's wealth,
    None pined with dread or broken health,
    Or dark disease of mind.
    High-souled were all. The slanderous word,
    The boastful lie, were never heard.
    Each man was constant to his vows,
    And lived devoted to his spouse.
    No other love his fancy knew,
    And she was tender, kind, and true.
    Her dames were fair of form and face,
    With charm of wit and gentle grace,
    With modest raiment simply neat,
    And winning manners soft and sweet.
    The twice-born sages, whose delight
    Was Scripture's page and holy rite,
    Their calm and settled course pursued,
    Nor sought the menial multitude.
    In many a Scripture each was versed,
    And each the flame of worship nursed,
    And gave with lavish hand.
    Each paid to Heaven the offerings due,
    And none was godless or untrue
    In all that holy band.
    To Bráhmans, as the laws ordain,
    The Warrior caste were ever fain
    The reverence due to pay;
    And these the Vaiśyas' peaceful crowd,
    Who trade and toil for gain, were proud
    To honor and obey;
    And all were by the Súdras served,
    Who never from their duty swerved.
    Their proper worship all addressed
    To Bráhman, spirits, God, and guest.
    Pure and unmixt their rites remained,
    Their race's honor ne'er was stained.
    Cheered by his grandsons, sons, and wife,
    Each passed a long and happy life.
    Thus was that famous city held
    By one who all his race excelled,
    Blest in his gentle reign,
    As the whole land aforetime swayed
    By Manu, prince of men, obeyed
    Her king from main to main.
    And heroes kept her, strong and brave,
    As lions guard their mountain cave;
    Fierce as devouring flame they burned,
    And fought till death, but never turned.
    Horses had she of noblest breed,
    Like Indra's for their form and speed,
    From Váhli's hills and Sindhu's sand,
    Vanáyu and Kámboja's land.
    Her noble elephants had strayed
    Through Vindhyan and Himálayan shade,
    Gigantic in their bulk and height,
    Yet gentle in their matchless might.
    They rivalled well the world-spread fame
    Of the great stock from which they came,
    Of Váman, vast of size,
    Of Mahápadma's glorious line,
    Thine, Anjan, and, Airávat, thine,
    Upholders of the skies.
    With those, enrolled in fourfold class,
    Who all their mighty kin surpass,
    Whom men Matangas name,
    And Mrigas spotted black and white,
    And Bhadras of unwearied might,
    And Mandras hard to tame.
    Thus, worthy of the name she bore,
    Ayodhyá for a league or more
    Cast a bright glory round,
    Where Daśaratha wise and great
    Governed his fair ancestral state,
    With every virtue crowned.
    Like Indra in the skies he reigned
    In that good town whose wall contained
    High domes and turrets proud,
    With gates and arcs of triumph decked,
    And sturdy barriers to protect
    Her gay and countless crowd.



    Two sages, holy saints, had he,
    His ministers and priests to be:--
    Vaśishtha, faithful to advise,
    And Vámadeva, Scripture-wise.
    Eight other lords around him stood,
    All skilled to counsel, wise and good:--
    Jayanta, Vijay, Dhrishti bold
    In fight, affairs of war controlled;
    Siddhárth and Arthasádhak true
    Watched o'er expense and revenue,
    And Dharmapál and wise Aśok
    Of right and law and justice spoke.
    With these the sage Sumantra, skilled
    To urge the car, high station filled.
    All these in knowledge duly trained
    Each passion and each sense restrained:--
    With modest manners, nobly bred,
    Each plan and nod and look they read,
    Upon their neighbors' good intent,
    Most active and benevolent;
    As sits the Vasus round their King,
    They sate around him counselling.
    They ne'er in virtue's loftier pride
    Another's lowly gifts decried.
    In fair and seemly garb arrayed,
    No weak uncertain plans they made.
    Well skilled in business, fair and just,
    They gained the people's love and trust,
    And thus without oppression stored
    The swelling treasury of their lord.
    Bound in sweet friendship each to each,
    They spoke kind thoughts in gentle speech.
    They looked alike with equal eye
    On every caste, on low and high.
    Devoted to their King, they sought,
    Ere his tongue spoke, to learn his thought,
    And knew, as each occasion rose,
    To hide their counsel or disclose.
    In foreign lands or in their own
    Whatever passed, to them was known.
    By secret spies they timely knew
    What men were doing or would do.
    Skilled in the grounds of war and peace
    They saw the monarch's state increase,
    Watching his weal with conquering eye
    That never let occasion by,
    While nature lent her aid to bless
    Their labors with unbought success.
    Never for anger, lust, or gain,
    Would they their lips with falsehood stain.
    Inclined to mercy they could scan
    The weakness and the strength of man.
    They fairly judged both high and low,
    And ne'er would wrong a guiltless foe;
    Yet if a fault were proved, each one
    Would punish e'en his own dear son.
    But there and in the kingdom's bound
    No thief or man impure was found:--
    None of loose life or evil fame,
    No tempter of another's dame.
    Contented with their lot each caste
    Calm days in blissful quiet passed;
    And, all in fitting tasks employed,
    Country and town deep rest enjoyed.
    With these wise lords around his throne
    The monarch justly reigned,
    And making every heart his own
    The love of all men gained.
    With trusty agents, as beseems,
    Each distant realm he scanned,
    As the sun visits with his beams
    Each corner of the land.
    Ne'er would he on a mightier foe
    With hostile troops advance,
    Nor at an equal strike a blow
    In war's delusive chance.
    These lords in council bore their part
    With ready brain and faithful heart,
    With skill and knowledge, sense and tact,
    Good to advise and bold to act.
    And high and endless fame he won
    With these to guide his schemes--
    As, risen in his might, the sun
    Wins glory with his beams.



    But splendid, just, and great of mind,
    The childless King for offspring pined.
    No son had he his name to grace,
    Transmitter of his royal race.
    Long had his anxious bosom wrought,
    And as he pondered rose the thought:--
    "A votive steed 'twere good to slay,
    So might a son the gift repay."
    Before his lords his plans he laid,
    And bade them with their wisdom aid;
    Then with these words Sumantra, best
    Of royal counsellors, addressed:--
    "Hither, Vaśishtha at their head,
    Let all my priestly guides be led."

    To him Sumantra made reply:--
    "Hear, sire, a tale of days gone by.
    To many a sage in time of old,
    Sanatkumár, the saint, foretold
    How from thine ancient line, O King,
    A son, when years came round, should spring
    'Here dwells,' 'twas thus the seer began,
    'Of Kaśyap's race, a holy man,
    Vibhándak named: to him shall spring
    A son, the famous Rishyaśring.
    Bred with the deer that round him roam,
    The wood shall be that hermit's home.
    To him no mortal shall be known
    Except his holy sire alone.
    Still by those laws shall he abide
    Which lives of youthful Bráhmans guide,
    Obedient to the strictest rule
    That forms the young ascetic's school:
    And all the wondering world shall hear
    Of his stern life and penance drear;
    His care to nurse the holy fire
    And do the bidding of his sire.
    Then, seated on the Angas' throne,
    Shall Lomapád to fame be known.
    But folly wrought by that great King
    A plague upon the land shall bring;
    No rain for many a year shall fall
    And grievous drought shall ruin all.
    The troubled King with many a prayer
    Shall bid the priests some cure declare:--
    "The lore of Heaven 'tis yours to know,
    Nor are ye blind to things below:--
    Declare, O holy men, the way
    This plague to expiate and stay."
    Those best of Bráhmans shall reply:--
    "By every art, O Monarch, try,
    Hither to bring Vibhándak's child,
    Persuaded, captured, or beguiled.
    And when the boy is hither led
    To him thy daughter duly wed."

    But how to bring that wondrous boy
    His troubled thoughts will long employ,
    And hopeless to achieve the task
    He counsel of his lords will ask,
    And bid his priests and servants bring
    With honor saintly Rishyaśring.
    But when they hear the monarch's speech,
    All these their master will beseech,
    With trembling hearts and looks of woe,
    To spare them, for they fear to go.
    And many a plan will they declare
    And crafty plots will frame,
    And promise fair to show him there,
    Unforced, with none to blame.
    On every word his lords shall say,
    The King will meditate,
    And on the third returning day
    Recall them to debate.
    Then this shall be the plan agreed,
    That damsels shall be sent
    Attired in holy hermits' weed,
    And skilled in blandishment,
    That they the hermit may beguile
    With every art and amorous wile
    Whose use they know so well,
    And by their witcheries seduce
    The unsuspecting young recluse
    To leave his father's cell.
    Then when the boy with willing feet
    Shall wander from his calm retreat
    And in that city stand,
    The troubles of the King shall end,
    And streams of blessed rain descend
    Upon the thirsty land.
    Thus shall the holy Rishyaśring
    To Lomapád, the mighty King,
    By wedlock be allied;
    For Śántá, fairest of the fair,
    In mind and grace beyond compare,
    Shall be his royal bride.
    He, at the Offering of the Steed,
    The flames with holy oil shall feed,
    And for King Daśaratha gain
    Sons whom his prayers have begged in vain,'
    I have repeated, sire, thus far,
    The words of old Sanatkumár,
    In order as he spoke them then
    Amid the crowd of holy men."
    Then Daśaratha cried with joy,
    "Say how they brought the hermit boy."



    The wise Sumantra, thus addressed,
    Unfolded at the King's behest
    The plan the lords in council laid
    To draw the hermit from the shade.
    The priest, amid the lordly crowd,
    To Lomapád thus spoke aloud:--
    "Hear, King, the plot our thoughts have framed,
    A harmless trick by all unblamed.
    Far from the world that hermit's child
    Lives lonely in the distant wild:
    A stranger to the joys of sense,
    His bliss is pain and abstinence;
    And all unknown are women yet
    To him, a holy anchoret.
    The gentle passions we will wake
    That with resistless influence shake
    The hearts of men; and he
    Drawn by enchantment strong and sweet
    Shall follow from his lone retreat,
    And come and visit thee.
    Let ships be formed with utmost care
    That artificial trees may bear,
    And sweet fruit deftly made;
    Let goodly raiment, rich and rare,
    And flowers, and many a bird be there
    Beneath the leafy shade.
    Upon the ships thus decked a band
    Of young and lovely girls shall stand,
    Rich in each charm that wakes desire,
    And eyes that burn with amorous fire;
    Well skilled to sing, and play, and dance,
    And ply their trade with smile and glance.
    Let these, attired in hermits' dress,
    Betake them to the wilderness,
    And bring the boy of life austere
    A voluntary captive here,"
    He ended; and the King agreed,
    By the priest's counsel won,
    And all the ministers took heed
    To see his bidding done.
    In ships with wondrous art prepared
    Away the lovely women fared,
    And soon beneath the shade they stood
    Of the wild, lonely, dreary wood.
    And there the leafy cot they found
    Where dwelt the devotee.
    And looked with eager eyes around
    The hermit's son to see.
    Still, of Vibhándak sore afraid,
    They hid behind the creeper's shade.
    But when by careful watch they knew
    The elder saint was far from view,
    With bolder steps they ventured nigh
    To catch the youthful hermit's eye.
    Then all the damsels blithe and gay,
    At various games began to play.
    They tossed the flying ball about
    With dance and song and merry shout,
    And moved, their scented tresses bound
    With wreaths, in mazy motions round.
    Some girls as if by love possessed,
    Sank to the earth in feigned unrest,
    Up-starting quickly to pursue
    Their intermitted game anew.
    It was a lovely sight to see
    Those fair ones, as they played,
    While fragrant robes were floating free,
    And bracelets clashing in their glee
    A pleasant tinkling made.
    The anklet's chime, the Koïl's cry
    With music filled the place,
    As 'twere some city in the sky;
    Which heavenly minstrels grace.
    With each voluptuous art they strove
    To win the tenant of the grove,
    And with their graceful forms inspire
    His modest soul with soft desire.
    With arch of brow, with beck and smile,
    With every passion-waking wile
    Of glance and lotus hand,
    With all enticements that excite
    The longing for unknown delight
    Which boys in vain withstand.
    Forth came the hermit's son to view
    The wondrous sight to him so new,
    And gazed in rapt surprise
    For from his natal hour till then
    On woman or the sons of men
    He ne'er had cast his eyes.
    He saw them with their waists so slim,
    With fairest shape and faultless limb,
    In variegated robes arrayed,
    And sweetly singing as they played.
    Near and more near the hermit drew,
    And watched them at their game,
    And stronger still the impulse grew
    To question whence they came.
    They marked the young ascetic gaze
    With curious eye and wild amaze,
    And sweet the long-eyed damsels sang,
    And shrill their merry laughter rang.
    Then came they nearer to his side,
    And languishing with passion cried:--
    "Whose son, O youth, and who art thou,
    Come suddenly to join us now?
    And why dost thou all lonely dwell
    In the wild wood? We pray thee, tell.
    We wish to know thee, gentle youth;
    Come, tell us, if thou wilt, the truth,"
    He gazed upon that sight he ne'er
    Had seen before, of girls so fair,
    And out of love a longing rose
    His sire and lineage to disclose:--
    "My father," thus he made reply,
    "Is Kaśyap's son, a saint most high,
    Vibhándak styled; from him I came,
    And Rishyaśring he calls my name.
    Our hermit cot is near this place:--
    Come thither, O ye fair of face;
    There be it mine, with honor due,
    Ye gentle youths, to welcome you."

    They heard his speech, and gave consent,
    And gladly to his cottage went.
    Vibhándak's son received them well
    Beneath the shelter of his cell--
    With guest-gift, water for their feet,
    And woodland fruit and roots to eat.
    They smiled and spoke sweet words like these.
    Delighted with his courtesies:--
    "We too have goodly fruit in store,
    Grown on the trees that shade our door;
    Come, if thou wilt, kind Hermit, haste
    The produce of our grove to taste;
    And let, O good Ascetic, first
    This holy water quench thy thirst."
    They spoke, and gave him comfits sweet
    Prepared ripe fruits to counterfeit;
    And many a dainty cate beside,
    And luscious mead their stores supplied.
    The seeming fruits, in taste and look,
    The unsuspecting hermit took,
    For, strange to him, their form beguiled
    The dweller in the lonely wild.
    Then round his neck fair arms were flung,
    And there the laughing damsels clung,
    And pressing nearer and more near
    With sweet lips whispered at his ear;
    While rounded limb and swelling breast
    The youthful hermit softly pressed.
    The pleasing charm of that strange bowl,
    The touch of a tender limb,
    Over his yielding spirit stole
    And sweetly vanquished him--
    But vows, they said, must now be paid;
    They bade the boy farewell,
    And of the aged saint afraid,
    Prepared to leave the dell.
    With ready guile they told him where
    Their hermit dwelling lay;
    Then, lest the sire should find them there,
    Sped by wild paths away.
    They fled and left him there alone
    By longing love possessed;
    And with a heart no more his own
    He roamed about distressed.
    The aged saint came home, to find
    The hermit boy distraught,
    Revolving in his troubled mind
    One solitary thought.
    "Why dost thou not, my son," he cried,
    "Thy due obeisance pay?
    Why do I see thee in the tide
    Of whelming thought to-day?
    A devotee should never wear
    A mien so sad and strange.
    Come, quickly, dearest child, declare
    The reason of the change."
    And Rishyaśring, when questioned thus,
    Made answer in this wise:--
    "O sire, there came to visit us
    Some men with lovely eyes.
    About my neck soft arms they wound
    And kept me tightly held
    To tender breasts so soft and round,
    That strangely heaved and swelled.
    They sing more sweetly as they dance
    Than e'er I heard till now,
    And play with many a sidelong glance
    And arching of the brow."
    "My son," said he, "thus giants roam
    Where holy hermits are,
    And wander round their peaceful home
    Their rites austere to mar.
    I charge thee, thou must never lay
    Thy trust in them, dear boy:--
    They seek thee only to betray,
    And woo but to destroy."
    Thus having warned him of his foes
    That night at home he spent,
    And when the morrow's sun arose
    Forth to the forest went.

    But Rishyaśring with eager pace
    Sped forth and hurried to the place
    Where he those visitants had seen
    Of dainty waist and charming mien.
    When from afar they saw the son
    Of Saint Vibhándak toward them run,
    To meet the hermit boy they hied,
    And hailed him with a smile, and cried:--
    "O come, we pray, dear lord, behold
    Our lovely home of which we told:--
    Due honor there to thee we'll pay,
    And speed thee on thy homeward way."
    Pleased with the gracious words they said
    He followed where the damsels led.
    As with his guides his steps he bent,
    That Bráhman high of worth,
    A flood of rain from heaven sent
    That gladdened all the earth.

    Vibhándak took his homeward road,
    And wearied by the heavy load
    Of roots and woodland fruit he bore
    Entered at last his cottage door.
    Fain for his son he looked around,
    But desolate the cell he found.
    He stayed not then to bathe his feet,
    Though fainting with the toil and heat,
    But hurried forth and roamed about
    Calling the boy with cry and shout.
    He searched the wood, but all in vain;
    Nor tidings of his son could gain.
    One day beyond the forest's bound
    The wandering saint a village found,
    And asked the swains and neatherds there
    Who owned the land so rich and fair,
    With all the hamlets of the plain,
    And herds of kine and fields of grain.
    They listened to the hermit's words,
    And all the guardians of the herds,
    With suppliant hands together pressed,
    This answer to the saint addressed:--
    "The Angas' lord who bears the name
    Of Lomapád, renowned by fame,
    Bestowed these hamlets with their kine
    And all their riches, as a sign
    Of grace, on Rishyaśring; and he
    Vibhándak's son is said to be."
    The hermit with exulting breast
    The mighty will of fate confessed,
    By meditation's eye discerned;
    And cheerful to his home returned.

    A stately ship, at early morn,
    The hermit's son away had borne.
    Loud roared the clouds, as on he sped,
    The sky grew blacker overhead;
    Till, as he reached the royal town,
    A mighty flood of rain came down.
    By the great rain the monarch's mind
    The coming of his guest divined.
    To meet the honored youth he went,
    And low to earth his head he bent.
    With his own priest to lead the train,
    He gave the gift high guests obtain,
    And sought, with all who dwelt within
    The city walls, his grace to win.
    He fed him with the daintiest fare,
    He served him with unceasing care,
    And ministered with anxious eyes
    Lest anger in his breast should rise;
    And gave to be the Bráhman's bride
    His own fair daughter, lotus-eyed.

    Thus loved and honored by the King,
    The glorious Bráhman Rishyaśring
    Passed in that royal town his life
    With Śántá his beloved wife.



    "Again, O best of Kings, give ear:--
    My saving words attentive hear,
    And listen to the tale of old
    By that illustrious Bráhman told.
    'Of famed Ikshváku's line shall spring
    ('Twas thus he spoke) a pious king,
    Named Daśaratha, good and great,
    True to his word and fortunate.
    He with the Angas' mighty lord
    Shall ever live in sweet accord,
    And his a daughter fair shall be,
    Śántá of happy destiny.
    But Lomapád, the Angas' chief,
    Still pining in his childless grief,
    To Daśaratha thus shall say:--
    "Give me thy daughter, friend, I pray,
    Thy Śántá of the tranquil mind,
    The noblest one of womankind."

    The father, swift to feel for woe,
    Shall on his friend his child bestow;
    And he shall take her and depart
    To his own town with joyous heart.
    The maiden home in triumph led,
    To Rishyaśring the King shall wed.
    And he with loving joy and pride
    Shall take her for his honored bride.
    And Daśaratha to a rite
    That best of Bráhmans shall invite
    With supplicating prayer
    To celebrate the sacrifice
    To win him sons and Paradise,
    That he will fain prepare.
    From him the lord of men at length
    The boon he seeks shall gain,
    And see four sons of boundless strength
    His royal line maintain,
    Thus did the godlike saint of old
    The will of fate declare,
    And all that should befall unfold
    Amid the sages there.
    O Prince, supreme of men, go thou,
    Consult thy holy guide,
    And win, to aid thee in thy vow,
    This Bráhman to thy side."

    Sumantra's counsel, wise and good,
    King Daśaratha heard,
    Then by Vaśishtha's side he stood
    And thus with him conferred:--
    "Sumantra counsels thus:--do thou
    My priestly guide, the plan allow."
    Vaśishtha gave his glad consent,
    And forth the happy monarch went
    With lords and servants on the road
    That led to Rishyaśring's abode.
    Forests and rivers duly past,
    He reached the distant town at last--
    Of Lomapád the Angas' King,
    And entered it with welcoming.
    On through the crowded streets he came,
    And, radiant as the kindled flame,
    He saw within the monarch's house
    The hermit's son, most glorious.
    There Lomapád, with joyful breast,
    To him all honor paid,
    For friendship for his royal guest
    His faithful bosom swayed.
    Thus entertained with utmost care
    Seven days, or eight, he tarried there,
    And then that best of men thus broke
    His purpose to the King, and spoke:--

    "O King of men, mine ancient friend,
    (Thus Daśaratha prayed),
    Thy Śántá with her husband send
    My sacrifice to aid."
    Said he who ruled the Angas, "Yea,"
    And his consent was won:--
    And then at once he turned away
    To warn the hermit's son.
    He told him of their ties beyond
    Their old affection's faithful bond:--
    "This King," he said, "from days of old
    A well beloved friend I hold.
    To me this pearl of dames he gave
    From childless woe mine age to save,
    The daughter whom he loved so much,
    Moved by compassion's gentle touch.
    In him thy Śántá's father see:--
    As I am, even so is he.
    For sons the childless monarch yearns,
    To thee alone for help he turns.
    Go thou, the sacred rite ordain
    To win the sons he prays to gain:--
    Go, with thy wife thy succor lend,
    And give his vows a blissful end."

    The hermit's son with quick accord
    Obeyed the Angas' mighty lord,
    And with fair Śántá at his side
    To Daśaratha's city hied.
    Each king, with suppliant hands upheld,
    Gazed on the other's face:--
    And then by mutual love impelled
    Met in a close embrace.
    Then Daśaratha's thoughtful care,
    Before he parted thence,
    Bade trusty servants homeward bear
    The glad intelligence:--
    "Let all the town be bright and gay,
    With burning incense sweet;
    Let banners wave, and water lay
    The dust in every street."
    Glad were the citizens to learn
    The tidings of their lord's return,
    And through the city every man
    Obediently his task began.
    And fair and bright Ayodhyá showed,
    As following his guest he rode
    Through the full streets, where shell and drum
    Proclaimed aloud the King was come.
    And all the people with delight
    Kept gazing on their king,
    Attended by that youth so bright,
    The glorious Rishyaśring.
    When to his home the King had brought
    The hermit's saintly son,
    He deemed that all his task was wrought,
    And all he prayed for won.
    And lords who saw the stranger dame
    So beautiful to view,
    Rejoiced within their hearts, and came
    And paid her honor, too.
    There Rishyaśring passed blissful days,
    Graced like the King with love and praise,
    And shone in glorious light with her,
    Sweet Śántá for his minister,
    As Brahmá's son Vaśishtha, he
    Who wedded Saint Arundhatí.



    The Dewy Season came and went;
    The spring returned again--
    Then would the King, with mind intent,
    His sacrifice ordain.
    He came to Rishyaśring, and bowed
    To him of look divine,
    And bade him aid his offering vowed
    For heirs, to save his line.
    Nor would the youth his aid deny,
    He spake the monarch fair,
    And prayed him for that rite so high
    All requisites prepare.
    The King to wise Sumantra cried
    Who stood aye ready near;
    "Go summon quick, each holy guide,
    To counsel and to hear,"
    Obedient to his lord's behest
    Away Sumantra sped,
    And brought Vaśishtha and the rest,
    In Scripture deeply read.
    Suyajńa, Vámadeva came,
    Jáváli, Kaśyap's son,
    And old Vaśishtha, dear to fame,
    Obedient, every one.
    King Daśaratha met them there
    And duly honored each,
    And spoke in pleasant words his fair
    And salutary speech:--
    "In childless longing doomed to pine,
    No happiness, O lords, is mine.
    So have I for this cause decreed
    To slay the sacrificial steed.
    Fain would I pay that offering high
    Wherein the horse is doomed to die,
    With Rishyaśring his aid to lend,
    And with your glory to befriend."

    With loud applause each holy man
    Received his speech, approved the plan,
    And, by the wise Vaśishtha led,
    Gave praises to the King, and said:--
    "The sons thou cravest shalt thou see,
    Of fairest glory, born to thee,
    Whose holy feelings bid thee take
    This righteous course for offspring's sake."
    Cheered by the ready praise of those
    Whose aid he sought, his spirits rose--
    And thus the King his speech renewed
    With looks of joy and gratitude:--
    "Let what the coming rites require
    Be ready, as the priests desire,
    And let the horse, ordained to bleed,
    With fitting guard and priest, be freed.
    Yonder on Sarjú's northern side
    The sacrificial ground provide;
    And let the saving rites, that nought
    Ill-omened may occur, be wrought.
    The offering I announce to-day
    Each lord of earth may claim to pay,
    Provided that his care can guard
    The holy rite by flaws unmarred.
    For wandering fiends, whose watchful spite
    Waits eagerly to spoil each rite--
    Hunting with keenest eye detect
    The slightest slip, the least neglect;
    And when the sacred work is crossed
    The workman is that moment lost.
    Let preparation due be made,
    Your powers the charge can meet,
    That so the noble rite be paid
    In every point complete."
    And all the Bráhmans answered, "Yea,"
    His mandate honoring,
    And gladly promised to obey
    The order of the King.
    They cried with voices raised aloud:--
    "Success attend thine aim!"
    Then bade farewell, and lowly bowed,
    And hastened whence they came.
    King Daśaratha went within,
    His well-loved wives to see--
    And said: "Your lustral rites begin,
    For these shall prosper me.
    A glorious offering I prepare
    That precious fruit of sons may bear."
    Their lily faces brightened fast
    Those pleasant words to hear,
    As lilies, when the winter's past,
    In lovelier hues appear.



    Again the spring with genial heat
    Returning made the year complete.
    To win him sons, without delay
    His vow the King resolved to pay--
    And to Vaśishtha, saintly man,
    In modest words this speech began:--
    "Prepare the rite with all things fit
    As is ordained in Holy Writ,
    And keep with utmost care afar
    Whate'er its sacred forms might mar.
    Thou art, my lord, my trustiest guide,
    Kind-hearted, and my friend beside;
    So is it meet thou undertake
    This heavy task for duty's sake."

    Then he, of twice-born men the best,
    His glad assent at once expressed:--
    "Fain will I do whatever may be
    Desired, O honored King, by thee."
    To ancient priests he spoke, who, trained
    In holy rites, deep skill had gained:--
    "Here guards be stationed, good and sage,
    Religious men of trusted age.
    And various workmen send and call,
    Who frame the door and build the wall--
    With men of every art and trade,
    Who read the stars and ply the spade,
    And mimes and minstrels hither bring,
    And damsels trained to dance and sing."
    Then to the learned men he said,
    In many a page of Scripture read:--
    "Be yours each rite performed to see
    According to the King's decree.
    And stranger Bráhmans quickly call
    To this great rite that welcomes all.
    Pavilions for the princes, decked
    With art and ornament, erect,
    And handsome booths by thousands made
    The Bráhman visitors to shade--
    Arranged in order side by side,
    With meat and drink and all supplied.
    And ample stables we shall need
    For many an elephant and steed--
    And chambers where the men may lie,
    And vast apartments, broad and high,
    Fit to receive the countless bands
    Of warriors come from distant lands.
    For our own people too provide
    Sufficient tents, extended wide,
    And stores of meat and drink prepare,
    And all that can be needed there.
    And food in plenty must be found
    For guests from all the country round.
    Of various viands presents make,
    For honor, not for pity's sake,
    That fit regard and worship be
    Paid to each caste in due degree.
    And let not wish or wrath excite
    Your hearts the meanest guest to slight;
    But still observe with special grace
    Those who obtain the foremost place,
    Whether for happier skill in art
    Or bearing in the rite their part
    Do you, I pray, with friendly mind
    Perform the task to you assigned,
    And work the rite, as bids the law,
    Without omission, slip, or flaw."

    They answered: "As thou seest fit
    So will we do and nought omit."
    The sage Vaśishtha then addressed
    Sumantra, called at his behest:--
    "The princes of the earth invite,
    And famous lords who guard the rite,
    Priest, Warrior, Merchant, lowly thrall,
    In countless thousands summon all.
    Where'er their home be, far or near,
    Gather the good with honor here.
    And Janak, whose imperial sway
    The men of Mithilá obey,
    The firm of vow, the dread of foes,
    Who all the lore of Scripture knows,
    Invite him here with honor high,
    King Daśaratha's old ally.
    And Káśi's lord of gentle speech,
    Who finds a pleasant word for each--
    In length of days our monarch's peer,
    Illustrious King, invite him here.
    The father of our ruler's bride,
    Known for his virtues far and wide,
    The King whom Kekaya's realms obey,
    Him with his son invite, I pray.
    And Lomapád, the Angas King,
    True to his vows and godlike, bring.
    Far be thine invitations sent
    To west and south and orient.
    Call those who rule Suráshtra's land,
    Suvíra's realm and Sindhu's strand,
    And all the kings of earth beside
    In friendship's bonds with us allied:--
    Invite them all to hasten in
    With retinue and kith and kin."
    Vaśishtha's speech without delay
    Sumantra bent him to obey,
    And sent his trusty envoys forth
    Eastward and westward, south and north.
    Obedient to the saint's request
    Himself he hurried forth, and pressed
    Each nobler chief and lord and king
    To hasten to the gathering.
    Before the saint Vaśishtha stood
    All those who wrought with stone and wood,
    And showed the work which every one
    In furtherance of the rite had done.
    Rejoiced their ready zeal to see,
    Thus to the craftsmen all said he:--
    "I charge ye, masters, see to this,
    That there be nothing done amiss.
    And this, I pray, in mind be borne,
    That not one gift ye give in scorn;
    Whenever scorn a gift attends
    Great sin is his who thus offends."

    And now some days and nights had passed,
    And Kings began to gather fast,
    And precious gems in liberal store
    As gifts to Daśaratha bore.
    Then joy thrilled through Vaśishtha's breast
    As thus the monarch he addressed:--
    "Obedient to thy high decree
    The Kings, my lord, are come to thee.
    And it has been my care to greet
    And honor all with reverence meet.
    Thy servants' task is ended quite,
    And all is ready for the rite.
    Come forth then to the sacred ground
    Where all in order will be found."
    Then Rishyaśring confirmed the tale:--
    Nor did their words to move him fail.
    The stars propitious influence lent
    When forth the world's great ruler went.
    Then by the sage Vaśishtha led,
    The priest began to speed
    Those glorious rites wherein is shed
    The lifeblood of the steed.



    The circling year had filled its course,
    And back was brought the wandering horse:--
    Then upon Sarjú's northern strand
    Began the rite the King had planned.
    With Rishyaśring the forms to guide,
    The Bráhmans to their task applied,
    At that great offering of the steed
    Their lofty-minded King decreed.
    The priests, who all the Scripture knew,
    Performed their part in order due,
    And circled round in solemn train
    As precepts of the law ordain.
    Pravargya rites were duly sped:--
    For Upasads the flames were fed.
    Then from the plant the juice was squeezed,
    And those high saints, with minds well pleased,
    Performed the mystic rites begun
    With bathing ere the rise of sun.
    They gave the portion, Indra's claim,
    And hymned the King whom none can blame.
    The mid-day bathing followed next,
    Observed as bids the holy text.
    Then the good priests with utmost care,
    In form that Scripture's rules declare,
    For the third time pure water shed
    On high-souled Daśaratha's head.
    Then Rishyaśring and all the rest
    To Indra and the Gods addressed
    Their sweet-toned hymn of praise and prayer,
    And called them in the rite to share.
    With sweetest song and hymn intoned
    They gave the Gods in heaven enthroned,
    As duty bids, the gifts they claim,
    The holy oil that feeds the flame.
    And many an offering there was paid,
    And not one slip in all was made.
    For with most careful heed they saw
    That all was done by Veda law.
    None, all those days, was seen oppressed
    By hunger or by toil distressed.
    Why speak of human kind? No beast
    Was there that lacked an ample feast.
    For there was store for all who came,
    For orphan child and lonely dame;
    The old and young were well supplied,
    The poor and hungry satisfied.
    Throughout the day ascetics fed,
    And those who roam to beg their bread:--
    While all around the cry was still,
    "Give forth, give forth," and "Eat your fill."
    "Give forth with liberal hand the meal,
    And various robes in largess deal."

    Urged by these cries on every side
    Unweariedly their task they plied,
    And heaps of food like hills in size
    In boundless plenty met the eyes:--
    And lakes of sauce, each day renewed,
    Refreshed the weary multitude.
    And strangers there from distant lands,
    And women folk in crowded bands
    The best of food and drink obtained
    At the great rite the King ordained.
    Apart from all, the Bráhmans there,
    Thousands on thousands, took their share
    Of various dainties sweet to taste,
    On plates of gold and silver placed--
    All ready set, as, when they willed,
    The twice-born men their places filled.
    And servants in fair garments dressed
    Waited upon each Bráhman guest.

    Of cheerful mind and mien were they,
    With gold and jewelled ear-rings gay.
    The best of Bráhmans praised the fare
    Of countless sorts, of flavor rare--
    And thus to Raghu's son they cried:--
    "We bless thee, and are satisfied."
    Between the rites some Bráhmans spent
    The time in learned argument,
    With ready flow of speech, sedate,
    And keen to vanquish in debate.
    There day by day the holy train
    Performed all rites as rules ordain.
    No priest in all that host was found
    But kept the vows that held him bound;
    None, but the holy Vedas knew,
    And all their sixfold science too.
    No Bráhman there was found unfit
    To speak with eloquence and wit.

    And now the appointed time came near
    The sacrificial posts to rear.
    They brought them, and prepared to fix
    Of Bel and Khádir six and six;
    Six, made of the Paláśa-tree,
    Of Fig-wood one, apart to be--
    Of Sleshmát and of Devadár
    One column each, the mightiest far:--
    So thick the two the arms of man
    Their ample girth would fail to span.
    All these with utmost care were wrought
    By hand of priests in Scripture taught,
    And all with gold were gilded bright
    To add new splendor to the rite;
    Twenty-and-one those stakes in all,
    Each one-and-twenty cubits tall:--
    And one-and-twenty ribbons there
    Hung on the pillars bright and fair.
    Firm in the earth they stood at last,
    Where cunning craftsmen fixed them fast;
    And there unshaken each remained,
    Octagonal and smoothly planed.

    Then ribbons over all were hung,
    And flowers and scent around them flung.
    Thus decked they cast a glory forth
    Like the great saints who star the north.
    The sacrificial altar then
    Was raised by skilful twice-born men--
    In shape and figure to behold
    An eagle with his wings of gold,
    With twice nine pits and formed threefold.
    Each for some special God, beside
    The pillars were the victims tied;
    The birds that roam the wood, the air,
    The water, and the land were there,
    And snakes and things of reptile birth,
    And healing herbs that spring from earth:--
    As texts prescribe, in Scripture found,
    Three hundred victims there were bound.
    The steed devoted to the host
    Of Gods, the gem they honor most,
    Was duly sprinkled. Then the Queen
    Kauśalyá, with delighted mien,
    With reverent steps around him paced,
    And with sweet wreaths the victim graced;
    Then with three swords in order due
    She smote the steed with joy, and slew.
    That night the queen, a son to gain,
    With calm and steady heart was fain
    By the dead charger's side to stay
    From evening till the break of day.
    Then came three priests, their care to lead
    The other queens to touch the steed--
    Upon Kauśalyá to attend,
    Their company and aid to lend.
    As by the horse she still reclined,
    With happy mien and cheerful mind,
    With Rishyaśring the twice-born came
    And praised and blessed the royal dame.
    The priest who well his duty knew,
    And every sense could well subdue,
    From out the bony chambers freed
    And boiled the marrow of the steed.
    Above the steam the monarch bent,
    And, as he smelt the fragrant scent,
    In time and order drove afar
    All error, that his hopes could mar.
    Then sixteen priests together came,
    And cast into the sacred flame
    The severed members of the horse,
    Made ready all in ordered course.
    On piles of holy Fig-tree raised
    The meaner victims' bodies blazed:--
    The steed, of all the creatures slain,
    Alone required a pile of cane.
    Three days, as is by law decreed,
    Lasted that Offering of the Steed.
    The Chatushtom began the rite,
    And when the sun renewed his light,
    The Ukthya followed--after came
    The Atirátra's holy flame.
    These were the rites, and many more,
    Arranged by light of holy lore,
    The Aptoryám of mighty power,
    And, each performed in proper hour,
    The Abhijit and Viśvajit
    With every form and service fit;
    And with the sacrifice at night
    The Jyotishtom and Áyus rite.

    The task was done, as laws prescribe:--
    The monarch, glory of his tribe,
    Bestowed the land in liberal grants
    Upon the sacred ministrants.
    He gave the region of the east,
    His conquest, to the Hotri priest.
    The west the celebrant obtained,
    The south the priest presiding gained--
    The northern region was the share
    Of him who chanted forth the prayer.
    Thus did each priest obtain his meed
    At the great Slaughter of the Steed,
    Ordained, the best of all to be,
    By self-existent deity.

    Ikshváku's son, with joyful mind,
    This noble fee to each assigned--
    But all the priests with one accord
    Addressed that unpolluted lord:--
    "'Tis thine alone to keep the whole
    Of this broad earth in firm control.
    No gift of lands from thee we seek,
    To guard these realms our hands were weak.
    On sacred lore our days are spent,
    Let other gifts our wants content."

    The chief of old Ikshváku's line
    Gave them ten hundred thousand kine,
    A hundred millions of fine gold,
    The same in silver four times told.
    But every priest in presence there
    With one accord resigned his share.
    To Saint Vaśishtha, high of soul,
    And Rishyaśring they gave the whole.
    That largess pleased those Bráhmans well,
    Who bade the prince his wishes tell.
    Then Daśaratha, mighty King,
    Made answer thus to Rishyaśring:--
    "O holy Hermit, of thy grace,
    Vouchsafe the increase of my race."
    He spoke; nor was his prayer denied--
    The best of Bráhmans thus replied:--
    "Four sons, O Monarch, shall be thine,
    Upholders of thy royal line."



    The saint, well-read in holy lore,
    Pondered awhile his answer o'er,
    And thus again addressed the King,
    His wandering thoughts regathering:--
    "Another rite will I begin
    Which shall the sons thou cravest win,
    Where all things shall be duly sped
    And first Atharva texts be read."

    Then by Vibhándak's gentle son
    Was that high sacrifice begun,
    The King's advantage seeking still
    And zealous to perform his will.
    Now all the Gods had gathered there,
    Each one for his allotted share--
    Brahmá, the ruler of the sky,
    Sthánu, Náráyan, Lord most high,
    And holy Indra men might view
    With Maruts for his retinue;
    The heavenly chorister, and saint,
    And spirit pure from earthly taint,
    With one accord had sought the place
    The high-souled monarch's rite to grace,
    Then to the Gods who came to take
    Their proper share, the hermit spake:--
    "For you has Daśaratha slain
    The votive steed, a son to gain;
    Stern penance-rites the King has tried,
    And in firm faith on you relied,
    And now with undiminished care
    A second rite would fain prepare.
    But, O ye Gods, consent to grant
    The longing of your supplicant.
    For him beseeching hands I lift,
    And pray you all to grant the gift,
    That four fair sons of high renown
    The offerings of the King may crown."
    They to the hermit's son replied:--
    "His longing shall be gratified.
    For, Bráhman, in most high degree
    We love the King and honor thee."

    These words the Gods in answer said,
    And vanished thence, by Indra led.
    Thus to the Lord, the worlds who made,
    The Immortals all assembled prayed:--
    "O Brahmá, mighty by thy grace,
    Rávan, who rules the giant race,
    Torments us in his senseless pride,
    And penance-loving saints beside.
    For thou well pleased in days of old
    Gavest the boon that makes him bold,
    That God nor demon e'er should kill
    His charmed life, for so thy will.
    We, honoring that high behest,
    Bear all his rage though sore distressed.
    That lord of giants fierce and fell
    Scourges the earth and heaven and hell.
    Mad with thy boon, his impious rage
    Smites saint and bard and God and sage.
    The sun himself withholds his glow,
    The wind in fear forbears to blow;
    The fire restrains his wonted heat
    Where stand the dreaded Rávan's feet,
    And, necklaced with the wandering wave,
    The sea before him fears to rave.
    Kuvera's self in sad defeat
    Is driven from his blissful seat.
    We see, we feel the giant's might,
    And woe comes o'er us and affright.
    To thee, O Lord, thy suppliants pray
    To find some cure this plague to stay."

    Thus by the gathered Gods addressed
    He pondered in his secret breast,
    And said: "One only way I find
    To slay this fiend of evil mind.
    He prayed me once his life to guard
    From demon, God, and heavenly bard,
    And spirits of the earth and air,
    And I consenting heard his prayer.
    But the proud giant in his scorn
    Recked not of man of woman born.
    None else may take his life away,
    But only man the fiend may slay."

    The Gods, with Indra at their head,
    Rejoiced to hear the words he said.
    Then, crowned with glory like a flame,
    Lord Vishnu to the council came;
    His hands shell, mace, and discus bore,
    And saffron were the robes he wore.
    Riding his eagle through the crowd,
    As the sun rides upon a cloud,
    With bracelets of fine gold, he came,
    Loud welcomed by the Gods' acclaim.
    His praise they sang with one consent,
    And cried, in lowly reverence bent:--
    "O Lord whose hand fierce Madhu slew,
    Be thou our refuge, firm and true;
    Friend of the suffering worlds art thou,
    We pray thee help thy suppliants now."
    Then Vishnu spake: "Ye Gods, declare,
    What may I do to grant your prayer?"

    "King Daśaratha," thus cried they,
    "Fervent in penance many a day,
    The sacrificial steed has slain,
    Longing for sons, but all in vain.
    Now, at the cry of us forlorn,
    Incarnate as his seed be born.
    Three queens has he--each lovely dame
    Like Beauty, Modesty, or Fame.
    Divide thyself in four, and be
    His offspring by these noble three.
    Man's nature take, and slay in fight
    Rávan who laughs at heavenly might--
    This common scourge, this rankling thorn
    Whom the three worlds too long have borne.
    For Rávan, in the senseless pride
    Of might unequalled, has defied
    The host of heaven, and plagues with woe
    Angel and bard and saint below,
    Crushing each spirit and each maid
    Who plays in Nandan's heavenly shade.
    O conquering Lord, to thee we bow;
    Our surest hope and trust art thou.
    Regard the world of men below,
    And slay the God's tremendous foe."

    When thus the suppliant Gods had prayed,
    His wise reply Náráyan made:--
    "What task demands my presence there,
    And when this dread, ye Gods declare."
    The Gods replied: "We fear, O Lord,
    Fierce Rávan, ravener abhorred.
    Be thine the glorious task, we pray,
    In human form this fiend to slay.
    By thee of all the Blest alone
    This sinner may be overthrown.
    He gained by penance long and dire
    The favor of the mighty Sire.
    Then He who every gift bestows
    Guarded the fiend from heavenly foes,
    And gave a pledge his life that kept
    From all things living, man except.
    On him thus armed no other foe
    Than man may deal the deadly blow.
    Assume, O King, a mortal birth,
    And strike the demon to the earth."

    Then Vishnu, God of Gods, the Lord
    Supreme by all the worlds adored,
    To Brahmá and the suppliants spake:--
    "Dismiss your fear: for your dear sake
    In battle will I smite him dead,
    The cruel fiend, the Immortal's dread.
    And lords and ministers and all
    His kith and kin with him shall fall.
    Then, in the world of mortal men,
    Ten thousand years and hundreds ten
    I as a human King will reign,
    And guard the earth as my domain."
    God, saint, and nymph, and minstrel throng
    With heavenly voices raised their song
    In hymns of triumph to the God
    Whose conquering feet on Madhu trod:---

    "Champion of Gods, as man appear,
    This cruel Rávan slay,
    The thorn that saints and hermits fear,
    The plague that none can stay.
    In savage fury uncontrolled
    His pride forever grows--
    He dares the Lord of Gods to hold
    Among his deadly foes."



    When wisest Vishnu thus had given
    His promise to the Gods of heaven,
    He pondered in his secret mind
    A suited place of birth to find.
    Then he decreed, the lotus-eyed,
    In four his being to divide,
    And Daśaratha, gracious King,
    He chose as sire from whom to spring.
    That childless prince, of high renown,
    Who smote in war his foemen down,
    At that same time with utmost care
    Prepared the rite that wins an heir.
    Then Vishnu, fain on earth to dwell,
    Bade the Almighty Sire farewell,
    And vanished while a reverent crowd
    Of Gods and saints in worship bowed.

    The monarch watched the sacred rite,
    When a vast form of awful might,
    Of matchless splendor, strength and size
    Was manifest before his eyes.
    From forth the sacrificial flame,
    Dark, robed in red, the being came.
    His voice was drumlike, loud and low,
    His face suffused with rosy glow.
    Like a huge lion's mane appeared
    The long locks of his hair and beard.
    He shone with many a lucky sign,
    And many an ornament divine;
    A towering mountain in his height,
    A tiger in his gait and might.

    No precious mine more rich could be,
    No burning flame more bright than he.
    His arms embraced in loving hold,
    Like a dear wife, a vase of gold
    Whose silver lining held a draught
    Of nectar as in heaven is quaffed--
    A vase so vast, so bright to view,
    They scarce could count the vision true.
    Upon the King his eyes he bent,
    And said: "The Lord of life has sent
    His servant down, O Prince, to be
    A messenger from heaven to thee."
    The King with all his nobles by
    Raised reverent hands and made reply:--
    "Welcome, O glorious being! Say
    How can my care thy grace repay,"
    Envoy of Him whom all adore,
    Thus to the King he spake once more:--
    "The Gods accept thy worship--they
    Give thee the blessed fruit to-day.
    Approach and take, O glorious King,
    This heavenly nectar which I bring,
    For it shall give thee sons and wealth,
    And bless thee with a store of health.
    Give it to those fair queens of thine,
    And bid them quaff the drink divine--
    And they the princely sons shall bear
    Long sought by sacrifice and prayer."

    "Yea, O my lord," the monarch said,
    And took the vase upon his head,
    The gift of Gods, of fine gold wrought,
    With store of heavenly liquor fraught.
    He honored, filled with transport new,
    That wondrous being, fair to view,
    As round the envoy of the God
    With reverential steps he trod.
    His errand done, that form of light
    Arose and vanished from the sight.
    High rapture filled the monarch's soul,
    Possessed of that celestial bowl,
    As when a man by want distressed
    With unexpected wealth is blest.
    And rays of transport seemed to fall
    Illuminating bower and hall,
    As when the autumn moon rides high,
    And floods with lovely light the sky.
    Quick to the ladies' bower he sped,
    And thus to Queen Kauśalyá said:--
    "This genial nectar take and quaff,"
    He spoke, and gave the lady half.
    Part of the nectar that remained
    Sumitrá from his hand obtained.
    He gave, to make her fruitful too,
    Kaikeyí half the residue.
    A portion yet remaining there,
    He paused awhile to think,
    Then gave Sumitrá, with her share,
    The remnant of the drink.
    Thus on each queen of those fair three
    A part the King bestowed,
    And with sweet hope a child to see
    Their yearning bosoms glowed.
    The heavenly bowl the King supplied
    Their longing souls relieved,
    And soon, with rapture and with pride,
    Each royal dame conceived.
    He gazed upon each lady's face,
    And triumphed as he gazed.
    As Indra in his royal place
    By Gods and spirits praised.



    When Vishnu thus had gone on earth,
    From the great King to take his birth,
    The self-existent Lord of all
    Addressed the Gods who heard his call:--
    "For Vishnu's sake, the strong and true,
    Who seeks the good of all of you,
    Make helps, in war to lend him aid,
    In forms that change at will, arrayed,
    Of wizard skill and hero might,
    Outstrippers of the wind in flight,
    Skilled in the arts of counsel, wise,
    And Vishnu's peers in bold emprise;
    With heavenly arts and prudence fraught,
    By no devices to be caught;
    Skilled in all weapons' lore and use
    As they who drink the immortal juice.
    And let the nymphs supreme in grace,
    And maidens of the minstrel race,
    Monkeys and snakes, and those who rove
    Free spirits of the hill and grove,
    And wandering Daughters of the Air,
    In monkey form brave children bear.
    So erst the lord of bears I shaped,
    Born from my mouth as wide I gaped."

    Thus by the mighty Sire addressed
    They all obeyed his high behest,
    And thus begot in countless swarms
    Brave sons disguised in sylvan forms.
    Each God, each sage became a sire,
    Each minstrel of the heavenly choir.
    Each faun, of children strong and good
    Whose feet should roam the hill and wood.
    Snakes, bards, and spirits, serpents bold
    Had sons too numerous to be told.
    Báli, the woodland hosts who led,
    High as Mahendra's lofty head,
    Was Indra's child. That noblest fire,
    The Sun, was great Sugríva's sire.
    Tára, the mighty monkey, he
    Was offspring of Vrihaspati--
    Tára the matchless chieftain, boast
    For wisdom of the Vánar host.
    Of Gandhamádan brave and bold
    The father was the Lord of Gold.
    Nala the mighty, dear to fame,
    Of skilful Viśvakarmá came.
    From Agni, Níla bright as flame,
    Who in his splendor, might, and worth,
    Surpassed the sire who gave him birth.
    The heavenly Aśvins, swift and fair,
    Were fathers of a noble pair,
    Who, Dwivida and Mainda named,
    For beauty like their sires were famed.
    Varun was father of Sushen,
    Of Śarabh, he who sends the rain.
    Hanumán, best of monkey kind,
    Was son of him who breathes the wind--
    Like thunderbolt in frame was he,
    And swift as Garud's self could flee.
    These thousands did the Gods create
    Endowed with might that none could mate,
    In monkey forms that changed at will--
    So strong their wish the fiend to kill.
    In mountain size, like lions thewed,
    Up-sprang the wondrous multitude,
    Auxiliar hosts in every shape,
    Monkey and bear and highland ape.
    In each the strength, the might, the mien
    Of his own parent God were seen.
    Some chiefs of Vánar mothers came,
    Some of she-bear and minstrel dame,
    Skilled in all arms in battle's shock,
    The brandished tree, the loosened rock;
    And prompt, should other weapons fail,
    To fight and slay with tooth and nail.
    Their strength could shake the hills amain.
    And rend the rooted trees in twain,
    Disturb with their impetuous sweep
    The Rivers' Lord, the Ocean deep,
    Rend with their feet the seated ground,
    And pass wide floods with airy bound--
    Or forcing through the sky their way
    The very clouds by force could stay.
    Mad elephants that wander through
    The forest wilds, could they subdue,
    And with their furious shout could scare
    Dead upon earth the birds of air.
    So were the sylvan chieftains formed;
    Thousands on thousands still they swarmed.
    These were the leaders honored most,
    The captains of the Vánar host,
    And to each lord and chief and guide
    Was monkey offspring born beside.
    Then by the bears' great monarch stood
    The other roamers of the wood,
    And turned, their pathless homes to seek,
    To forest and to mountain peak.
    The leaders of the monkey band
    By the two brothers took their stand,
    Sugríva, offspring of the Sun,
    And Báli, Indra's mighty one.
    They both endowed with Garud's might,
    And skilled in all the arts of fight,
    Wandered in arms the forest through,
    And lions, snakes, and tigers, slew.
    But every monkey, ape, and bear
    Ever was Báli's special care;
    With his vast strength and mighty arm
    He kept them from all scathe and harm.
    And so the earth with hill, wood, seas,
    Was filled with mighty ones like these--
    Of various shape and race and kind,
    With proper homes to each assigned.
    With Ráma's champions fierce and strong
    The earth was overspread,
    High as the hills and clouds, a throng
    With bodies vast and dread.



    Now when the high-souled monarch's rite,
    The Aśvamedh, was finished quite,
    Their sacrificial dues obtained,
    The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
    The lofty-minded saints withdrew,
    Each to his place, with honor due,
    And kings and chieftains, one and all,
    Who came to grace the festival.
    And Daśaratha, ere they went,
    Addressed them thus benevolent:--
    "Now may you, each with joyful heart,
    To your own realms, O Kings, depart.
    Peace and good luck attend you there,
    And blessing, is my friendly prayer;
    Let cares of state each mind engage
    To guard his royal heritage.
    A monarch from his throne expelled
    No better than the dead is held.
    So he who cares for power and might
    Must guard his realm and royal right.
    Such care a meed in heaven will bring
    Better than rites and offering.
    Such care a king his country owes
    As man upon himself bestows,
    When for his body he provides
    Raiment and every need besides.
    For future days should kings foresee,
    And keep the present error-free."
    Thus did the King the kings exhort--
    They heard, and turned them from the court,
    And, each to each in friendship bound,
    Went forth to all the realms around.
    The rites were o'er, the guests were sped,
    The train the best of Bráhmans led--
    In which the King with joyful soul,
    With his dear wives, and with the whole
    Of his imperial host and train
    Of cars and servants turned again,
    And, as a monarch dear to fame,
    Within his royal city came.

    Next, Rishyaśring, well-honored sage,
    And Śántá, sought their hermitage.
    The King himself, of prudent mind,
    Attended him, with troops behind,
    And all her men the town outpoured
    With Saint Vaśishtha and their lord.
    High mounted on a car of state,
    O'ercanopied fair Śántá sate,
    Drawn by white oxen, while a band
    Of servants marched on either hand.
    Great gifts of countless price she bore,
    With sheep and goats and gems in store.
    Like Beauty's self the lady shone
    With all the jewels she had on,
    As, happy in her sweet content,
    Peerless amid the fair she went.
    Not Queen Paulomí's self could be
    More loving to her lord than she.
    She who had lived in happy ease,
    Honored with all her heart could please,
    While dames and kinsfolk ever vied
    To see her wishes gratified--
    Soon as she knew her husband's will
    Again to seek the forest, still
    Was ready for the hermit's cot,
    Nor murmured at her altered lot.
    The King attended to the wild
    That hermit and his own dear child,
    And in the centre of a throng
    Of noble courtiers rode along.
    The sage's son had let prepare
    A lodge within the wood, and there
    Awhile they lingered blithe and gay,
    Then, duly honored, went their way.
    The glorious hermit Rishyaśring
    Drew near and thus besought the King:--
    "Return, my honored lord, I pray,
    Return, upon thy homeward way."
    The monarch, with the waiting crowd,
    Lifted his voice and wept aloud,
    And with eyes dripping still to each
    Of his good queens he spake this speech:--
    "Kauśalyá and Sumitrá dear,
    And thou, my sweet Kaikeyí, hear--
    All upon Śántá feast your gaze,
    The last time for a length of days."
    To 'Śántá's side the ladies leapt,
    And hung about her neck and wept,
    And cried, "O, happy be the life
    Of this great Bráhman and his wife.
    The Wind, the Fire, the Moon on high,
    The Earth, the Streams, the circling Sky,
    Preserve thee in the wood, true spouse,
    Devoted to thy husband's vows.
    And O dear Śántá, ne'er neglect
    To pay the dues of meek respect
    To the great saint, thy husband's sire,
    With all observance and with fire.
    And, sweet one, pure of spot and blame.
    Forget not thou thy husband's claim;
    In every change, in good and ill,
    Let thy sweet words delight him still,
    And let thy worship constant be--
    Her lord is woman's deity.
    To learn thy welfare, dearest friend,
    The King will many a Bráhman send.
    Let happy thoughts thy spirit cheer,
    And be not troubled, daughter dear."

    These soothing words the ladies said,
    And pressed their lips upon her head,
    Each gave with sighs her last adieu,
    Then at the King's command withdrew.
    The King around the hermit went
    With circling footsteps reverent,
    And placed at Rishyaśring's command
    Some soldiers of his royal band.
    The Bráhman bowed in turn and cried,
    "May fortune never leave thy side.
    O mighty King, with justice reign,
    And still thy people's love retain."
    He spoke, and turned away his face,
    And, as the hermit went,
    The monarch, rooted to the place,
    Pursued with eyes intent.
    But when the sage had passed from view
    King Daśaratha turned him too,
    Still fixing on his friend each thought,
    With such deep love his breast was fraught.
    Amid his people's loud acclaim
    Home to his royal seat he came,
    And lived delighted there--
    Expecting when each queenly dame,
    Upholder of his ancient fame,
    Her promised son should bear.
    The glorious sage his way pursued
    Till close before his eyes he viewed
    Sweet Champá, Lomapád's fair town,
    Wreathed with her Champac's leafy crown.
    Soon as the saint's approach he knew,
    The King, to yield him honor due,
    Went forth to meet him with a band
    Of priests and nobles of the land:--
    "Hail, Sage," he cried, "O joy to me!
    What bliss it is, my lord, to see
    Thee with thy wife and all thy train
    Returning to my town again.
    Thy father, honored Sage, is well,
    Who hither from his woodland cell
    Has sent full many a messenger
    For tidings both of thee and her."
    Then joyfully, for due respect,
    The monarch bade the town be decked.
    The King and Rishyaśring elate
    Entered the royal city's gate--
    In front the chaplain rode.
    Then, loved and honored with all care
    By monarch and by courtier, there
    The glorious saint abode.



    The monarch called a Bráhman near
    And said, "Now speed away
    To Kaśyap's son, the mighty seer,
    And with all reverence say--
    The holy child he holds so dear,
    The hermit of the noble mind,
    Whose equal it were hard to find,
    Returned, is dwelling here.
    Go, and instead of me do thou
    Before that best of hermits bow,
    That still he may for his dear son,
    Show me the favor I have won."
    Soon as the King these words had said,
    To Kaśyap's son the Bráhman sped.
    Before the hermit low he bent
    And did obeisance, reverent;
    Then with meek words his grace to crave
    The message of his lord he gave:--
    "The high-souled father of his bride
    Had called thy son his rites to guide--
    Those rites are o'er, the steed is slain;
    Thy noble child is come again."
    Soon as the saint that speech had heard
    His spirit with desire was stirred
    To seek the city of the King
    And to his cot his son to bring.
    With young disciples at his side
    Forth on his way the hermit hied,
    While peasants from their hamlets ran
    To reverence the holy man.
    Each with his little gift of food,
    Forth came the village multitude,
    And, as they humbly bowed the head,
    "What may we do for thee?" they said.
    Then he, of Bráhmans first and best,
    The gathered people thus addressed:--
    "Now tell me, for I fain would know,
    Why is it I am honored so?"
    They to the high-souled saint replied:--
    "Our ruler is with thee allied.
    Our master's order we fulfil;
    O Bráhman, let thy mind be still."

    With joy the saintly hermit heard
    Each pleasant and delightful word,
    And poured a benediction down
    On King and ministers and town.
    Glad at the words of that high saint
    Some servants hastened to acquaint
    Their King, rejoicing to impart
    The tidings that would cheer his heart.
    Soon as the joyful tale he knew
    To meet the saint the monarch flew,
    The guest-gift in his hand he brought,
    And bowed before him and besought:--
    "This day by seeing thee I gain
    Not to have lived my life in vain.
    Now be not wroth with me, I pray,
    Because I wiled thy son away."
    The best of Bráhmans answer made:--
    "Be not, great lord of Kings, afraid.
    Thy virtues have not failed to win
    My favor, O thou pure of sin."
    Then in the front the saint was placed,
    The King came next in joyous haste,
    And with him entered his abode,
    'Mid glad acclaim as on they rode.
    To greet the sage the reverent crowd
    Raised suppliant hands and humbly bowed.
    Then from the palace many a dame
    Following well-dressed Śántá came,
    Stood by the mighty saint and cried:--
    "See, honor's source, thy son's dear bride."
    The saint, who every virtue knew,
    His arms around his daughter threw,
    And with a father's rapture pressed
    The lady to his wondering breast.
    Arising from the saint's embrace
    She bowed her low before his face,
    And then, with palm to palm applied,
    Stood by her hermit father's side.
    He for his son, as laws ordain,
    Performed the rite that frees from stain,
    And, honored by the wise and good,
    With him departed to the wood.



    The seasons six, in rapid flight,
    Had circled since that glorious rite.
    Eleven months had passed away--
    'Twas Chaitra's ninth returning day.
    The moon within that mansion shone
    Which Aditi looks so kindly on.
    Raised to their apex in the sky
    Five brilliant planets beamed on high.
    Shone with the moon, in Cancer's sign,
    Vrihaspati with light divine.
    Kauśalyá bore an infant blest
    With heavenly marks of grace impressed;
    Ráma, the universe's lord,
    A prince by all the worlds adored.
    New glory Queen Kauśalyá won
    Reflected from her splendid son.
    So Aditi shone more and more,
    The Mother of the Gods, when she
    The King of the Immortals bore,
    The thunder-wielding deity.
    The lotus-eyed, the beauteous boy,
    He came fierce Rávan to destroy;
    From half of Vishnu's vigor born,
    He came to help the worlds forlorn.
    And Queen Kaikeyí bore a child
    Of truest valor, Bharat styled,
    With every princely virtue blest,
    One-fourth of Vishnu manifest.
    Sumitrá too a noble pair,
    Called Lakshman and Śatrughna, bare,
    Of high emprise, devoted, true,
    Sharers in Vishnu's essence too.
    'Neath Pushya's mansion, Mína's sign,
    Was Bharat born, of soul benign.
    The sun had reached the Crab at morn
    When Queen Sumitrá's babes were born,
    What time the moon had gone to make
    His nightly dwelling with the Snake.
    The high-souled monarch's consorts bore
    At different times those glorious four,
    Like to himself and virtuous, bright
    As Proshthapadá's fourfold light.

    Then danced the nymphs' celestial throng,
    The minstrels raised their strain;
    The drums of heaven pealed loud and long,
    And flowers came down in rain.
    Within Ayodhyá, blithe and gay,
    All kept the joyous holiday.
    The spacious square, the ample road
    With mimes and dancers overflowed,
    And with the voice of music rang
    Where minstrels played and singers sang--
    And shone, a wonder to behold,
    With dazzling show of gems and gold.
    Nor did the King his largess spare,
    For minstrel, driver, bard, to share;
    Much wealth the Bráhmans bore away,
    And many thousand kine that day.
    Soon as each babe was twelve days old
    Twas time the naming rite to hold,
    When Saint Vaśishtha, rapt with joy,
    Assigned a name to every boy.
    Ráma, to him the high-souled heir,
    Bharat, to him Kaikeyí bare--
    Of Queen Sumitrá one fair son
    Was Lakshman, and Śatrughna one.
    Ráma, his sire's supreme delight,
    Like some proud banner cheered his sight,
    And to all creatures seemed to be
    The self-existent deity.
    All heroes, versed in holy lore,
    To all mankind great love they bore.
    Fair stores of wisdom all possessed,
    With princely graces all were blest.
    But mid those youths of high descent,
    With lordly light preëminent,
    Like the full moon unclouded shone
    Ráma, the world's dear paragon.
    He best the elephant could guide,
    Urge the fleet car, the charger ride--
    A master he of bowman's skill,
    Joying to do his father's will.
    The world's delight and darling, he
    Loved Lakshman best from infancy;
    And Lakshman, lord of lofty fate,
    Upon his elder joyed to wait,
    Striving his second self to please
    With friendship's sweet observances.
    His limbs the hero ne'er would rest
    Unless the couch his brother pressed;
    Except beloved Ráma shared
    He could not taste the meal prepared.
    When Ráma, pride of Raghu's race,
    Sprang on his steed to urge the chase,
    Behind him Lakshman loved to go
    And guard him with his trusty bow.
    As Ráma was to Lakshman dear
    More than his life and ever near,
    So fond Śatrughna prized above
    His very life his Bharat's love.
    Illustrious heroes, nobly kind
    In mutual love they all combined,
    And gave their royal sire delight
    With modest grace and warrior might;
    Supported by the glorious four
    Shone Daśaratha more and more,
    As though, with every guardian God
    Who keeps the land and skies,
    The Father of all creatures trod
    The earth before men's eyes.



    NOW Daśaratha's pious mind
    Meet wedlock for his sons designed;
    With priests and friends the King began
    To counsel and prepare his plan.
    Such thoughts engaged his bosom, when,
    To see Ayodhyá's lord of men,
    A mighty saint of glorious fame,
    The hermit Viśvámitra came.
    For evil fiends that roam by night
    Disturbed him in each holy rite,
    And in their strength and frantic rage
    Assailed with witcheries the sage.
    He came to seek the monarch's aid
    To guard the rites the demons stayed,
    Unable to a close to bring
    One unpolluted offering.
    Seeking the King in this dire strait
    He said to those who kept the gate:--
    "Haste, warders, to your master run,
    And say that here stands Gádhi's son."
    Soon as they heard the holy man,
    To the King's chamber swift they ran
    With minds disordered all, and spurred
    To wildest zeal by what they heard.
    On to the royal hall they sped,
    There stood and lowly bowed the head,
    And made the lord of men aware
    That the great saint was waiting there.
    The King with priest and peer arose
    And ran the sage to meet,
    As Indra from his palace goes
    Lord Brahmá's self to greet.
    When glowing with celestial light
    The pious hermit was in sight,
    The King, whose mien his transport showed,
    The honored gift for guests bestowed.
    Nor did the saint that gift despise,
    Offered as holy texts advise;
    He kindly asked the earth's great King
    How all with him was prospering.
    The son of Kusík bade him tell
    If all in town and field were well,
    All well with friends, and kith and kin,
    And royal treasure stored within:--
    "Do all thy neighbors own thy sway?
    Thy foes confess thee yet?
    Dost thou continue still to pay
    To Gods and men each debt?"
    Then he, of hermits first and best,
    Vaśishtha with a smile addressed,
    And asked him of his welfare too,
    Showing him honor as was due.
    Then with the sainted hermit all
    Went joyous to the monarch's hall,
    And sate them down by due degree,
    Each one, of rank and dignity.
    Joy filled the noble prince's breast
    Who thus bespoke the honored guest:--
    "As Amrit by a mortal found,
    As rain upon the thirsty ground,
    As to an heirless man a son
    Born to him of his precious one--
    As gain of what we sorely miss,
    As sudden dawn of mighty bliss,
    So is thy coming here to me--
    All welcome, mighty Saint, to thee.
    What wish within thy heart hast thou!
    If I can please thee, tell me how.
    Hail, Saint, from whom all honors flow,
    Worthy of all I can bestow.
    Blest is my birth with fruit to-day,
    Nor has my life been thrown away.
    I see the best of Bráhman race,
    And night to glorious morn gives place.
    Thou, holy Sage, in days of old
    Among the royal saints enrolled,
    Didst, penance-glorified, within
    The Bráhman caste high station win.
    'Tis meet and right in many a way
    That I to thee should honor pay.
    This seems a marvel to mine eyes--
    All sin thy visit purifies;
    And I by seeing thee, O Sage,
    Have reaped the fruit of pilgrimage.
    Then say what thou wouldst have me do.
    That thou hast sought this interview.
    Favored by thee, my wish is still,
    O Hermit, to perform thy will.
    Nor needest thou at length explain
    The object that thy heart would gain.
    Without reserve I grant it now--
    My deity, O Lord, art thou."
    The glorious hermit, far renowned.
    With highest fame and virtue crowned,
    Rejoiced these modest words to hear
    Delightful to the mind and ear.



    The hermit heard with high content
    That speech so wondrous eloquent,
    And while each hair with joy arose,
    He thus made answer at the close:--
    "Good is thy speech, O noble King,
    And like thyself in everything.
    So should their lips be wisdom-fraught
    Whom kings begot, Vaśishtha taught.
    The favor which I came to seek
    Thou grantest ere my tongue can speak.
    But let my tale attention claim,
    And hear the need for which I came.
    O King, as Scripture texts allow,
    A holy rite employs me now.
    Two fiends who change their forms at will
    Impede that rite with cursed skill.
    Oft when the task is nigh complete,
    These worst of fiends my toil defeat,
    Throw bits of bleeding flesh, and o'er
    The altar shed a stream of gore.
    When thus the rite is mocked and stayed.
    And all my pious hopes delayed,
    Cast down in heart the spot I leave,
    And spent with fruitless labor grieve.
    Nor can I, checked by prudence, dare
    Let loose my fury on them there--
    The muttered curse, the threatening word,
    In such a rite must ne'er be heard.
    Thy grace the rite from check can free,
    And yield the fruit I long to see.
    Thy duty bids thee, King, defend
    The suffering guest, the suppliant friend.
    Give me thy son, thine eldest born,
    Whom locks like raven's wings adorn.
    That hero youth, the truly brave,
    Of thee, O glorious King, I crave.
    For he can lay those demons low
    Who mar my rites and work me woe:
    My power shall shield the youth from harm,
    And heavenly might shall nerve his arm.
    And on my champion will I shower
    Unnumbered gifts of varied power--
    Such gifts as shall ensure his fame
    And spread through all the worlds his name.
    Be sure those fiends can never stand
    Before the might of Ráma's hand,
    And mid the best and bravest none
    Can slay that pair but Raghu's son.
    Entangled in the toils of Fate
    Those sinners, proud and obstinate,
    Are, in their fury overbold,
    No match for Ráma, mighty-souled.
    Nor let a father's breast give way
    Too far to fond affection's sway.
    Count thou the fiends already slain:
    My word is pledged, nor pledged in vain.
    I know the hero Ráma well
    In whom high thoughts and valor dwell;
    So does Vaśishtha, so do these
    Engaged in long austerities.
    If thou would do the righteous deed,
    And win high fame, thy virtue's meed,
    Fame that on earth shall last and live,
    To me, great King, thy Ráma give.
    If to the words that I have said,
    With Saint Vaśishtha at their head
    Thy holy men, O King, agree,
    Then let thy Ráma go with me.
    Ten nights my sacrifice will last,
    And ere the stated time be past
    Those wicked fiends, those impious twain,
    Must fall by wondrous Ráma slain.
    Let not the hours, I warn thee, fly,
    Fixt for the rite, unheeded by;
    Good luck have thou, O royal Chief,
    Nor give thy heart to needless grief."

    Thus in fair words with virtue fraught,
    The pious glorious saint besought.
    But the good speech with poignant sting
    Pierced ear and bosom of the King,
    Who, stabbed with pangs too sharp to bear,
    Fell prostrate and lay fainting there.



    His tortured senses all astray,
    Awhile the hapless monarch lay,
    Then slowly gathering thought and strength
    To Viśvámitra spoke at length:--
    "My son is but a child, I ween;
    This year he will be just sixteen.
    How is he fit for such emprise,
    My darling with the lotus eyes?
    A mighty army will I bring
    That calls me master, lord, and King,
    And with its countless squadrons fight
    Against these rovers of the night.
    My faithful heroes skilled to wield
    The arms of war will take the field;
    Their skill the demons' might may break:
    Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
    I, even I, my bow in hand,
    Will in the van of battle stand,
    And, while my soul is left alive,
    With the night-roaming demons strive.
    Thy guarded sacrifice shall be
    Completed, from all hindrance free.
    Thither will I my journey make:
    Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
    A boy unskilled, he knows not yet
    The bounds to strength and weakness set.
    No match is he for demon foes
    Who magic arts to arms oppose.
    O chief of saints, I have no power,
    Of Ráma reft, to live one hour--
    Mine aged heart at once would break:
    Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
    Nine thousand circling years have fled
    With all their seasons o'er my head,
    And as a hard-won boon, O Sage,
    These sons have come to cheer mine age.
    My dearest love amid the four
    Is he whom first his mother bore,
    Still dearer for his virtue's sake;
    Ráma, my child, thou must not take.
    But if, unmoved by all I say,
    Thou needs must bear my son away,
    Let me lead with him, I entreat,
    A fourfold army all complete.
    What is the demons' might, O Sage?
    Who are they? What their parentage?
    What is their size? What beings lend
    Their power to guard them and befriend?
    How can my son their arts withstand?
    Or I or all my armed band?
    Tell me the whole that I may know
    To met in war each evil foe
    Whom conscious might inspires with pride."

    And Viśvámitra thus replied:--
    "Sprung from Pulastya's race there came
    A giant known by Rávan's name.
    Once favored by the Eternal Sire
    He plagues the worlds in ceaseless ire,
    For peerless power and might renowned,
    By giant bands encompassed round.
    Viśravas for his sire they hold,
    His brother is the Lord of Gold.
    King of the giant hosts is he,
    And worst of all in cruelty.
    This Rávan's dread commands impel
    Two demons who in might excel,
    Márícha and Suváhu Light,
    To trouble and impede the rite."
    Then thus the King addressed the sage:--
    "No power have I, my lord, to wage
    War with this evil-minded foe;
    Now pity on my darling show,
    And upon me of hapless fate,
    For thee as God I venerate.
    Gods, spirits, bards of heavenly birth,
    The birds of air, the snakes of earth
    Before the might of Rávan quail,
    Much less can mortal man avail.
    He draws, I hear, from out the breast,
    The valor of the mightiest.
    No, ne'er can I with him contend,
    Or with the forces he may send.
    How can I then my darling lend,
    Godlike, unskilled in battle? No,
    I will not let my young child go.
    Foes of thy rite, those mighty ones,
    Sunda and Upasunda's sons,
    Are fierce as Fate to overthrow:
    I will not let my young child go.
    Márícha and Suváhu fell
    Are valiant and instructed well.
    One of the twain I might attack
    With all my friends their lord to back."



    While thus the hapless monarch spoke,
    Paternal love his utterance broke.
    Then words like these the saint returned,
    And fury in his bosom burned:--
    "Didst thou, O King, a promise make,
    And wishest now thy word to break?
    A son of Raghu's line should scorn
    To fail in faith, a man forsworn.
    But if thy soul can bear the shame
    I will return e'en as I came.
    Live with thy sons, and joy be thine,
    False scion of Kakutstha's line."
    As Viśvámitra, mighty sage,
    Was moved with this tempestuous rage,
    Earth rocked and reeled throughout her frame,
    And fear upon the Immortals came.
    But Saint Vaśishtha, wisest seer,
    Observant of his vows austere,
    Saw the whole world convulsed with dread,
    And thus unto the monarch said:--
    "Thou, born of old Ikshváku's seed,
    Art Justice' self in mortal weed.
    Constant and pious, blest by fate,
    The right thou must not violate.
    Thou, Raghu's son, so famous through
    The triple world as just and true,
    Perform thy bounden duty still,
    Nor stain thy race by deed of ill.
    If thou have sworn and now refuse
    Thou must thy store of merit lose.
    Then, Monarch, let thy Ráma go?
    Nor fear for him the demon foe.
    The fiends shall have no power to hurt
    Him trained to war or inexpert--
    Nor vanquish him in battle field,
    For Kuśik's son the youth will shield.
    He is incarnate Justice, he
    The best of men for bravery--
    Embodied love of penance drear,
    Among the wise without a peer.
    Full well he knows, great Kuśik's son,
    The arms celestial, every one,
    Arms from the Gods themselves concealed,
    Far less to other men revealed.
    These arms to him, when earth he swayed,
    Mighty Kriśáśva, pleased, conveyed.
    Kriśáśva's sons they are indeed,
    Brought forth by Daksha's lovely seed,
    Heralds of conquest, strong and bold,
    Brilliant, of semblance manifold.
    Jayá and Vijayá, most fair,
    A hundred splendid weapons bare;
    Of Jayá, glorious as the morn,
    First fifty noble sons were born,
    Boundless in size yet viewless too,
    They came the demons to subdue.
    And fifty children also came
    Of Vijayá the beauteous dame,
    Sanháras named, of mighty force,
    Hard to assail or check in course;
    Of these the hermit knows the use,
    And weapons new can he produce.
    All these the mighty saint will yield
    To Ráma's hand, to own and wield;
    And armed with these, beyond a doubt
    Shall Ráma put those fiends to rout.
    For Ráma and the people's sake,
    For thine own good my counsel take,
    Nor seek, O King, with fond delay,
    The parting of thy son to stay."



    Vaśishtha thus was speaking still:
    The monarch, of his own free will,
    Bade with quick zeal and joyful cheer
    Ráma and Lakshman hasten near.
    Mother and sire in loving care
    Sped their dear son with rite and prayer;
    Vaśishtha blessed him ere he went,
    O'er his loved head the father bent--
    And then to Kuśik's son resigned
    Ráma with Lakshman close behind.
    Standing by Viśvámitra's side,
    The youthful hero, lotus-eyed,
    The Wind-God saw, and sent a breeze
    Whose sweet pure touch just waved the trees.
    There fell from heaven a flowery rain,
    And with the song and dance the strain
    Of shell and tambour sweetly blent
    As forth the son of Raghu went.
    The hermit led: behind him came
    The bow-armed Ráma, dear to fame,
    Whose locks were like the raven's wing:--
    Then Lakshman, closely following.
    The Gods and Indra, filled with joy,
    Looked down upon the royal boy,
    And much they longed the death to see
    Of their ten-headed enemy.
    Ráma and Lakshman paced behind
    That hermit of the lofty mind,
    As the young Aśvins, heavenly pair,
    Follow Lord Indra through the air.
    On arm and hand the guard they wore,
    Quiver and bow and sword they bore;
    Two fire-born Gods of War seemed they,
    He, Śiva's self who led the way.
    Upon fair Sarjú's southern shore
    They now had walked a league or more,
    When thus the sage in accents mild
    To Ráma said: "Beloved child,
    This lustral water duly touch:
    My counsel will avail thee much.
    Forget not all the words I say,
    Nor let the occasion slip away.
    Lo, with two spells I thee invest,
    The mighty and the mightiest.
    O'er thee fatigue shall ne'er prevail,
    Nor age nor change thy limbs assail.
    Thee powers of darkness ne'er shall smite
    In tranquil sleep or wild delight.
    No one is there in all the land
    Thine equal for the vigorous hand.
    Thou, when thy lips pronounce the spell,
    Shalt have no peer in heaven or hell.
    None in the world with thee shall vie,
    O sinless one, in apt reply--
    In fortune, knowledge, wit, and tact,
    Wisdom to plan and skill to act.
    This double science take, and gain
    Glory that shall for aye remain.
    Wisdom and judgment spring from each
    Of these fair spells whose use I teach.
    Hunger and thirst unknown to thee,
    High in the worlds thy rank shall be.
    For these two spells with might endued,
    Are the Great Father's heavenly brood,
    And thee, O Chief, may fitly grace,
    Thou glory of Kakutstha's race.
    Virtues which none can match are thine,
    Lord, from thy birth, of gifts divine--
    And now these spells of might shall cast
    Fresh radiance o'er the gifts thou hast."
    Then Ráma duly touched the wave,
    Raised suppliant hands, bowed low his head,
    And took the spells the hermit gave,
    Whose soul on contemplation fed.
    From him whose might these gifts enhanced
    A brighter beam of glory glanced:--
    So shines in all his autumn blaze
    The Day-God of the thousand rays.
    The hermit's wants those youths supplied,
    As pupils used to holy guide.
    And then the night in sweet content
    On Sarjú's pleasant bank they spent.



    Soon as appeared the morning light
    Up rose the mighty anchorite,
    And thus to youthful Ráma said,
    Who lay upon his leafy bed:--
    "High fate is hers who calls thee son:
    Arise, 'tis break of day;
    Rise, Chief, and let those rites be done
    Due at the morning's ray."
    At that great sage's high behest
    Up sprang the princely pair,
    To bathing rites themselves addressed,
    And breathed the holiest prayer.
    Their morning task completed, they
    To Viśvámitra came,
    That store of holy works, to pay
    The worship saints may claim.
    Then to the hallowed spot they went
    Along fair Sarjú's side
    Where mix her waters confluent
    With three-pathed Gangá's tide.
    There was a sacred hermitage
    Where saints devout of mind
    Their lives through many a lengthened age
    To penance had resigned.
    That pure abode the princes eyed
    With unrestrained delight,
    And thus unto the saint they cried,
    Rejoicing at the sight:--
    "Whose is that hermitage we see?
    Who makes his dwelling there?
    Full of desire to hear are we:
    O Saint, the truth declare."
    The hermit, smiling, made reply
    To the two boys' request:--
    "Hear, Ráma, who in days gone by
    This calm retreat possessed--
    Kandarpa in apparent form,
    (Called Káma by the wise,)
    Dared Umá's new-wed lord to storm
    And make the God his prize.
    'Gainst Sthánu's self, on rites austere
    And vows intent, they say,
    His bold rash hand he dared to rear,
    Though Sthánu cried, Away!
    But the God's eye with scornful glare
    Fell terrible on him,
    Dissolved the shape that was so fair
    And burnt up every limb.
    Since the great God's terrific rage
    Destroyed his form and frame,
    Káma in each succeeding age
    Has borne Ananga's name.
    So, where his lovely form decayed,
    This land is Anga styled:--
    Sacred to him of old this shade,
    And hermits undefiled.
    Here Scripture-talking elders sway
    Each sense with firm control,
    And penance-rites have washed away
    All sin from every soul.
    One night, fair boy, we here will spend,
    A pure stream on each hand,
    And with to-morrow's light will bend
    Our steps to yonder strand.
    Here let us bathe, and free from stain
    To that pure grove repair,
    Sacred to Káma, and remain
    One night in comfort there."
    With penance' far-discerning eye
    The saintly men beheld
    Their coming, and with transport high
    Each holy bosom swelled.
    To Kuśik's son the gift they gave
    That honored guest should greet--
    Water they brought his feet to lave,
    And showed him honor meet.
    Ráma and Lakshman next obtained
    In due degree their share--
    Then with sweet talk the guests remained,
    And charmed each listener there.
    The evening prayers were duly said
    With voices calm and low:--
    Then on the ground each laid his head
    And slept till morning's glow.



    When the fair light of morning rose
    The princely tamers of their foes
    Followed, his morning worship o'er,
    The hermit to the river's shore.
    The high-souled men with thoughtful care
    A pretty barge had stationed there.
    All cried, "O lord, this barge ascend,
    And with thy princely followers bend
    To yonder side thy prosperous way--
    With nought to check thee or delay."
    Nor did the saint their rede reject:
    He bade farewell with due respect,
    And crossed, attended by the twain,
    That river rushing to the main.
    When now the bark was half-way o'er,
    Ráma and Lakshman heard the roar,
    That louder grew and louder yet,
    Of waves by dashing waters met.
    Then Ráma asked the mighty seer:--
    "What is the tumult that I hear
    Of waters cleft in mid-career?"
    Soon as the speech of Ráma, stirred
    By deep desire to know, he heard,
    The pious saint began to tell
    What caused the waters' roar and swell:--
    "On high Kailása's distant hill
    There lies a noble lake
    Whose waters, born from Brahmá's will,
    The name of Mánas take.
    Thence, hallowing where'er they flow,
    The streams of Sarjú fall,
    And wandering through the plains below
    Embrace Ayodhyá's wall.
    Still, still preserved in Sarjú's name
    Sarovar's fame we trace,
    The flood of Brahmá whence she came
    To run her holy race.
    To meet great Gangá here she hies
    With tributary wave--
    Hence the loud roar ye hear arise,
    Of floods that swell and rave.
    Here, pride of Raghu's line, do thou
    In humble adoration bow."

    He spoke. The princes both obeyed,
    And reverence to each river paid.
    They reached the southern shore at last,
    And gayly on their journey passed.
    A little space beyond there stood
    A gloomy awe-inspiring wood.
    The monarch's noble son began
    To question thus the holy man:--
    "Whose gloomy forest meets mine eye,
    Like some vast cloud that fills the sky?
    Pathless and dark it seems to be,
    Where birds in thousands wander free;
    Where shrill cicadas' cries resound,
    And fowl of dismal note abound.
    Lion, rhinoceros, and bear,
    Boar, tiger, elephant, are there,
    There shrubs and thorns run wild:
    Dháo, Sál, Bignonia, Bel, are found,
    And every tree that grows on ground:
    How is the forest styled?"
    The glorious saint this answer made:--
    "Dear child of Raghu, hear
    Who dwells within the horrid shade
    That looks so dark and drear.
    Where now is wood, long ere this day
    Two broad and fertile lands,
    Malaja and Karúsha lay,
    Adorned by heavenly hands.
    Here, mourning friendship's broken ties,
    Lord Indra of the thousand eyes
    Hungered and sorrowed many a day,
    His brightness soiled with mud and clay,
    When in a storm of passion he
    Had slain his dear friend Namuchi.
    Then came the Gods and saints who bore
    Their golden pitchers brimming o'er
    With holy streams that banish stain,
    And bathed Lord Indra pure again.
    When in this land the God was freed
    From spot and stain of impious deed
    For that his own dear friend he slew,
    High transport thrilled his bosom through.
    Then in his joy the lands he blessed,
    And gave a boon they long possessed:--
    "Because these fertile lands retain
    The washings of the blot and stain,
    ('Twas thus Lord Indra sware,)
    Malaja and Karúsha's name
    Shall celebrate with deathless fame
    My malady and care."
    "So be it," all the Immortals cried,
    When Indra's speech they heard--
    And with acclaim they ratified
    The names his lips conferred.
    "Long time, O victor of thy foes,
    These happy lands had sweet repose,
    And higher still in fortune rose.
    At length a spirit, loving ill,
    Tádaká, wearing shapes at will--
    Whose mighty strength, exceeding vast,
    A thousand elephants' surpassed,
    Was to fierce Sunda, lord and head
    Of all the demon armies, wed.
    From her, Lord Indra's peer in might
    Giant Márícha sprang to light;
    And she, a constant plague and pest,
    These two fair realms has long distressed.
    Now dwelling in her dark abode
    A league away she bars the road:
    And we, O Ráma, hence must go
    Where lies the forest of the foe.
    Now on thine own right arm rely,
    And my command obey:
    Smite the foul monster that she die,
    And take the plague away.
    To reach this country none may dare,
    Fallen from its old estate,
    Which she, whose fury nought can bear,
    Has left so desolate.
    And now my truthful tale is told--
    How with accursed sway
    The spirit plagued this wood of old,
    And ceases not to-day."



    When thus the sage without a peer
    Had closed that story strange to hear,
    Ráma again the saint addressed,
    To set one lingering doubt at rest:--
    "O holy man, 'tis said by all
    That spirits' strength is weak and small,
    How can she match, of power so slight,
    A thousand elephants in might?"
    And Viśvámitra thus replied
    To Raghu's son, the glorified:--
    "Listen, and I will tell thee how
    She gained the strength that arms her now.
    A mighty spirit lived of yore;
    Suketu was the name he bore.
    Childless was he, and free from crime
    In rites austere he passed his time.
    The mighty Sire was pleased to show
    His favor, and a child bestow,
    Tádaká named, most fair to see,
    A pearl among the maids was she--
    And matched, for such was Brahmá's dower,
    A thousand elephants in power.
    Nor would the Eternal Sire, although
    The spirit longed, a son bestow.
    That maid in beauty's youthful pride
    Was given to Sunda for a bride.
    Her son, Márícha was his name,
    A giant, through a curse, became.
    She, widowed, dared with him molest
    Agastya, of all saints the best.
    Inflamed with hunger's wildest rage,
    Roaring she rushed upon the sage.
    When the great hermit saw her near,
    On-speeding in her fierce career,
    He thus pronounced Márícha's doom:--
    'A giant's form and shape assume,'
    And then, by mighty anger swayed,
    On Tádaká this curse he laid:--
    'Thy present form and semblance quit,
    And wear a shape thy mood to fit;
    Changed form and feature by my ban,
    A fearful thing that feeds on man.'
    She, by his awful curse possessed,
    And mad with rage that fills her breast,
    Has on this land her fury dealt
    Where once the saint Agastya dwelt.
    Go, Ráma, smite this monster dead,
    The wicked plague, of power so dread,
    And further by this deed of thine
    The good of Bráhmans and of kine.
    Thy hand alone can overthrow,
    In all the worlds, this impious foe.
    Nor let compassion lead thy mind
    To shrink from blood of womankind;
    A monarch's son must ever count
    The people's welfare paramount--
    And whether pain or joy he deal
    Dare all things for his subjects' weal;
    Yea, if the deed bring praise or guilt,
    If life be saved or blood be spilt:--
    Such, through all time, should be the care
    Of those a kingdom's weight who bear.
    Slay, Ráma, slay this impious fiend,
    For by no law her life is screened.
    So Manthará, as bards have told,
    Virochan's child, was slain of old
    By Indra, when in furious hate
    She longed the earth to devastate.
    So Kávya's mother, Bhrigu's wife,
    Who loved her husband as her life,
    When Indra's throne she sought to gain,
    By Vishnu's hand of yore was slain.
    By these and high-souled kings beside,
    Struck down, have lawless women died."



    Thus spoke the saint. Each vigorous word
    The noble monarch's offspring heard--
    And, reverent hands together laid,
    His answer to the hermit made:--
    "My sire and mother bade me aye
    Thy word, O mighty Saint, obey.
    So will I, O most glorious, kill
    This Tádaká who joys in ill--
    For such my sire's, and such thy will.
    To aid with mine avenging hand
    The Bráhmans, kine, and all the land,
    Obedient, heart and soul, I stand."
    Thus spoke the tamer of the foe,
    And by the middle grasped his bow.
    Strongly he drew the sounding string
    That made the distant welkin ring.
    Scared by the mighty clang the deer
    That roamed the forest shook with fear.
    And Tádaká the echo heard,
    And rose in haste from slumber stirred.
    In wild amaze, her soul aflame
    With fury towards the spot she came.
    When that foul shape of evil mien
    And stature vast as e'er was seen
    The wrathful son of Raghu eyed,
    He thus unto his brother cried:--
    "Her dreadful shape, O Lakshman, see,
    A form to shudder at and flee.
    The hideous monster's very view
    Would cleave a timid heart in two.
    Behold the demon hard to smite,
    Defended by her magic might.
    My hand shall stay her course to-day,
    And shear her nose and ears away.
    No heart have I her life to take:
    I spare it for her sex's sake.
    My will is but--with minished force--
    To check her in her evil course."
    While thus he spoke, by rage impelled--
    Roaring as she came nigh,
    The fiend her course at Ráma held
    With huge arms tossed on high.
    Her, rushing on, the seer assailed
    With a loud cry of hate;
    And thus the sons of Raghu hailed:--
    "Fight, and be fortunate."
    Then from the earth a horrid cloud
    Of dust the demon raised,
    And for awhile in darkling shroud
    Wrapt Raghu's sons amazed.
    Then calling on her magic power
    The fearful fight to wage,
    She smote him with a stony shower,
    Till Ráma burned with rage.
    Then pouring forth his arrowy rain
    That stony flood to stay,
    With wingèd darts, as she charged amain,
    He shore her hands away.
    As Tádaká still thundered near
    Thus maimed by Ráma's blows,
    Lakshman in fury severed sheer
    The monster's ears and nose.
    Assuming by her magic skill
    A fresh and fresh disguise,
    She tried a thousand shapes at will,
    Then vanished from their eyes.
    When Gádhi's son of high renown
    Still saw the stony rain pour down
    Upon each princely warrior's head,
    With words of wisdom thus he said:--
    "Enough of mercy, Ráma, lest
    This sinful evil-working pest,
    Disturber of each holy rite,
    Repair by magic arts her might.
    Without delay the fiend should die,
    For, see, the twilight hour is nigh.
    And at the joints of night and day
    Such giant foes are hard to slay."
    Then Ráma, skilful to direct
    His arrow to the sound--
    With shafts the mighty demon checked
    Who rained her stones around.
    She, sore impeded and beset
    By Ráma and his arrowy net--
    Though skilled in guile and magic lore,
    Rushed on the brothers with a roar.
    Deformed, terrific, murderous, dread,
    Swift as the levin on she sped--
    Like cloudy pile in autumn's sky,
    Lifting her two vast arms on high:
    When Ráma smote her with a dart
    Shaped like a crescent, to the heart.
    Sore wounded by the shaft that came
    With lightning speed and surest aim,
    Blood spurting from her mouth and side,
    She fell upon the earth and died.
    Soon as the Lord who rules the sky
    Saw the dread monster lifeless lie,
    He called aloud, Well done! well done!
    And the Gods honored Raghu's son.
    Standing in heaven the Thousand-eyed,
    With all the Immortals, joying cried:--
    "Lift up thine eyes, O Saint, and see
    The Gods and Indra nigh to thee.
    This deed of Ráma's boundless might
    Has filled our bosoms with delight.
    Now, for our will would have it so,
    To Raghu's son some favor show.
    Invest him with the power which nought
    But penance gains, and holy thought.
    Those heavenly arms on him bestow--
    To thee entrusted long ago
    By great Kriśáśva best of kings,
    Son of the Lord of living things.
    More fit recipient none can be
    Than he who joys in following thee;
    And for our sakes the monarch's seed
    Has yet to do a mighty deed."

    He spoke; and all the heavenly train
    Rejoicing sought their homes again,
    While honor to the saint they paid--
    Then came the evening's twilight shade.
    The best of hermits overjoyed
    To know the monstrous fiend destroyed,
    His lips on Ráma's forehead pressed,
    And thus the conquering chief addressed:--
    "O Ráma, gracious to the sight,
    Here will we pass the present night,
    And with the morrow's earliest ray
    Bend to my hermitage our way."
    The son of Daśaratha heard,
    Delighted, Viśvámitra's word--
    And as he bade, that night he spent
    In Tádaká's wild wood, content.
    And the grove shone that happy day,
    Freed from the curse that on it lay--
    Like Chaitraratha fair and gay.



    That night they slept and took their rest;
    And then the mighty saint addressed,
    With pleasant smile and accents mild
    These words to Raghu's princely child:--
    "Well pleased am I. High fate be thine,
    Thou scion of a royal line.
    Now will I, for I love thee so,
    All heavenly arms on thee bestow.
    Victor with these, whoe'er oppose,
    Thy hand shall conquer all thy foes--
    Though Gods and spirits of the air,
    Serpents and fiends, the conflict dare.
    I'll give thee as a pledge of love
    The mystic arms they use above,
    For worthy thou to have revealed
    The weapons I have learnt to wield.
    First, son of Raghu, shall be thine
    The arm of Vengeance, strong, divine:
    The arm of Fate, the arm of Right,
    And Vishnu's arm of awful might:--
    That, before which no foe can stand,
    The thunderbolt of Indra's hand;
    And Śiva's trident, sharp and dread,
    And that dire weapon, Brahmá's Head.
    And two fair clubs, O royal child,
    One Charmer and one Pointed styled--
    With flame of lambent fire aglow,
    On thee, O Chieftain, I bestow.
    And Fate's dread net and Justice' noose
    That none may conquer, for thy use:--
    And the great cord, renowned of old,
    Which Varun ever loves to hold.
    Take these two thunderbolts, which I
    Have got for thee, the Moist and Dry.
    Here Śiva's dart to thee I yield,
    And that which Vishnu wont to wield.
    I give to thee the arm of Fire,
    Desired by all and named the Spire.
    To thee I grant the Wind-God's dart,
    Named Crusher, O thou pure of heart.
    This arm, the Horse's Head, accept,
    And this, the Curlew's Bill yclept,
    And these two spears, the best e'er flew,
    Named the Invincible and True.
    And arms of fiends I make thine own,
    Skull-wreath and mace that smashes bone.
    And Joyous, which the spirits bear,
    Great weapon of the sons of air.
    Brave offspring of the best of lords,
    I give thee now the Gem of swords--
    And offer next, thine hand to arm,
    The heavenly bard's beloved charm.
    Now with two arms I thee invest
    Of never-ending Sleep and Rest--
    With weapons of the Sun and Rain,
    And those that dry and burn amain;
    And strong Desire with conquering touch,
    The dart that Káma prizes much.
    I give the arm of shadowy powers
    That bleeding flesh of man devours.
    I give the arms the God of Gold
    And giant fiends exult to hold.
    This smites the foe in battle-strife,
    And takes his fortune, strength, and life.
    I give the arms called False and True,
    And great Illusion give I too;
    The hero's arm called Strong and Bright
    That spoils the foeman's strength in fight.
    I give thee as a priceless boon
    The Dew, the weapon of the Moon,
    And add the weapon, deftly planned,
    That strengthens Viśvakarmá's hand.
    The Mortal dart whose point is chill,
    And Slaughter, ever sure to kill;
    All these and other arms, for thou
    Art very dear, I give thee now.
    Receive these weapons from my hand,
    Son of the noblest in the land."
    Facing the east, the glorious saint
    Pure from all spot of earthly taint,
    To Ráma, with delighted mind,
    That noble host of spells consigned.
    He taught the arms, whose lore is won
    Hardly by Gods, to Raghu's son.
    He muttered low the spell whose call
    Summons those arms and rules them all--
    And each, in visible form and frame,
    Before the monarch's son they came.
    They stood and spoke in reverent guise
    To Ráma with exulting cries:--
    "O noblest child of Raghu, see,
    Thy ministers and thralls are we."
    With joyful heart and eager hand
    Ráma received the wondrous band,
    And thus with words of welcome cried:--
    "Aye present to my will abide"--
    Then hasted to the saint to pay
    Due reverence, and pursued his way.



    Pure, with glad cheer and joyful breast,
    Of those mysterious arms possessed,
    Ráma, now passing on his way,
    Thus to the saint began to say:--
    "Lord of these mighty weapons, I
    Can scarce be harmed by Gods on high;
    Now, best of saints, I long to gain
    The powers that can these arms restrain."
    Thus spoke the prince. The sage austere,
    True to his vows, from evil clear,
    Called forth the names of those great charms
    Whose powers restrain the deadly arms.
    "Receive thou True and Truly-famed,
    And Bold and Fleet: the weapons named
    Warder and Progress, swift of pace,
    Averted-head and Drooping-face;
    The Seen, and that which Secret flies--
    The weapon of the thousand eyes;
    Ten-headed, and the Hundred-faced,
    Star-gazer and the Layer-waste;
    The Omen-bird, the Pure-from-spot,
    The pair that wake and slumber not;
    The Fiendish, that which shakes amain,
    The Strong-of-Hand, the Rich-in-Gain;
    The Guardian, and the Close-allied,
    The Gaper, Love, and Golden-side:--
    O Raghu's son receive all these,
    Bright ones that wear what forms they please;
    Kriśáśva's mystic sons are they,
    And worthy thou their might to sway."
    With joy the pride of Raghu's race
    Received the hermit's proffered grace--
    Mysterious arms, to check and stay,
    Or smite the foeman in the fray.
    Then, all with heavenly forms endued,
    Nigh came the wondrous multitude.
    Celestial in their bright attire
    Some shone like coals of burning fire--
    Some were like clouds of dusky smoke;
    And suppliant thus they sweetly spoke:--
    "Thy thralls, O Ráma, here we stand--
    Command, we pray, thy faithful band."
    "Depart," he cried, "where each may list,
    But when I call you to assist,
    Be present to my mind with speed,
    And aid me in the hour of need."

    To Ráma then they lowly bent,
    And round him in due reverence went--
    To his command they answered, "Yea,"
    And as they came so went away.
    When thus the arms had homeward flown,
    With pleasant words and modest tone,
    E'en as he walked, the prince began
    To question thus the holy man:--
    "What cloudlike wood is that which near
    The mountain's side I see appear?
    O tell me, for I long to know:
    Its pleasant aspect charms me so.
    Its glades are full of deer at play,
    And sweet birds sing on every spray.
    Passed is the hideous wild--I feel
    So sweet a tremor o'er me steal--
    And hail with transport fresh and new
    A land that is so fair to view.
    Then tell me all, thou holy Sage,
    And whose this pleasant hermitage
    In which those wicked ones delight
    To mar and kill each holy rite--
    And with foul heart and evil deed
    Thy sacrifice, great Saint, impede.
    To whom, O Sage, belongs this land
    In which thine altars ready stand?
    'Tis mine to guard them, and to slay
    The giants who the rites would stay.
    All this, O best of saints, I burn
    From thine own lips, my lord, to learn."



    Thus spoke the prince of boundless might,
    And thus replied the anchorite:--
    "Chief of the mighty arm, of yore
    Lord Vishnu, whom the Gods adore
    For holy thought and rites austere,
    Of penance made his dwelling here.
    This ancient wood was called of old
    Grove of the Dwarf, the mighty-souled--
    And when perfection he attained
    The grove the name of Perfect gained.
    Bali of yore, Virochan's son,
    Dominion over Indra won--
    And when with power his proud heart swelled,
    O'er the three worlds his empire held.
    When Bali then began a rite,
    The Gods and Indra in affright
    Sought Vishnu in this place of rest,
    And thus with prayers the God addressed:--
    'Bali, Virochan's mighty son,
    His sacrifice has now begun:
    Of boundless wealth, that demon king
    Is bounteous to each living thing.
    Though suppliants flock from every side
    The suit of none is e'er denied.
    Whate'er, where'er, howe'er the call,
    He hears the suit and gives to all.
    Now with thine own illusive art
    Perform, O Lord, the helper's part:
    Assume a dwarfish form, and thus
    From fear and danger rescue us.'
    Thus in their dread the Immortals sued
    The God, a dwarfish shape indued:--
    Before Virochan's son he came,
    Three steps of land his only claim.
    The boon obtained, in wondrous wise
    Lord Vishnu's form increased in size;
    Through all the worlds, tremendous, vast,
    God of the Triple Step, he passed.
    The whole broad earth from side to side
    He measured with one mighty stride--
    Spanned with the next the firmament,
    And with the third through heaven he went.
    Thus was the king of demons hurled
    By Vishnu to the nether world--
    And thus the universe restored
    To Indra's rule, its ancient lord.
    And now because the Immortal God
    This spot in dwarflike semblance trod,
    The grove has aye been loved by me
    For reverence of the devotee.
    But demons haunt it, prompt to stay
    Each holy offering I would pay.
    Be thine, O lion-lord, to kill
    These giants that delight in ill.
    This day, beloved child, our feet
    Shall rest within the calm retreat;
    And know, thou chief of Raghu's line,
    My hermitage is also thine."
    He spoke; and soon the anchorite,
    With joyous looks that beamed delight,
    With Ráma and his brother stood
    Within the consecrated wood.
    Soon as they saw the holy man,
    With one accord together ran
    The dwellers in the sacred shade,
    And to the saint their reverence paid--
    And offered water for his feet,
    The gift of honor, and a seat;
    And next with hospitable care
    They entertained the princely pair.
    The royal tamers of their foes
    Rested awhile in sweet repose--
    Then to the chief of hermits sued
    Standing in suppliant attitude:--
    "Begin, O best of saints, we pray,
    Initiatory rites to-day.
    This Perfect Grove shall be anew
    Made perfect, and thy words be true."

    Then, thus addressed, the holy man,
    The very glorious sage, began
    The high preliminary rite,
    Restraining sense and appetite.
    Calmly the youths that night reposed,
    And rose when morn her light disclosed--
    Their morning worship paid, and took
    Of lustral water from the brook.
    Thus purified they breathed the prayer,
    Then greeted Viśvámitra where
    As celebrant he sate beside
    The flame with sacred oil supplied.



    That conquering pair, of royal race,
    Skilled to observe due time and place--
    To Kúśik's hermit son addressed,
    In timely words, their meet request:--
    "When must we, lord, we pray thee tell,
    Those Rovers of the Night repel?
    Speak, lest we let the moment fly,
    And pass the due occasion by."
    Thus longing for the strife, they prayed,
    And thus the hermit's answer made:--
    "Till the fifth day be come and past,
    O Raghu's sons, your watch must last.
    The saint his Díkshá has begun,
    And all that time will speak to none."
    Soon as the steadfast devotees
    Had made reply in words like these,
    The youths began, disdaining sleep,
    Six days and nights their watch to keep--
    The warrior pair who tamed the foe,
    Unrivalled benders of the bow,
    Kept watch and ward unwearied still
    To guard the saint from scathe and ill.
    Twas now the sixth returning day,
    The hour foretold had passed away.
    Then Ráma cried: "O Lakshman, now!
    Firm, watchful, resolute be thou.
    The fiends as yet have kept afar
    From the pure grove in which we are;
    Yet waits us, ere the day shall close,
    Dire battle with the demon foes."
    While thus spoke Ráma, borne away
    By longing for the deadly fray,
    See! bursting from the altar came
    The sudden glory of the flame;
    Round priest and deacon, and upon
    Grass, ladles, flowers, the splendor shone--
    And the high rite, in order due,
    With sacred texts began anew.
    But then a loud and fearful roar
    Re-echoed through the sky;
    And like vast clouds that shadow o'er
    The heavens in dark July,
    Involved in gloom of magic might
    Two fiends rushed on amain--
    Márícha, Rover of the Night,
    Suváhu, and their train.
    As on they came in wild career
    Thick blood in rain they shed;
    And Ráma saw those things of fear
    Impending overhead. Then, soon as those accursed two
    Who showered down blood he spied,
    Thus to his brother brave and true
    Spoke Ráma lotus-eyed:--
    "Now, Lakshman, thou these fiends shalt see,
    Man-eaters, foul of mind,
    Before my mortal weapon flee
    Like clouds before the wind."
    He spoke. An arrow, swift as thought,
    Upon his bow he pressed,
    And smote, to utmost fury wrought,
    Márícha on the breast.
    Deep in his flesh the weapon lay
    Winged by the mystic spell,
    And, hurled a hundred leagues away,
    In ocean's flood he fell.
    Then Ráma, when he saw the foe
    Convulsed and mad with pain
    'Neath the chill-pointed weapon's blow,
    To Lakshman spoke again:--
    "See, Lakshman, see! this mortal dart
    That strikes a numbing chill,
    Hath struck him senseless with the smart,
    But left him breathing still.
    But these who love the evil way
    And drink the blood they spill,
    Rejoicing holy rites to stay,
    Fierce plagues, my hand shall kill."
    He seized another shaft, the best,
    Aglow with living flame;
    It struck Suváhu on the chest,
    And dead to earth he came.
    Again a dart, the Wind-God's own,
    Upon his string he laid,
    And all the demons were overthrown--
    The saints no more afraid.
    When thus the fiends were slain in fight,
    Disturbers of each holy rite,
    Due honor by the saints was paid
    To Ráma for his wondrous aid:--
    So Indra is adored when he
    Has won some glorious victory.
    Success at last the rite had crowned,
    And Viśvámitra gazed around--
    And seeing every side at rest,
    The son of Raghu thus addressed:--
    "My joy, O Prince, is now complete--
    Thou hast obeyed my will:
    Perfect before, this calm retreat
    Is now more perfect still."



    Their task achieved, the princes spent
    That night with joy and full content.
    Ere yet the dawn was well displayed
    Their morning rites they duly paid--
    And sought, while yet the light was faint,
    The hermits and the mighty saint.
    They greeted first that holy sire
    Resplendent like the burning fire,
    And then with noble words began
    Their sweet speech to the sainted man:--
    "Here stand, O lord, thy servants true--
    Command what thou wouldst have us do."
    The saints, by Viśvámitra led,
    To Ráma thus in answer said:--
    "Janak, the king who rules the land
    Of fertile Mithilá, has planned
    A noble sacrifice, and we
    Will thither go the rite to see.
    Thou, Prince of men, with us shalt go,
    And there behold the wondrous bow--
    Terrific, vast, of matchless might,
    Which, splendid at the famous rite,
    The Gods assembled gave the King.
    No giant, fiend, or God can string
    That gem of bows, no heavenly bard;
    Then, sure, for man the task were hard.
    When lords of earth have longed to know
    The virtue of that wondrous bow,
    The strongest sons of kings in vain
    Have tried the mighty cord to strain.
    This famous bow thou there shalt view,
    And wondrous rites shalt witness too.
    The high-souled king who lords it o'er
    The realm of Mithilá, of yore
    Gained from the Gods this bow, the price
    Of his imperial sacrifice.
    Won by the rite the glorious prize
    Still in his royal palace lies--
    Laid up in oil of precious scent
    With aloes-wood and incense blent."
    Then Ráma answering, "Be it so,"
    Made ready with the rest to go.
    The saint himself was now prepared,
    But ere beyond the grove he fared,
    He turned him and in words like these
    Addressed the sylvan deities:--
    "Farewell! each holy rite complete,
    I leave the hermits' perfect seat:
    To Gangá's northern shore I go
    Beneath Himálaya's peaks of snow."
    With reverent steps he paced around
    The limits of the holy ground--
    And then the mighty saint set forth
    And took his journey to the north.
    His pupils, deep in Scripture's page,
    Followed behind the holy sage,
    And servants from the sacred grove
    A hundred wains for convoy drove.
    The very birds that winged that air,
    The very deer that harbored there,
    Forsook the glade and leafy brake
    And followed for the hermits' sake.
    They travelled far, till in the west
    The sun was speeding to his rest,
    And made, their portioned journey o'er,
    Their halt on Śona's distant shore.
    The hermits bathed when sank the sun,
    And every rite was duly done--
    Oblations paid to Fire, and then
    Sate round their chief the holy men.
    Ráma and Lakshman lowly bowed
    In reverence to the hermit crowd--
    And Ráma, having sate him down
    Before the saint of pure renown,
    With humble palms together laid
    His eager supplication made:--
    "What country, O my lord, is this,
    Fair-smiling in her wealth and bliss?
    Deign fully, O thou mighty Seer,
    To tell me, for I long to hear."
    Moved by the prayer of Ráma, he
    Told forth the country's history.



    A king of Brahmá's seed who bore
    The name of Kúsa reigned of yore.
    Just, faithful to his vows, and true,
    He held the good in honor due.
    His bride, a queen of noble name,
    Of old Vidarbha's monarchs came.
    Like their own father, children four,
    All valiant boys, the lady bore.
    In glorious deeds each nerve they strained,
    And well their Warrior part sustained.
    To them most just, and true, and brave,
    Their father thus his counsel gave:--
    "Beloved children, ne'er forget
    Protection is a prince's debt:
    The noble work at once begin,
    High virtue and her fruits to win."
    The youths, to all the people dear,
    Received his speech with willing ear;
    And each went forth his several way,
    Foundations of a town to lay.
    Kuśámba, prince of high renown,
    Was builder of Kauśámbí's town,
    And Kuśanábha, just and wise,
    Bade high Mahodaya's towers arise.
    Amúrtarajas chose to dwell
    In Dharmáranya's citadel,
    And Vasu bade his city fair
    The name of Girivraja bear.
    This fertile spot whereon we stand
    Was once the high-souled Vasu's land.
    Behold! as round we turn our eyes,
    Five lofty mountain peaks arise.
    See! bursting from her parent hill,
    Sumágadhí, a lovely rill,
    Bright gleaming as she flows between
    The mountains, like a wreath is seen--
    And then through Magadh's plains and groves
    With many a fair meander roves.
    And this was Vasu's old domain,
    The fertile Magadh's broad champaign,
    Which smiling fields of tilth adorn
    And diadem with golden corn.
    The queen Ghritáchí, nymph most fair,
    Married to Kuśanábha, bare
    A hundred daughters lovely faced,
    With every charm and beauty graced.
    It chanced the maidens, bright and gay
    As lightning-flashes on a day
    Of rain-time, to the garden went
    With song and play and merriment--
    And there in gay attire they strayed,
    And danced, and laughed, and sang, and played.
    The God of Wind who roves at will
    All places, as he lists, to fill,
    Saw the young maidens dancing there,
    Of faultless shape and mien most fair--
    "I love you all, sweet girls," he cried,
    "And each shall be my darling bride.
    Forsake, forsake your mortal lot,
    And gain a life that withers not.
    A fickle thing is youth's brief span,
    And more than all is mortal man.
    Receive unending youth, and be
    Immortal, O my loves, with me,"
    The hundred girls, to wonder stirred,
    The wooing of the Wind-God heard,
    Laughed, as a jest, his suit aside,
    And with one voice they thus replied:--
    "O mighty Wind, free spirit who
    All life pervadest, through and through--
    Thy wondrous power we maidens know;
    Then wherefore wilt thou mock us so?
    Our sire is Kuśanábha, King;
    And we, forsooth, have charms to bring
    A God to woo us from the skies;
    But honor first we maidens prize.
    Far may the hour, we pray, be hence,
    When we, O thou of little sense,
    Our truthful father's choice refuse,
    And for ourselves our husbands choose.
    Our honored sire our lord we deem,
    He is to us a God supreme--
    And they to whom his high decree
    May give us shall our husbands be."

    He heard the answer they returned,
    And mighty rage within him burned.
    On each fair maid a blast he sent--
    Each stately form he bowed and bent.
    Bent double by the Wind-God's ire
    They sought the palace of their sire,
    There fell upon the ground with sighs,
    While tears and shame were in their eyes.
    The King himself, with, troubled brow,
    Saw his dear girls so fair but now,
    A mournful sight all bent and bowed--
    And grieving, thus he cried aloud:--
    "What fate is this, and what the cause?
    What wretch has scorned all heavenly laws?
    Who thus your forms could curve and break?
    You struggle, but no answer make."
    They heard the speech of that wise king
    Of their misfortune questioning.
    Again the hundred maidens sighed,
    Touched with their heads his feet, and cried:--
    "The God of Wind, pervading space,
    Would bring on us a foul disgrace,
    And choosing folly's evil way
    From virtue's path in scorn would stray.
    But we in words like these reproved
    The God of Wind whom passion moved:--
    'Farewell, O Lord! A sire have we,
    No women uncontrolled and free.
    Go, and our sire's consent obtain
    If thou our maiden hands wouldst gain.
    No self-dependent life we live:
    If we offend, our fault forgive,'
    But led by folly as a slave,
    He would not hear the rede we gave,
    And even as we gently spoke
    We felt the Wind-God's crushing stroke."
    The pious King, with grief distressed,
    The noble hundred thus addressed:--
    "With patience, daughters, bear your fate,
    Yours was a deed supremely great
    When with one mind you kept from shame
    The honor of your father's name.
    Patience, when men their anger vent,
    Is woman's praise and ornament;
    Yet when the Gods inflict the blow
    Hard is it to support the woe.
    Patience, my girls, exceeds all price--
    'Tis alms, and truth, and sacrifice.
    Patience is virtue, patience fame:
    Patience upholds this earthly frame.
    And now, I think, is come the time
    To wed you in your maiden prime.
    Now, daughters, go where'er you will:
    Thoughts for your good my mind shall fill."
    The maidens went, consoled, away:--
    The best of kings, that very day,
    Summoned his ministers of state
    About their marriage to debate.
    Since then, because the Wind-God bent
    The damsels' forms for punishment,
    That royal town is known to fame
    By Kanyákubja's borrowed name.

    There lived a sage called Chúli then,
    Devoutest of the sons of men;
    His days in penance rites he spent,
    A glorious saint, most continent.
    To him absorbed in tasks austere
    The child of Urmílá draw near--
    Sweet Somadá, the heavenly maid,
    And lent the saint her pious aid.
    Long time near him the maiden spent,
    And served him meek and reverent,
    Till the great hermit, pleased with her,
    Thus spoke unto his minister:--
    "Grateful am I for all thy care--
    Blest maiden, speak, thy wish declare."
    The sweet-voiced nymph rejoiced to see
    The favor of the devotee,
    And to that excellent old man,
    Most eloquent she thus began:--
    "Thou hast, by heavenly grace sustained,
    Close union with the Godhead gained.
    I long, O Saint, to see a son
    By force of holy penance won.
    Unwed, a maiden life I live:
    A son to me, thy suppliant, give."
    The saint with favor heard her prayer,
    And gave a son exceeding fair.
    Him, Chúli's spiritual child,
    His mother Brahmadatta styled.
    King Brahmadatta, rich and great,
    In Kámpilí maintained his state--
    Ruling, like Indra in his bliss,
    His fortunate metropolis.
    King Kuśanábha planned that he
    His hundred daughters' lord should be.
    To him, obedient to his call,
    The happy monarch gave them all.
    Like Indra then he took the hand
    Of every maiden of the band.
    Soon as the hand of each young maid
    In Brahmadatta's palm was laid,
    Deformity and cares away,
    She shone in beauty bright and gay.
    Their freedom from the Wind-God's might
    Saw Kuśanábha with delight.
    Each glance that on their forms he threw
    Filled him with raptures ever new.
    Then when the rites were all complete,
    With highest marks of honor meet
    The bridegroom with his brides he sent
    To his great seat of government.
    The nymph received with pleasant speech
    Her daughters; and, embracing each,
    Upon their forms she fondly gazed,
    And royal Kuśanábha praised.



    The rites were o'er, the maids were wed,
    The bridegroom to his home was sped.
    The sonless monarch bade prepare
    A sacrifice to gain an heir.
    Then Kuśa, Brahmá's son, appeared,
    And thus King Kuśanábha cheered:--
    'Thou shalt, my child, obtain a son
    Like thine own self, O holy one.
    Through him forever, Gádhi named,
    Shalt thou in all the worlds be famed.'
    He spoke and vanished from the sight
    To Brahmá's world of endless light.
    Time fled, and, as the saint foretold,
    Gádhi was born, the holy-souled.
    My sire was he; through him I trace
    My line from royal Kúsa's race.
    My sister--elder-born was she--
    The pure and good Satyavatí,
    Was to the great Richíka wed.
    Still faithful to her husband dead,
    She followed him, most noble dame,
    And, raised to heaven in human frame,
    A pure celestial stream became.
    Down from Himálaya's snowy height,
    In floods forever fair and bright,
    My sister's holy waves are hurled
    To purify and glad the world.
    Now on Himálaya's side I dwell
    Because I love my sister well.
    She, for her faith and truth renowned,
    Most loving to her husband found,
    High-fated, firm in each pure vow,
    Is queen of all the rivers now.
    Bound by a vow I left her side
    And to the Perfect convent hied.
    There, by the aid 'twas thine to lend,
    Made perfect, all my labors end.
    Thus, mighty Prince, I now have told
    My race and lineage, high and old,
    And local tales of long ago
    Which thou, O Ráma, fain wouldst know.
    As I have sate rehearsing thus
    The midnight hour is come on us.
    Now, Ráma, sleep, that nothing may
    Our journey of to-morrow stay.
    No leaf on any tree is stirred--
    Hushed in repose are beast and bird:
    Where'er you turn, on every side,
    Dense shades of night the landscape hide.
    The light of eve is fled: the skies,
    Thick-studded with their host of eyes,
    Seem a star-forest overhead,
    Where signs and constellations spread.
    Now rises, with his pure cold ray,
    The moon that drives the shades away,
    And with his gentle influence brings
    Joy to the hearts of living things.
    Now, stealing from their lairs, appear
    The beasts to whom the night is dear.
    Now spirits walk, and every power
    That revels in the midnight hour."

    The mighty hermit's tale was o'er,
    He closed his lips and spoke no more.
    The holy men on every side,
    "Well done! well done," with reverence cried,
    "The mighty men of Kuśa's seed
    Were ever famed for righteous deed.
    Like Brahmá's self in glory shine
    The high-souled lords of Kuśa's line.
    And thy great name is sounded most,
    O Saint, amid the noble host.
    And thy dear sister--fairest she
    Of streams, the high-born Kauśikí--
    Diffusing virtue where she flows,
    New splendor on thy lineage throws."
    Thus by the chief of saints addressed
    The son of Gádhi turned to rest;
    So, when his daily course is done,
    Sinks to his rest the beaming sun.
    Ráma, with Lakshman, somewhat stirred
    To marvel by the tales they heard,
    Turned also to his couch, to close
    His eyelids in desired repose.



    The hours of night now waning fast
    On Śona's pleasant shore they passed.
    Then, when the dawn began to break.
    To Ráma thus the hermit spake:--
    "The light of dawn is breaking clear,
    The hour of morning rites is near.
    Rise, Ráma, rise, dear son, I pray,
    And make thee ready for the way."
    Then Ráma rose, and finished all
    His duties at the hermit's call--
    Prepared with joy the road to take,
    And thus again in question spake:--
    "Here fair and deep the Śona flows,
    And many an isle its bosom shows:
    What way, O Saint, will lead us o'er
    And land us on the farther shore?"
    The saint replied: "The way I choose
    Is that which pious hermits use."
    For many a league they journeyed on
    Till, when the sun of mid-day shone,
    The hermit-haunted flood was seen
    Of Jáhnaví, the Rivers' Queen.
    Soon as the holy stream they viewed,
    Thronged with a white-winged multitude
    Of sárases and swans, delight
    Possessed them at the lovely sight;
    And then prepared the hermit band
    To halt upon that holy strand.
    They bathed as Scripture bids, and paid
    Oblations due to God and shade.
    To Fire they burnt the offerings meet,
    And sipped the oil, like Amrit sweet.
    Then pure and pleased they sate around
    Saint Viśvámitra, on the ground.
    The holy men of lesser note,
    In due degree, sate more remote,
    While Raghu's sons took nearer place
    By virtue of their rank and race.
    Then Ráma said: "O Saint, I yearn
    The three-pathed Gangá's tale to learn."

    Thus urged, the sage recounted both
    The birth of Gangá and her growth:--
    "The mighty hill with metals stored,
    Himálaya, is the mountains' lord,
    The father of a lovely pair
    Of daughters fairest of the fair--
    Their mother, offspring of the will
    Of Meru, everlasting hill,
    Mená, Himálaya's darling, graced
    With beauty of her dainty waist.
    Gangá was elder-born:--then came
    The fair one known by Umá's name.
    Then all the Gods of heaven, in need
    Of Gangá's help their vows to speed,
    To great Himálaya came and prayed
    The Mountain King to yield the maid.
    He, not regardless of the weal
    Of the three worlds, with holy zeal
    His daughter to the Immortals gave,
    Gangá whose waters cleanse and save--
    Who roams at pleasure, fair and free,
    Purging all sinners, to the sea.
    The three-pathed Gangá thus obtained,
    The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
    Long time the sister Umá passed
    In vows austere and rigid fast,
    And the King gave the devotee
    Immortal Rudra's bride to be--
    Matching with that unequalled Lord
    His Umá through the worlds adored.
    So now a glorious station fills
    Each daughter of the King of Hills--
    One honored as the noblest stream,
    One mid the Goddesses supreme.
    Thus Gangá, King Himálaya's child,
    The heavenly river, undefiled,
    Rose bearing with her to the sky
    Her waves that bless and purify."

[_Cantos XXXVII and XXXVIII are omitted._]



    The saint in accents sweet and clear
    Thus told his tale for Ráma's ear--
    And thus anew the holy man
    A legend to the prince began:--
    "There reigned a pious monarch o'er
    Ayodhyá in the days of yore:
    Sagar his name:--no child had he,
    And children much he longed to see.
    His honored consort, fair of face,
    Sprang from Vidarbha's royal race--
    Keśiní, famed from early youth
    For piety and love of truth.
    Arishtanemi's daughter fair,
    With whom no maiden might compare
    In beauty, though the earth is wide,
    Sumati, was his second bride.
    With his two queens afar he went,
    And weary days in penance spent,
    Fervent, upon Himálaya's hill
    Where springs the stream called Bhrigu's rill.
    Nor did he fail that saint to please
    With his devout austerities,
    And, when a hundred years had fled,
    Thus the most truthful Bhrigu said:--
    'From thee, O Sagar, blameless King,
    A mighty host of sons shall spring,
    And thou shalt win a glorious name
    Which none, O Chief, but thou shall claim.
    One of thy queens a son shall bear
    Maintainer of thy race and heir;
    And of the other there shall be
    Sons sixty thousand born to thee.'
    Thus as he spake, with one accord,
    To win the grace of that high lord,
    The queens, with palms together laid,
    In humble supplication prayed:--
    'Which queen, O Bráhman, of the pair,
    The many, or the one shall bear?
    Most eager, Lord, are we to know,
    And as thou sayest be it so,'
    With his sweet speech the saint replied:--
    'Yourselves, O Queens, the choice decide.
    Your own discretion freely use
    Which shall the one or many choose:
    One shall the race and name uphold,
    The host be famous, strong, and bold.
    Which will have which?' Then Keśiní
    The mother of one heir would be.
    Sumati, sister of the King
    Of all the birds that ply the wing,
    To that illustrious Bráhman sued
    That she might bear the multitude--
    Whose fame throughout the world should sound
    For mighty enterprise renowned.
    Around the saint the monarch went,
    Bowing his head, most reverent.
    Then with his wives, with willing feet,
    Resought his own imperial seat,
    Time passed. The elder consort bare
    A son called Asamanj, the heir.
    Then Sumati, the younger, gave
    Birth to a gourd, O hero brave,
    Whose rind, when burst and cleft in two,
    Gave sixty thousand babes to view.
    All these with care the nurses laid
    In jars of oil; and there they stayed,
    Till, youthful age and strength complete,
    Forth speeding from each dark retreat--
    All peers in valor, years, and might,
    The sixty thousand came to light.
    Prince Asamanj, brought up with care,
    Scourge of his foes, was made the heir.
    But liegemen's boys he used to cast
    To Sarjú's waves that hurried past--
    Laughing the while in cruel glee
    Their dying agonies to see.
    This wicked prince who aye withstood
    The counsel of the wise and good,
    Who plagued the people in his hate,
    His father banished from the state.
    His son, kind-spoken, brave, and tall,
    Was Anśumán, beloved of all.
    Long years flew by. The King decreed
    To slay a sacrificial steed.
    Consulting with his priestly band
    He vowed the rite his soul had planned,
    And, Veda-skilled, by their advice
    Made ready for the sacrifice."



    The hermit ceased--the tale was done:--
    Then in a transport Raghu's son
    Again addressed the ancient sire
    Resplendent as a burning fire:--
    "O holy man, I fain would hear
    The tale repeated full and clear
    How he from whom my sires descend
    Brought the great rite to happy end,"
    The hermit answered with a smile:--
    "Then listen, son of Raghu, while
    My legendary tale proceeds
    To tell of high-souled Sagar's deeds.
    Within the spacious plain that lies
    From where Himálaya's heights arise
    To where proud Vindhya's rival chain
    Looks down upon the subject plain--
    A land the best for rites declared--
    His sacrifice the king prepared.
    And Anśumán the prince--for so
    Sagar advised--with ready bow
    Was borne upon a mighty car
    To watch the steed who roamed afar.
    But Indra, monarch of the skies,
    Veiling his form in demon guise,
    Came down upon the appointed day
    And drove the victim horse away.
    Reft of the steed the priests, distressed,
    The master of the rite addressed:--
    'Upon the sacred day by force
    A robber takes the victim horse.
    Haste, King! now let the thief be slain;
    Bring thou the charger back again:
    The sacred rite prevented thus
    Brings scathe and woe to all of us.
    Rise, Monarch, and provide with speed
    That nought its happy course impede.'

    King Sagar in his crowded court
    Gave ear unto the priests' report.
    He summoned straightway to his side
    His sixty thousand sons, and cried:--
    'Brave sons of mine, I know not how
    These demons are so mighty now--
    The priests began the rite so well
    All sanctified with prayer and spell.
    If in the depths of earth he hide,
    Or lurk beneath the ocean's tide,
    Pursue, dear sons, the robber's track;
    Slay him and bring the charger back.
    The whole of this broad earth explore,
    Sea-garlanded, from shore to shore:
    Yea, dig her up with might and main
    Until you see the horse again.
    Deep let your searching labor reach,
    A league in depth dug out by each.
    The robber of our horse pursue,
    And please your sire who orders you.
    My grandson, I, this priestly train,
    Till the steed comes, will here remain.'

    Their eager hearts with transport burned
    As to their task the heroes turned.
    Obedient to their father, they
    Through earth's recesses forced their way.
    With iron arms' unflinching toil
    Each dug a league beneath the soil.
    Earth, cleft asunder, groaned in pain,
    As emulous they plied amain--
    Sharp-pointed coulter, pick, and bar,
    Hard as the bolts of Indra are.
    Then loud the horrid clamor rose
    Of monsters dying 'neath their blows,
    Giant and demon, fiend and snake,
    That in earth's core their dwelling make.
    They dug, in ire that nought could stay,
    Through sixty thousand leagues their way--
    Cleaving the earth with matchless strength
    Till hell itself they reached at length.
    Thus digging searched they Jambudvíp
    With all its hills and mountains steep.
    Then a great fear began to shake
    The heart of God, bard, fiend, and snake--
    And all distressed in spirit went
    Before the Sire Omnipotent.
    With signs of woe in every face
    They sought the mighty Father's grace,
    And trembling still and ill at ease
    Addressed their Lord in words like these:--
    'The sons of Sagar, Sire benign,
    Pierce the whole earth with mine on mine,
    And as their ruthless work they ply
    Innumerable creatures die,'
    'This is the thief,' the princes say,
    'Who stole our victim steed away.
    This marred the rite, and caused us ill.'
    And so their guiltless blood they spill.



    "The Father lent a gracious ear
    And listened to their tale of fear,
    And kindly to the Gods replied
    Whom woe and death had terrified:--
    'The wisest Vásudeva, who
    The Immortals' foe, fierce Madhu, slew,
    Regards broad Earth with love and pride,
    And guards, in Kapil's form, his bride.
    His kindled wrath will quickly fall
    On the King's sons and burn them all.
    This cleaving of the earth his eye
    Foresaw in ages long gone by:
    He knew with prescient soul the fate
    That Sagar's children should await.'
    The Three-and-thirty, freed from fear,
    Sought their bright homes with hopeful cheer.
    Still rose the great tempestuous sound
    As Sagar's children pierced the ground.
    When thus the whole broad earth was cleft,
    And not a spot unsearched was left,
    Back to their home the princes sped,
    And thus unto their father said:--
    'We searched the earth from side to side,
    While countless hosts of creatures died.
    Our conquering feet in triumph trod
    On snake and demon, fiend and God;
    But yet we failed, with all our toil,
    To find the robber and the spoil.
    What can we more? If more we can,
    Devise, O King, and tell thy plan,'
    His children's speech King Sagar heard,
    And answered thus, to anger stirred:--
    'Dig on, and ne'er your labor stay
    Till through earth's depths you force your way.
    Then smite the robber dead, and bring
    The charger back with triumphing.'

    The sixty thousand chiefs obeyed--
    Deep through the earth their way they made.
    Deep as they dug and deeper yet
    The immortal elephant they met--
    Famed Virúpáksha vast of size,
    Upon whose head the broad earth lies:
    The mighty beast who earth sustains
    With shaggy hills and wooded plains.
    When, with the changing moon, distressed,
    And longing for a moment's rest,
    His mighty head the monster shakes,
    Earth to the bottom reels and quakes.
    Around that warder strong and vast
    With reverential steps they passed--
    Nor, when the honor due was paid,
    Their downward search through earth delayed.
    But turning from the east aside
    Southward again their task they plied.
    There Mahápadma held his place,
    The best of all his mighty race--
    Like some huge hill, of monstrous girth,
    Upholding on his head the earth.
    When the vast beast the princes saw,
    They marvelled and were filled with awe.
    The sons of high-souled Sagar round
    That elephant in reverence wound.
    Then in the western region they
    With might unwearied cleft their way.
    There saw they with astonished eyes
    Saumanas, beast of mountain size.
    Round him with circling steps they went
    With greetings kind and reverent.
    On, on--no thought of rest or stay--
    They reached the seat of Soma's sway.
    There saw they Bhadra, white as snow,
    With lucky marks that fortune show,
    Bearing the earth upon his head.
    Round him they paced with solemn tread,
    And honored him with greetings kind;
    Then downward yet their way they mined.
    They gained the tract 'twixt east and north
    Whose fame is ever blazoned forth,
    And by a storm of rage impelled,
    Digging through earth their course they held.
    Then all the princes, lofty-souled,
    Of wondrous vigor, strong and bold,
    Saw Vásudeva standing there
    In Kapil's form he loved to wear,
    And near the everlasting God
    The victim charger cropped the sod.
    They saw with joy and eager eyes
    The fancied robber and the prize,
    And on him rushed the furious band
    Crying aloud, 'Stand, villain! stand!'
    'Avaunt! avaunt!' great Kapil cried,
    His bosom flushed with passion's tide;
    Then by his might that proud array
    All scorched to heaps of ashes lay.



    Then to the prince his grandson, bright
    With his own fame's unborrowed light,
    King Sagar thus began to say,
    Marvelling at his sons' delay:--
    'Thou art a warrior skilled and bold,
    Match for the mighty men of old.
    Now follow on thine uncles' course
    And track the robber of the horse.
    To guard thee take thy sword and bow,
    For huge and strong are beasts below.
    There to the reverend reverence pay,
    And kill the foes who check thy way;
    Then turn successful home and see
    My sacrifice complete through thee.'

    Obedient to the high-souled lord
    Grasped Anśumán his bow and sword,
    And hurried forth the way to trace
    With youth and valor's eager pace.
    On sped he by the path he found
    Dug by his uncles underground.
    The warder elephant he saw
    Whose size and strength pass Nature's law--
    Who bears the world's tremendous weight,
    Whom God, fiend, giant, venerate.
    Bird, serpent, and each flitting shade,
    To him the honor meet he paid--
    With circling steps and greeting due,
    And further prayed him, if he knew,
    To tell him of his uncles' weal,
    And who had dared the horse to steal.

    To him in war and council tried
    The warder elephant replied:--
    'Thou, son of Asamanj, shalt lead
    In triumph back the rescued steed,'

    As to each warder beast he came
    And questioned all, his words the same,
    The honored youth with gentle speech
    Drew eloquent reply from each--
    That fortune should his steps attend,
    And with the horse he home should wend.
    Cheered with the grateful answer, he
    Passed on with step more light and free,
    And reached with careless heart the place
    Where lay in ashes Sagar's race.
    Then sank the spirit of the chief
    Beneath that shock of sudden grief--
    And with a bitter cry of woe
    He mourned his kinsmen fallen so.
    He saw, weighed down by woe and care,
    The victim charger roaming there.
    Yet would the pious chieftain fain
    Oblations offer to the slain:
    But, needing water for the rite,
    He looked and there was none in sight.
    His quick eye searching all around
    The uncle of his kinsmen found--
    King Garud, best beyond compare
    Of birds who wing the fields of air.
    Then thus unto the weeping man
    The son of Vinatá began:--
    'Grieve not, O hero, for their fall
    Who died a death approved of all.
    Of mighty strength, they met their fate
    By Kapil's hand whom none can mate.
    Pour forth for them no earthly wave,
    A holier flood their spirits crave.
    If, daughter of the Lord of Snow,
    Gangá would turn her stream below,
    Her waves that cleanse all mortal stain
    Would wash their ashes pure again.
    Yea, when her flood whom all revere
    Rolls o'er the dust that moulders here,
    The sixty thousand, freed from sin,
    A home in Indra's heaven shall win.
    Go, and with ceaseless labor try
    To draw the Goddess from the sky.
    Return, and with thee take the steed;
    So shall thy grandsire's rite succeed,'

    Prince Anśumán the strong and brave
    Followed the rede Suparna gave.
    The glorious hero took the horse,
    And homeward quickly bent his course.
    Straight to the anxious King he hied,
    Whom lustral rites had purified--
    The mournful story to unfold
    And all the King of birds had told.
    The tale of woe the monarch heard,
    No longer was the rite deferred:
    With care and just observance he
    Accomplished all, as texts decree.
    The rites performed, with brighter fame,
    Mighty in counsel, home he came.
    He longed to bring the river down,
    But found no plan his wish to crown.
    He pondered long with anxious thought,
    But saw no way to what he sought.
    Thus thirty thousand years he spent,
    And then to heaven the monarch went.



    "When Sagar thus had bowed to fate,
    The lords and commons of the state
    Approved with ready heart and will
    Prince Anśumán his throne to fill.
    He ruled, a mighty king, unblamed,
    Sire of Dilípa justly famed.
    To him, his child and worthy heir,
    The King resigned his kingdom's care,
    And on Himálaya's pleasant side
    His task austere of penance plied.
    Bright as a God in clear renown
    He planned to bring pure Gangá down.
    There on his fruitless hope intent
    Twice sixteen thousand years he spent,
    And in the grove of hermits stayed
    Till bliss in heaven his rites repaid.
    Dilípa then, the good and great,
    Soon as he learnt his kinsmen's fate,
    Bowed down by woe, with troubled mind.
    Pondering long no cure could find.
    'How can I bring,' the mourner sighed,
    'To cleanse their dust, the heavenly tide?
    How can I give them rest, and save
    Their spirits with the offered wave?'
    Long with this thought his bosom skilled
    In holy discipline was filled.
    A son was born, Bhagírath named,
    Above all men for virtue famed.
    Dilípa many a rite ordained,
    And thirty thousand seasons reigned.
    But when no hope the king could see
    His kinsmen from their woe to free,
    The lord of men, by sickness tried,
    Obeyed the law of fate, and died;
    He left the kingdom to his son,
    And gained the heaven his deeds had won.
    The good Bhagírath, royal sage,
    Had no fair son to cheer his age.
    He, great in glory, pure in will,
    Longing for sons was childless still.
    Then on one wish, one thought intent,
    Planning the heavenly stream's descent,
    Leaving his ministers the care
    And burden of his state to bear--
    Dwelling in far Gokarna he
    Engaged in long austerity.
    With senses checked, with arms upraised,
    Five fires around and o'er him blazed.
    Each weary month the hermit passed
    Breaking but once his awful fast.
    In winter's chill the brook his bed,
    In rain, the clouds to screen his head.
    Thousands of years he thus endured
    Till Brahmá's favor was assured--
    And the high Lord of living things
    Looked kindly on his sufferings.
    With trooping Gods the Sire came near
    The King who plied his task austere:--
    'Blest Monarch, of a glorious race,
    Thy fervent rites have won my grace.
    Well hast thou wrought thine awful task,
    Some boon in turn, O Hermit, ask.'

    Bhagírath, rich in glory's light,
    The hero with the arm of might,
    Thus to the Lord of earth and sky
    Raised suppliant hands and made reply:--
    'If the great God his favor deigns,
    And my long toil its fruit obtains,
    Let Sagar's sons receive from me
    Libations that they long to see.
    Let Gangá with her holy wave
    The ashes of the heroes lave--
    That so my kinsmen may ascend
    To heavenly bliss that ne'er shall end.
    And give, I pray, O God, a son,
    Nor let my house be all undone.
    Sire of the worlds! be this the grace
    Bestowed upon Ikshváku's race,'
    The Sire, when thus the King had prayed,
    In sweet kind words his answer made:--
    'High, high thy thought and wishes are,
    Bhagírath of the mighty car!
    Ikshváku's line is blest in thee,
    And as thou prayest it shall be.
    Gangá, whose waves in Swarga flow,
    Is daughter of the Lord of Snow.
    Win Śiva that his aid be lent
    To hold her in her mid-descent--
    For earth alone will never bear
    Those torrents hurled from upper air;
    And none may hold her weight but He,
    The Trident-wielding deity,'
    Thus having said, the Lord supreme
    Addressed him to the heavenly stream;
    And then with Gods and Maruts went
    To heaven, above the firmament."




[_Translation by Sir Monier Monier-Williams_]


The drama is always the latest development of a national poetry--for the
origin of poetry is in the religious rite, where the hymn or the ode is
used to celebrate the glories of some divinity, or some hero who has
been received into the circle of the gods. This at least is the case in
Sanscrit as in Greek literature, where the hymn and ballad precede the
epic. The epic poem becomes the stable form of poetry during the middle
period in the history of literature, both in India and Greece. The union
of the lyric and the epic produces the drama. The speeches uttered by
the heroes in such poems as the "Iliad" are put into the mouths of real
personages who appear in sight of the audience and represent with
fitting gestures and costumes the characters of the story. The dialogue
is interspersed with songs or odes, which reach their perfection in the
choruses of Sophocles.

The drama is undoubtedly the most intellectual, as it is the most
artificial, form of poetry. The construction of the plot, and the
arrangement of the action, give room for the most thoughtful and
deliberate display of genius. In this respect the Greek drama stands
forth as most philosophically perfect. The drama, moreover, has always
been by far the most popular form of poetry; because it aids, as much as
possible, the imagination of the auditor, and for distinctness and
clearness of impression stands preëminent above both the epic narrative
and the emotional description of the lyric.

The drama in India appears to have been a perfectly indigenous creation,
although it was of very late development, and could not have appeared
even so early as the Alexandrian pastorals which marked the last phase
of Greek poetry. When it did appear, it never took the perfect form of
the drama at Athens. It certainly borrowed as little from Greece as it
did from China or Japan, and the Persians and Arabians do not appear to
have produced any dramatic masterpieces. The greatest of dramatists in
the Sanscrit language is undoubtedly Kálidása, whose date is placed, by
different scholars, anywhere from the first to the fifth century of our
era. His masterpiece, and indeed the masterpiece of the Indian drama, is
the "Śakoontalá," which has all the graces as well as most of the faults
of Oriental poetry. There can be no doubt that to most Europeans the
charm of it lies in the exquisite description of natural scenery and of
that atmosphere of piety and religious calm--almost mediaeval in its
austere beauty and serenity--which invests the hermit life of India. The
abode of the ascetics is depicted with a pathetic grace that we only
find paralleled in the "Admetus" of Euripides. But at the same time the
construction of the drama is more like such a play as Milton's "Comus,"
than the closely-knit, symmetrical, and inevitable progress of such a
work of consummate skill as the "King Oedipus" of Sophocles. Emotion,
and generally the emotion of love, is the motive in the "Śakoontalá" of
Kálidása, and different phases of feeling, rather than the struggles of
energetic action, lead on to the _dénouement_ of the play. The
introduction of supernatural agencies controlling the life of the
personages, leaves very little room for the development and description
of human character. As the fate of the hero is dependent altogether upon
the caprice of superhuman powers, the moral elements of a drama are but
faintly discernible. Thus the central action of Śakoontalá hinges on the
fact that the heroine, absorbed in thoughts of love, neglects to welcome
with due respect the great saint Durvasas--certainly a trifling and
venial fault--but he is represented as blighting her with a curse which
results in all the unhappiness of the drama, and which is only ended at
last by the intervention of a more powerful being. By this principle of
construction the characters are reduced to mere shadow creations:
beautiful as arabesques, delicate as a piece of ivory carving, tinted
like the flat profiles of an Oriental fan or the pattern of a porcelain
vase, but deficient in robustness and vigorous coloring. Humanity is
absolutely dwarfed and its powers rendered inoperative by the crowd of
supernatural creatures that control its destiny. Even in the "Tempest"
of Shakespeare, in which the supernatural plays a greater part than in
any other English drama, the strength and nobility of human character
are allowed full play--and man in his fortitude, in his intellect and
will, even more than in his emotions, keeps full possession of the
stage, and imparts a reality to every scene which makes the wildest
flight of fancy bear a real relation to the common experiences of human

The "Śakoontalá" is divided into seven acts, and is a mixture of prose
and verse;--each character rising in the intensity of emotional
utterance into bursts of lyric poetry. The first act introduces the King
of India, Dushyanta, armed with bow and arrows, in a chariot with his
driver. They are passing through a forest in pursuit of a black
antelope, which they fail to overtake before the voice of some hermit
forbids them to slay the creature as it belongs to the hermitage. The
king piously desists and reaches the hermitage of the great saint Kanwa,
who has left his companions in charge of his foster-daughter,
Śakoontalá, while he is bound on a pilgrimage. Following these hermits
the king finds himself within the precincts of a sacred grove, where
rice is strewn on the ground to feed the parrots that nest in the hollow
trunks, and where the unterrified antelopes do not start at the human
voice. The king stops his chariot and alights, so as not to disturb the
dwellers in the holy wood. He feels a sudden throb in his right arm,
which augurs happy love, and sees hermit maidens approaching to sprinkle
the young shrubs, with watering-pots suited to their strength. The forms
of these hermit maidens eclipse those found in queenly halls, as the
luxuriance of forest vines excels the trim vineyards of cultivation.
Amongst these maidens the king, concealed by the trees, observes
Śakoontalá, dressed in the bark garment of a hermit--like a blooming bud
enclosed within a sheath of yellow leaves. When she stands by the
_keśara_-tree, the king is impressed by her beauty, and regrets that she
is, if of a purely Bráhmanic origin, forbidden to marry one of the
warrior class, even though he be a king. A very pretty description is
given of the pursuit of Śakoontalá by a bee which her sprinkling has
startled from a jasmine flower. From this bee she is rescued by the
king, and is dismayed to find that the sight of the stranger affects her
with an emotion unsuited to the holy grove. She hurries off with her two
companions, but as she goes she declares that a prickly _kusa_-grass has
stung her foot; a _kuruvaka_-bush has caught her garment, and while her
companions disentangle it, she takes a long look at the king, who
confesses that he cannot turn his mind from Śakoontalá. This is the
opening episode of their love.

The second act introduces the king's jester, a Bráhman on confidential
terms with his master, who, while Dushyanta is thinking of love, is
longing to get back to the city. He is tired of the hot jungle, the
nauseating water of bitter mountain streams, the racket of fowlers at
early dawn, and the eternal galloping, by which his joints are bruised.
The king is equally tired of hunting, and confesses that he cannot bend
his bow against those fawns which dwell near Śakoontalá's abode, and
have taught their tender glance to her. He calls back the beaters sent
out to surround the forest, takes off his hunting-suit, and talks to the
jester about the charms of Śakoontalá--whom the Creator, he says, has
formed by gathering in his mind all lovely shapes, so as to make a
peerless woman-gem. He recalls the glance which she shot at him as she
cried, "a _kusha-grass_ has stung my foot." Meanwhile two hermits
approach him with the news that the demons have taken advantage of
Kanwa's absence to disturb the sacrifices. They request him to take up
his abode in the grove for a few days, in order to vanquish the enemies.
A messenger arrives to tell him that his mother, in four days, will be
offering a solemn sacrifice for her son's welfare, and invites his
presence at the rite. But he cannot leave Śakoontalá, and sends the
jester Máthavya in his stead, telling him to say nothing about his love
for Śakoontalá.

In the third act the love of the king and the hermit girl reaches its
climax. The king is found walking in the hermitage, invoking the God of
Love, whose shafts are flowers, though the flowery darts are hard as
steel. "Mighty God of Love, hast Thou no pity on me?" What better
relief, he asks, than the sight of my beloved? He traces Śakoontalá, by
the broken tubes which bore the blossoms she had culled, to the arbor,
enclosed by the plantation of canes, and shaded by vines, at whose
entrance he observes in the sand the track of recent footsteps. Peering
through the branches, he perceives her reclining on a stone seat strewn
with flowers. Her two companions are with her, and she is sick unto
death. The king notices that her cheeks are wasted, her breasts less
swelling, her slender waist more slender, her roseate hue has grown
pale, and she seems like some poor _madhave_ creeper touched by winds
that have scorched its leaves. Her companions anxiously inquire the
cause of her sickness, and, after much hesitation, she reveals her love
by inscribing a poem, with her fingernail, on a lotus leaf smooth as a
parrot's breast. The king hears the avowal of her love, rushes in to
her, and declares his passion: adding that daughters of a royal saint
have often been wedded by _Gandharva_ rites, without ceremonies or
parental consent, yet have not forfeited the father's blessing. He thus
overcomes her scruples. Gautamí, the matron of the hermitage, afterwards
enters, and asks, "My child, is your fever allayed?" "Venerable mother,"
is the reply, "I feel a grateful change." As the king sits in solitude
that evening in the deserted arbor, he hears a voice outside, uttering
the verses--"The evening rites have begun; but, dark as the clouds of
night, the demons are swarming round the altar fires." With these words
of ill-omen the third act comes to an end.

The fourth act describes the fulfilment of this evil omen. The king has
now returned to the city, and has given Śakoontalá a signet ring, with
an inscription on it, pronouncing that after there have elapsed as many
days as there are letters in this inscription he will return. As the two
maiden companions of Śakoontalá are culling flowers in the garden of the
hermitage, they hear a voice exclaiming, "It is I! give heed!" This is
the great Durvasas, whom Śakoontalá, lost in thoughts of her absent
husband, has neglected at once to go forth to welcome. The voice from
behind the scenes is soon after heard uttering a curse--"Woe unto her
who is thus neglectful of a guest," and declaring that Dushyanta, of
whom alone she is thinking, regardless of the presence of a pious saint,
shall forget her in spite of all his love, as the wine-bibber forgets
his delirium. The Hindoo saint is here described in all his arrogance
and cruelty. One of the maidens says that he who had uttered the curse
is now retiring with great strides, quivering with rage--for his wrath
is like a consuming fire. A pretty picture is given of Śakoontalá, who
carries on her finger the signet ring, which has the virtue of restoring
the king's love, if ever he should forget her. "There sits our beloved
friend," cries one of the maidens: "motionless as a picture; her cheek
supported by her left hand, so absorbed in thoughts of her absent lover
that she is unconscious of her own self--how much more of a passing

In the fourth act there is an exquisite description of the return of
Kanwa from his pilgrimage, and the preparations for the start of
Śakoontalá for her husband's palace, in the city. The delicate pathos of
the scene is worthy of Euripides. "Alas! Alas!" exclaim the two maidens,
"Now Śakoontalá has disappeared behind the trees of the forest. Tell us,
master, how shall we enter again the sacred grove made desolate by her
departure?" But the holy calm, broken for a moment by the excitement of
his child's departure, is soon restored to Kanwa's mind. "Now that my
child is dismissed to her husband's home, tranquillity regains my soul."
The closing reflection is worthy of a Greek dramatist: "Our maids we
rear for the happiness of others; and now that I have sent her to her
husband I feel the satisfaction that comes from restoring a trust."

In the fifth act, the scene is laid in Dushyanta's palace, where the
king is living, under the curse of Durvasas, in complete oblivion of
Śakoontalá. The life of the court is happily suggested, with its
intrigues and its business. The king has yet a vague impression of
restlessness, which, on hearing a song sung behind the scenes, prompts
him to say, "Why has this strain flung over me so deep a melancholy, as
though I was separated from some loved one; can this be the faint
remembrance of affections in some previous existence?" It is here that
the hermits, with Gautamí, arrive, bringing Śakoontalá, soon to be made
a mother, into the presence of the king; but she has been utterly
forgotten by him. He angrily denies his marriage; and when she proposes
to bring forth the ring, she finds she has lost it from her finger. "It
must have slipped off," suggested Gautamí, "when thou wast offering
homage to Śachí's holy lake." The king smiles derisively. Śakoontalá
tries to quicken his memory:--"Do you remember how, in the jasmine
bower, you poured water from the lotus cup into the hollow of my hand?
Do you remember how you said to my little fawn, Drink first, but she
shrunk from you--and drank water from my hand, and you said, with a
smile, 'Like trusts Like,' for you are two sisters in the same grove."
The king calls her words "honeyed falsehoods." Śakoontalá buries her
face in her mantle and bursts into tears.

The tenderness of this scene, its grace and delicacy, are quite idyllic,
and worthy of the best ages of the pastoral drama. The ring is at
length restored to Dushyanta, having been found by a fisherman in the
belly of a carp. On its being restored to the king's finger, he is
overcome with a flood of recollection: he gives himself over to mourning
and forbids the celebration of the Spring festival. He admits that his
palsied heart had been slumbering, and that, now it is roused by
memories of his fawn-eyed love, he only wakes to agonies of remorse.
Meanwhile Śakoontalá had been carried away like a celestial nymph to the
sacred grove of Kaśyapa, far removed from earth in the upper air. The
king, being summoned by Indra to destroy the brood of giants,
descendants of Kalamemi, the monster of a hundred arms and heads,
reaches in the celestial car Indra, the grove where dwell his wife and
child, an heroic boy whom the hermits call Sarva-damana--the all-tamer.
The recognition and reconciliation of husband and wife are delineated
with the most delicate skill, and the play concludes with a prayer to



DUSHYANTA, King of India.

MÁTHAVYA, the Jester, friend and companion of the King.

KANWA, chief of the Hermits, foster-father of Śakoontalá.

SÁRNGARAVA, SÁRADWATA, two Bráhmans, belonging to the hermitage of

MITRÁVASU, brother-in-law of the King, and Superintendent of the city

JÁNUKA, SÚCHAKA, two constables.

VÁTÁYANA, the Chamberlain or attendant on the women's apartments.

SOMARÁTA, the domestic Priest.

KARABHAKA, a messenger of the Queen-mother.

RAIVATAKA, the warder or door-keeper.

MÁTALI, charioteer of Indra.

SARVA-DAMANA, afterwards Bharata, a little boy, son of Dushyanta by

KAŚYAPA, a divine sage, progenitor of men and gods, son of Maríchi and
grandson of Brahmá.

ŚAKOONTALÁ, daughter of the sage Viśwámitra and the nymph Menaká,
foster-child of the hermit Kanwa.

PRIYAMVADÁ and ANASÚYÁ, female attendants, companions of Śakoontalá.

GAUTAMÍ, a holy matron, Superior of the female inhabitants of the

VASUMATÍ, the Queen of Dushyanta.

SÁNUMATÍ, a nymph, friend of Śakoontalá.

TARALIKÁ, personal attendant of the King.

CHATURIKÁ, personal attendant of the Queen.

VETRAVATÍ, female warder, or door-keeper.

PARABARITIKÁ and MADHUKARIKÁ, maidens in charge of the royal gardens.

SUVRATÁ, a nurse.

ADITI, wife of Kaśyapa; grand-daughter of Brahmá, through her father,

Charioteer, Fisherman, Officers, and Hermits.


Observe, that in order to secure the correct pronunciation of the title
of this Drama, "Śakuntalá" has been spelt "Śa-koontalá," the _u_ being
pronounced like the _u_ in the English word _rule_.

The vowel _a_ must invariably be pronounced with a dull sound, like the
_a_ in _organ_, or the _u_ in _fun, sun. Dushyanta_ must therefore be
pronounced as if written _Dooshyunta_. The long vowel _a_ is pronounced
like the _a_ in _last, cart; i_ like the _i_ in _pin, sin_; _í_ like the
_i_ in _marine; e_ like the _e_ in _prey; o_ like the _o_ in _so; ai_
like the _ai_ in _aisle; au_ like _au_ in the German word _baum_, or
like the _ou_ in _our_.

The consonants are generally pronounced as in English, but _g_ has
always the sound of _g_ in _gun, give_, never of _g_ in _gin. S_ with
the accent over it (ś) has the sound of _s_ in _sure_, or of the last
_s_ in _session_.




    Iśa preserve you! he who is revealed
    In these eight forms by man perceptible--
    Water, of all creation's works the first;
    The fire that bears on high the sacrifice
    Presented with solemnity to heaven;
    The Priest, the holy offerer of gifts;
    The Sun and Moon, those two majestic orbs,
    Eternal marshallers of day and night;
    The subtle Ether, vehicle of sound,
    Diffused throughout the boundless universe;
    The Earth, by sages called "The place of birth
    Of all material essences and things";
    And Air, which giveth life to all that breathe.

STAGE-MANAGER [_after the recitation of the benediction, looking towards
the tiring-room._]--Lady, when you have finished attiring yourself, come
this way.

ACTRESS [_entering._]--Here I am, Sir; what are your commands?

STAGE-MANAGER.--We are here before the eyes of an audience of educated
and discerning men; and have to represent in their presence a new drama
composed by Kálidása, called "Śakoontalá, or the Lost Ring." Let the
whole company exert themselves to do justice to their several parts.

ACTRESS,--You, Sir, have so judiciously managed the cast of the
characters, that nothing will be defective in the acting.

STAGE-MANAGER.--Lady, I will tell you the exact state of the case.
    No skill in acting can I deem complete,
    Till from the wise the actor gain applause:
    Know that the heart e'en of the truly skilful,
    Shrinks from too boastful confidence in self.

ACTRESS [_modestly_].--You judge correctly. And now, what are your

STAGE-MANAGER.--What can you do better than engage the attention of the
audience by some captivating melody?

ACTRESS.--Which among the seasons shall I select as the subject of my

STAGE-MANAGER.--You surely ought to give the preference to the present
Summer season that has but recently commenced, a season so rich in
enjoyment. For now
    Unceasing are the charms of halcyon days,
    When the cool bath exhilarates the frame;
    When sylvan gales are laden with the scent
    Of fragrant Pátalas; when soothing sleep
    Creeps softly on beneath the deepening shade;
    And when, at last, the dulcet calm of eve
    Entrancing steals o'er every yielding sense.

ACTRESS.--I will. [_Sings._
    Fond maids, the chosen of their hearts to please,
      Entwine their ears with sweet Śirísha flowers,
    Whose fragrant lips attract the kiss of bees
      That softly murmur through the summer hours.

STAGE-MANAGER.--Charmingly sung! The audience are motionless as statues,
their souls riveted by the enchanting strain. What subject shall we
select for representation, that we may insure a continuance of their

ACTRESS.--Why not the same, Sir, announced by you at first? Let the
drama called "Śakoontalá, or the Lost Ring," be the subject of our
dramatic performance.

STAGE-MANAGER.--Rightly reminded! For the moment I had forgotten it.
    Your song's transporting melody decoyed
    My thoughts, and rapt with ecstasy my soul;
    As now the bounding antelope allures
    The King Dushyanta on the chase intent. [_Exeunt._


Scene.--A Forest

_Enter King Dushyanta, armed with a bow and arrow, in a chariot, chasing
an antelope, attended by his Charioteer_.

CHARIOTEER [_looking at the deer, and then at the King_].--
Great Prince,
    When on the antelope I bend my gaze,
    And on your Majesty, whose mighty bow
    Has its string firmly braced; before my eyes
    The god that wields the trident seems revealed,
    Chasing the deer that flies from him in vain.

KING.--Charioteer, this fleet antelope has drawn us far from my
attendants. See! there he runs:--
    Aye and anon his graceful neck he bends
    To cast a glance at the pursuing car;
    And dreading now the swift-descending shaft,
    Contracts into itself his slender frame:
    About his path, in scattered fragments strewn,
    The half-chewed grass falls from his panting mouth;
    See! in his airy bounds he seems to fly,
    And leaves no trace upon th'elastic turf.
          [_With astonishment_.
How now! swift as is our pursuit, I scarce can see him.

CHARIOTEER.--Sire, the ground here is full of hollows; I have therefore
drawn in the reins and checked the speed of the chariot. Hence the deer
has somewhat gained upon us. Now that we are passing over level ground,
we shall have no difficulty in overtaking him.

KING.--Loosen the reins, then.

CHARIOTEER.--The King is obeyed. [_Drives the chariot at full speed_.]
Great Prince, see! see!
    Responsive to the slackened rein, the steeds
    Chafing with eager rivalry, career
    With emulative fleetness o'er the plain;
    Their necks outstretched, their waving plumes, that late
    Fluttered above their brows, are motionless;
    Their sprightly ears, but now erect, bent low;
    Themselves unsullied by the circling dust,
    That vainly follows on their rapid course.

KING [_joyously_].--In good sooth, the horses seem as if they would
outstrip the steeds of Indra and the Sun.[33]
    That which but now showed to my view minute
    Quickly assumes dimension; that which seemed
    A moment since disjoined in diverse parts,
    Looks suddenly like one compacted whole;
    That which is really crooked in its shape
    In the far distance left, grows regular;
    Wondrous the chariot's speed, that in a breath,
    Makes the near distant and the distant near.

Now, Charioteer, see me kill the deer. [_Takes aim_.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Hold, O King! this deer belongs to our
hermitage. Kill it not! kill it not!

CHARIOTEER [_listening and looking_].--Great King, some hermits have
stationed themselves so as to screen the antelope at the very moment of
its coming within range of your arrow.

KING [_hastily_].--Then stop the horses.

CHARIOTEER.--I obey. [_Stops the chariot_.

_Enter a Hermit, and two others with him_.

HERMIT [_raising his hand_].--This deer, O King, belongs to our
hermitage. Kill it not! kill it not!
    Now heaven forbid this barbèd shaft descend
    Upon the fragile body of a fawn,
    Like fire upon a heap of tender flowers!
    Can thy steel bolts no meeter quarry find
    Than the warm life-blood of a harmless deer?
    Restore, great Prince, thy weapon to its quiver;
    More it becomes thy arms to shield the weak,
    Than to bring anguish on the innocent.

KING.--'Tis done. [_Replaces the arrow in its quiver_.

HERMIT.--Worthy is this action of a Prince, the light of Puru's race.
    Well does this act befit a Prince like thee,
    Right worthy is it of thine ancestry.
    Thy guerdon be a son of peerless worth,
    Whose wide dominion shall embrace the earth.

BOTH THE OTHER HERMITS [_raising their hands_].--May heaven indeed grant
thee a son, a sovereign of the earth from sea to sea!

KING [_bowing._]--I accept with gratitude a Bráhman's benediction.

HERMIT.--We came hither, mighty Prince, to collect sacrificial wood.
Here on the banks of the Máliní you may perceive the hermitage of the
great sage Kanwa. If other duties require not your presence, deign to
enter and accept our hospitality.
    When you behold our penitential rites
    Performed without impediment by Saints
    Rich only in devotion, then with pride
    Will you reflect, Such are the holy men
    Who call me Guardian; such the men for whom
    To wield the bow I bare my nervous arm,
    Scarred by the motion of the glancing string.

KING.--Is the Chief of your Society now at home?

HERMIT.--No; he has gone to Soma-tírtha to propitiate Destiny, which
threatens his daughter Śakoontalá with some calamity; but he has
commissioned her in his absence to entertain all guests with

KING.--Good! I will pay her a visit. She will make me acquainted with
the mighty sage's acts of penance and devotion.

HERMIT.--And we will depart on our errand.
          [_Exit with his companions_.

KING.--Charioteer, urge on the horses. We will at least purify our souls
by a sight of this hallowed retreat.

CHARIOTEER.--Your Majesty is obeyed.
          [_Drives the chariot with great velocity_.

KING [_looking all about him_].--Charioteer, even without being told, I
should have known that these were the precincts of a grove consecrated
to penitential rites.


KING.--Do not you observe?
    Beneath the trees, whose hollow trunks afford
    Secure retreat to many a nestling brood
    Of parrots, scattered grains of rice lie strewn.
    Lo! here and there are seen the polished slabs
    That serve to bruise the fruit of Ingudí.
    The gentle roe-deer, taught to trust in man,
    Unstartled hear our voices. On the paths
    Appear the traces of bark-woven vests
    Borne dripping from the limpid fount of waters.
    And mark! Laved are the roots of trees by deep canals,
    Whose glassy waters tremble in the breeze;
    The sprouting verdure of the leaves is dimmed
    By dusky wreaths of upward curling smoke
    From burnt oblations; and on new-mown lawns
    Around our car graze leisurely the fawns.

CHARIOTEER.--I observe it all.

KING [_advancing a little further_].--The inhabitants of this sacred
retreat must not be disturbed. Stay the chariot, that I may alight.

CHARIOTEER.--The reins are held in. Your Majesty may descend.

KING [_alighting_].--Charioteer, groves devoted to penance must be
entered in humble attire. Take these ornaments.
[_Delivers his ornaments and bow to the Charioteer_.]
Charioteer, see that the horses are watered, and attend to them until I
return from visiting the inhabitants of the hermitage.

CHARIOTEER.--I will.          [_Exit_.

KING [_walking and looking about_].--Here is the entrance to the
hermitage. I will now go in.
          [_Entering he feels a throbbing sensation in his arm_
    Serenest peace is in this calm retreat,
    By passion's breath unruffled; what portends
    My throbbing arm? Why should it whisper here
    Of happy love? Yet everywhere around us
    Stand the closed portals of events unknown.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--This way, my dear companions; this way.

KING [_listening_].--Hark! I hear voices to the right of yonder grove of
trees. I will walk in that direction. [_Walking and looking about_.] Ah!
here are the maidens of the hermitage coming this way to water the
shrubs, carrying watering-pots proportioned to their strength. [_Gazing
at them_.] How graceful they look!
    In palaces such charms are rarely ours;
    The woodland plants outshine the garden flowers.
I will conceal myself in this shade and watch them.
          [_Stands gazing at them_.

_Enter Śakoontalá, with her two female companions, employed in the
manner described_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--This way, my dear companions; this way.

ANASÚYÁ.--Dear Śakoontalá, one would think that father Kanwa had more
affection for the shrubs of the hermitage even than for you, seeing he
assigns to you who are yourself as delicate as the fresh-blown jasmine,
the task of filling with water the trenches which encircle their roots.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Dear Anasúyá, although I am charged by my good father with
this duty, yet I cannot regard it as a task. I really feel a sisterly
love for these plants.
          [_Continues watering the shrubs_.

KING.--Can this be the daughter of Kanwa? The saintly man, though
descended from the great Kaśyapa, must be very deficient in judgment to
habituate such a maiden to the life of a recluse.
    The sage who would this form of artless grace
    Inure to penance--thoughtlessly attempts
    To cleave in twain the hard acacia's stem
    With the soft edge of a blue lotus leaf.
Well! concealed behind this tree, I will watch her without raising her
suspicions.          [_Conceals himself_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Good Anasúyá, Priyamvadá has drawn this bark-dress too
tightly about my chest. I pray thee, loosen it a little.

ANASÚYÁ.--I will.          [_Loosens it_.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_smiling_].--Why do you lay the blame on me? Blame rather
your own blooming youthfulness which imparts fulness to your bosom.

KING.--A most just observation!
    This youthful form, whose bosom's swelling charms
    By the bark's knotted tissue are concealed,
    Like some fair bud close folded in its sheath,
    Gives not to view the blooming of its beauty.
But what am I saying? In real truth, this bark-dress, though ill-suited
to her figure, sets it off like an ornament.
    The lotus with the Saivala entwined
    Is not a whit less brilliant: dusky spots
    Heighten the lustre of the cold-rayed moon:
    This lovely maiden in her dress of bark
    Seems all the lovelier. E'en the meanest garb
    Gives to true beauty fresh attractiveness.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_looking before her_].--Yon Keśara-tree beckons to me with
its young shoots, which, as the breeze waves them to and fro, appear
like slender fingers. I will go and attend to it. [_Walks towards it_.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Dear Śakoontalá, prithee, rest in that attitude one moment.


PRIYAMVADÁ.--The Keśara-tree, whilst your graceful form bends about its
stem, appears as if it were wedded to some lovely twining creeper.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Ah! saucy girl, you are most appropriately named Priyamvadá
("Speaker of flattering things").

KING.--What Priyamvadá says, though complimentary, is nevertheless true.
    Her ruddy lip vies with the opening bud;
    Her graceful arms are as the twining stalks;
    And her whole form is radiant with the glow
    Of youthful beauty, as the tree with bloom.

ANASÚYÁ.--See, dear Śakoontalá, here is the young jasmine, which you
named "the Moonlight of the Grove," the self-elected wife of the
mango-tree. Have you forgotten it?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Rather will I forget myself. [_Approaching the plant and
looking at it_.] How delightful is the season when the jasmine-creeper
and the mango-tree seem thus to unite in mutual embraces! The fresh
blossoms of the jasmine resemble the bloom of a young bride, and the
newly-formed shoots of the mango appear to make it her natural
protector.          [_Continues gazing at it_.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_smiling_].--Do you know, my Anasúyá, why Śakoontalá gazes
so intently at the jasmine?

ANASÚYÁ.--No, indeed, I cannot imagine. I pray thee tell me.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--She is wishing that as the jasmine is united to a suitable
tree, so, in like manner, she may obtain a husband worthy of her.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Speak for yourself, girl; this is the thought in your own
mind.          [_Continues watering the flowers_.

KING.--Would that my union with her were permissible! and yet I hardly
dare hope that the maiden is sprung from a caste different from that of
the Head of the hermitage. But away with doubt:--
    That she is free to wed a warrior-king
    My heart attests. For, in conflicting doubts,
    The secret promptings of the good man's soul
    Are an unerring index of the truth.

However, come what may, I will ascertain the fact.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_in a flurry_].--Ah! a bee, disturbed by the sprinkling of
the water, has left the young jasmine, and is trying to settle on my
face.          [_Attempts to drive it away_.

KING [_gazing at her ardently_].--Beautiful! there is something charming
even in her repulse.
    Where'er the bee his eager onset plies,
    Now here, now there, she darts her kindling eyes:
    What love hath yet to teach, fear teaches now,
    The furtive glances and the frowning brow.
                                [_In a tone of envy_.
    Ah happy bee! how boldly dost thou try
    To steal the lustre from her sparkling eye;
    And in thy circling movements hover near,
    To murmur tender secrets in her ear;
    Or, as she coyly waves her hand, to sip
    Voluptuous nectar from her lower lip!
    While rising doubts my heart's fond hopes destroy,
    Thou dost the fulness of her charms enjoy.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--This impertinent bee will not rest quiet. I must move
elsewhere. [_Moving a few steps off, and casting a glance around_.] How
now! he is following me here. Help! my dear friends, help! deliver me
from the attacks of this troublesome insect.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--How can we deliver you? Call Dushyanta to your
aid. The sacred groves are under the king's special protection.

KING.--An excellent opportunity for me to show myself. Fear
not--[_Checks himself when the words are half-uttered._ _Aside_.] But
stay, if I introduce myself in this manner, they will know me to be the
King. Be it so, I will accost them, nevertheless.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_moving a step or two further off_].--What! it still
persists in following me.

KING [_advancing hastily_].--When mighty Puru's offspring sways the
    And o'er the wayward holds his threatening rod,
    Who dares molest the gentle maids that keep
    Their holy vigils here in Kanwa's grove?

          [_All look at the King, and are embarrassed_.

ANASÚYÁ.--Kind Sir, no outrage has been committed; only our dear friend
here was teased by the attacks of a troublesome bee.
          [_Points to Śakoontalá_.

KING [_turning to Śakoontalá_].--I trust all is well with your
devotional rites?

          [_Śakoontalá stands confused and silent_.

ANASÚYÁ.--All is well, indeed, now that we are honored by the reception
of a distinguished guest. Dear Śakoontalá, go, bring from the hermitage
an offering of flowers, rice, and fruit. This water that we have brought
with us will serve to bathe our guest's feet.

KING.--The rites of hospitality are already performed; your truly kind
words are the best offering I can receive.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--At least be good enough, gentle Sir, to sit down awhile,
and rest yourself on this seat shaded by the leaves of the Sapta-parna

KING.--You, too, must all be fatigued by your employment.

ANASÚYÁ.--Dear Śakoontalá, there is no impropriety in our sitting by the
side of our guest: come, let us sit down here.

          [_All sit down together_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--How is it that the sight of this man has made me
sensible of emotions inconsistent with religious vows?

KING [_gazing at them all by turns_].--How charmingly your friendship is
in keeping with the equality of your ages and appearance!

PRIYAMVADÁ [_aside to Anasúyá_].--Who can this person be, whose lively
yet dignified manner, and polite conversation, bespeak him a man of high

ANASÚYÁ.--I, too, my dear, am very curious to know. I will ask him
myself. [_Aloud_]. Your kind words, noble Sir, fill me with confidence,
and prompt me to inquire of what regal family our noble guest is the
ornament? what country is now mourning his absence? and what induced a
person so delicately nurtured to expose himself to the fatigue of
visiting this grove of penance?

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Be not troubled, O my heart, Anasúyá is giving
utterance to thy thoughts.

KING [_aside_].--How now shall I reply? shall I make myself known, or
shall I still disguise my real rank? I have it; I will answer her thus.
[_Aloud_]. I am the person charged by his majesty, the descendant of
Puru, with the administration of justice and religion; and am come to
this sacred grove to satisfy myself that the rites of the hermits are
free from obstruction.

ANASÚYÁ.--The hermits, then, and all the members of our religious
society have now a guardian.

          [_Śakoontalá gazes bashfully at the King_.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_perceiving the state of her feelings, and of
the King's. Aside to Śakoontalá_].--Dear Śakoontalá, if father Kanwa
were but at home to-day------

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_angrily_].--What if he were?

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--He would honor this our distinguished guest
with an offering of the most precious of his possessions.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Go to! you have some silly idea in your minds. I will not
listen to such remarks.

KING.--May I be allowed, in my turn, to ask you maidens a few
particulars respecting your friend?

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Your request, Sir, is an honor.

KING.--The sage Kanwa lives in the constant practice of austerities.
How, then, can this friend of yours be called his daughter?

ANASÚYÁ.--I will explain to you, Sir. You have heard of an illustrious
sage of regal caste, Viśwámitra, whose family name is Kaúsika.

KING.--I have.

ANASÚYÁ.--Know that he is the real father of our friend. The venerable
Kanwa is only her reputed father. He it was who brought her up, when she
was deserted by her mother.

KING.--"Deserted by her mother!" My curiosity is excited; pray let me
hear the story from the beginning.

ANASÚYÁ.--You shall hear it, Sir. Some time since, this sage of regal
caste, while performing a most severe penance on the banks of the river
Godávarí, excited the jealousy and alarm of the gods; insomuch that they
despatched a lovely nymph named Menaká to interrupt his devotions.

KING.--The inferior gods, I am aware, are jealous of the power which the
practice of excessive devotion confers on mortals.

ANASÚYÁ.--Well, then, it happened that Viśwámitra, gazing on the
bewitching beauty of that nymph at a season when, spring being in its
          [_Stops short, and appears confused_.

KING.--The rest may be easily divined. Śakoontalá, then, is the
offspring of the nymph.

ANASÚYÁ.--Just so.

KING.--It is quite intelligible.
    How could a mortal to such charms give birth?
    The lightning's radiance flashes not from earth.

          [_Śakoontalá remains modestly seated with downcast eyes.

[Aside_]. And so my desire has really scope for its indulgence. Yet I am
still distracted by doubts, remembering the pleasantry of her female
companions respecting her wish for a husband.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_looking with a smile at Śakoontalá, and then turning
towards the King_].--You seem desirous, Sir, of asking something

          [_Śakoontalá makes a chiding gesture with her finger_.

KING.--You conjecture truly. I am so eager to hear the particulars of
your friend's history, that I have still another question to ask.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Scruple not to do so. Persons who lead the life of hermits
may be questioned unreservedly.

KING.--I wish to ascertain one point respecting your friend--
    Will she be bound by solitary vows
    Opposed to love, till her espousals only?
    Or ever dwell with these her cherished fawns,
    Whose eyes, in lustre vieing with her own,
    Return her gaze of sisterly affection?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Hitherto, Sir, she has been engaged in the practice of
religious duties, and has lived in subjection to her foster-father; but
it is now his fixed intention to give her away in marriage to a husband
worthy of her.

KING [_aside_].--His intention may be easily carried into effect.
    Be hopeful, O my heart, thy harrowing doubts
    Are past and gone; that which thou didst believe
    To be as unapproachable as fire,
    Is found a glittering gem that may be touched.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_pretending anger_].--Anasúyá, I shall leave you.

ANASÚYÁ.--Why so?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--That I may go and report this impertinent Priyamvadá to the
venerable matron, Gautamí.[34]

ANASÚYÁ.--Surely, dear friend, it would not be right to leave a
distinguished guest before he has received the rights of hospitality,
and quit his presence in this wilful manner.

          [_Śakoontalá, without answering a word, moves away_.

KING [_making a movement to arrest her departure, but checking himself.
Aside_].--Ah! a lover's feelings betray themselves by his gestures.
    When I would fain have stayed the maid, a sense
    Of due decorum checked my bold design:
    Though I have stirred not, yet my mien betrays
    My eagerness to follow on her steps.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_holding Śakoontalá back_].--Dear Śakoontalá, it does not
become you to go away in this manner.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_frowning_].--Why not, pray?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--You are under a promise to water two more shrubs for me.
When you have paid your debt, you shall go, and not before.
          [_Forces her to turn back_.

KING.--Spare her this trouble, gentle maiden. The exertion of watering
the shrubs has already fatigued her.
    The water-jar has overtasked the strength
    Of her slim arms; her shoulders droop, her hands
    Are ruddy with the glow of quickened pulses;
    E'en now her agitated breath imparts
    Unwonted tremor to her heaving breast;
    The pearly drops that mar the recent bloom
    Of the Śirísha pendant in her ear,
    Gather in clustering circles on her cheek;
    Loosed is the fillet of her hair: her hand
    Restrains the locks that struggle to be free.
Suffer me, then, thus to discharge the debt for you.

[_Offers a ring to Priyamvadá. Both the maidens, reading the name
Dushyanta on the seal, look at each other with surprise._

KING.--Nay, think not that I am King Dushyanta. I am only the king's
officer, and this is the ring which I have received from him as my

PRIYAMVADÁ.--The greater the reason you ought not to part with the ring
from your finger. I am content to release her from her obligation at
your simple request. [_With a smile_.] Now, Śakoontalá my love, you are
at liberty to retire, thanks to the intercession of this noble stranger,
or rather of this mighty prince.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--My movements are no longer under my own control.
[_Aloud_.] Pray, what authority have you over me, either to send me away
or keep me back?

KING [_gazing at Śakoontalá. Aside_].--Would I could ascertain whether
she is affected towards me as I am towards her! At any rate, my hopes
are free to indulge themselves. Because,
    Although she mingles not her words with mine,
    Yet doth her listening ear drink in my speech;
    Although her eye shrinks from my ardent gaze,
    No form but mine attracts its timid glances.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--O hermits, be ready to protect the
animals belonging to our hermitage. King Dushyanta, amusing himself with
hunting, is near at hand.
    Lo! by the feet of prancing horses raised,
    Thick clouds of moving dust, like glittering swarms
    Of locusts in the glow of eventide,
    Fall on the branches of our sacred trees;
    Where hang the dripping vests of woven bark,
    Bleached by the waters of the cleansing fountain.
And see!
    Scared by the royal chariot in its course,
    With headlong haste an elephant invades
    The hallowed precincts of our sacred grove;
    Himself the terror of the startled deer,
    And an embodied hindrance to our rites.
    The hedge of creepers clinging to his feet,
    Feeble obstruction to his mad career,
    Is dragged behind him in a tangled chain;
    And with terrific shock one tusk he drives
    Into the riven body of a tree,
    Sweeping before him all impediments.

KING [_aside_].--Out upon it! my retinue are looking for me, and are
disturbing this holy retreat. Well! there is no help for it; I must go
and meet them.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Noble Sir, we are terrified by the accidental
disturbance caused by the wild elephant. Permit us to return into the

KING [_hastily_].--Go, gentle maidens. It shall be our care that no
injury happen to the hermitage.          [_All rise up_.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--After such poor hospitality we are ashamed to
request the honor of a second visit from you.

KING.--Say not so. The mere sight of you, sweet maidens, has been to me
the best entertainment.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Anasúyá, a pointed blade of Kuśa-grass[35] has pricked my
foot; and my bark-mantle is caught in the branch of a Kuruvaka-bush. Be
so good as to wait for me until I have disentangled it.
[_Exit with her two companions, after making pretexts for delay, that
she may steal glances at the King_.

KING.--I have no longer any desire to return to the city. I will
therefore rejoin my attendants, and make them encamp somewhere in the
vicinity of this sacred grove. In good truth, Śakoontalá has taken such
possession of my thoughts, that I cannot turn myself in any other
    My limbs drawn onward leave my heart behind,
    Like silken pennon borne against the wind.

[33] The speed of the chariot resembled that of the wind and the sun.
Indra was the god of the firmament or atmosphere. The sun, in Hindoo
mythology, is represented as seated in a chariot drawn by seven green
horses, having before him a lovely youth without legs, who acts as
charioteer, and who is Aruna, or the Dawn personified.

[34] The Matron or Superior of the female part of the society of
hermits. Their authority resembled that of an abbess in a convent of

[35] A grass held sacred by the Hindoos and freely used at their
religious ceremonies. Its leaves are very long and taper to a
needle-like point.


Scene.--A Plain on the Skirts of the Forest

_Enter the Jester, Máthavya, in a melancholy mood_.

MÁTHAVYA [_sighing_].--Heigh-ho! what an unlucky fellow I am! worn to a
shadow by my royal friend's sporting propensities. "Here's a deer!"
"There goes a boar!" "Yonder's a tiger!" This is the only burden of our
talk, while in the heat of the meridian sun we toil on from jungle to
jungle, wandering about in the paths of the woods, where the trees
afford us no shelter. Are we thirsty? We have nothing to drink but the
foul water of some mountain stream, filled with dry leaves which give it
a most pungent flavor. Are we hungry? We have nothing to eat but roast
game, which we must swallow down at odd times, as best we can. Even at
night there is no peace to be had. Sleeping is out of the question, with
joints all strained by dancing attendance upon my sporting friend; or if
I do happen to doze, I am awakened at the very earliest dawn by the
horrible din of a lot of rascally beaters and huntsmen, who must needs
surround the wood before sunrise, and deafen me with their clatter. Nor
are these my only troubles. Here's a fresh grievance, like a new boil
rising upon an old one! Yesterday, while we were lagging behind, my
royal friend entered yonder hermitage after a deer; and there, as
ill-luck would have it? caught sight of a beautiful girl, called
Śakoontalá, the hermit's daughter. From that moment, not another thought
about returning to the city! and all last night, not a wink of sleep did
he get for thinking of the damsel. What is to be done? At any rate, I
will be on the watch for him as soon as he has finished his toilet.
[[_Walking and looking about_.] Oh! here he comes, attended by the
Yavana women with bows in their hands, and wearing garlands of wild
flowers. What shall I do? I have it. I will pretend to stand in the
easiest attitude for resting my bruised and crippled limbs.
          [_Stands leaning on a staff_.

_Enter King Dushyanta, followed by a retinue in the manner described_.

KING.--True, by no easy conquest may I win her,
    Yet are my hopes encouraged by her mien.
    Love is not yet triumphant; but, methinks,
    The hearts of both are ripe for his delights.
[_Smiling_.] Ah! thus does the lover delude himself; judging of the
state of his loved one's feelings by his own desires. But yet,
    The stolen glance with half-averted eye,
    The hesitating gait, the quick rebuke
    Addressed to her companion, who would fain
    Have stayed her counterfeit departure; these
    Are signs not unpropitious to my suit.
    So eagerly the lover feeds his hopes,
    Claiming each trivial gesture for his own.

MÁTHAVYA [_still in the same attitude_].--Ah, friend, my hands cannot
move to greet you with the usual salutation. I can only just command my
lips to wish your majesty victory.

KING.--Why, what has paralyzed your limbs?

MÁTHAVYA.--You might as well ask me how my eye comes to water after you
have poked your finger into it.

KING.--I don't understand you; speak more intelligibly.

MÁTHAVYA.--Ah, my dear friend, is yonder upright reed transformed into a
crooked plant by its own act, or by the force of the current?

KING.--The current of the river causes it, I suppose.

MÁTHAVYA.--Aye; just as you are the cause of my crippled limbs.

KING.--How so?

MÁTHAVYA.--Here are you living the life of a wild man of the woods in a
savage, unfrequented region, while your state affairs are left to shift
for themselves; and as for poor me, I am no longer master of my own
limbs, but have to follow you about day after day in your chases after
wild animals, till my bones are all crippled and out of joint. Do, my
dear friend, let me have one day's rest.

KING [_aside_].--This fellow little knows, while he talks in this
manner, that my mind is wholly engrossed by recollections of the
hermit's daughter, and quite as disinclined to the chase as his own.
    No longer can I bend my well-braced bow
    Against the timid deer; nor e'er again
    With well-aimed arrows can I think to harm
    These her beloved associates, who enjoy
    The privilege of her companionship;
    Teaching her tender glances in return.

MÁTHAVYA [_looking in the King's face_].--I may as well speak to the
winds, for any attention you pay to my requests. I suppose you have
something on your mind, and are talking it over to yourself.

KING [_smiling_].--I was only thinking that I ought not to disregard a
friend's request.

MÁTHAVYA.--Then may the King live forever!          [_Moves off_.

KING.--Stay a moment, my dear friend. I have something else to say to

MÁTHAVYA.--Say on, then.

KING.--When you have rested, you must assist me in another business,
which will give you no fatigue.

MÁTHAVYA.--In eating something nice, I hope.

KING.--You shall know at some future time.

MÁTHAVYA.--No time better than the present.

KING.--What ho! there.

WARDER [_entering_].--What are your Majesty's commands?

KING.--O Raivataka! bid the General of the forces attend.

WARDER.--I will, Sire.        [_Exit and reënters with the General_]
Come forward, General; his Majesty is looking towards you, and has some
order to give you.

GENERAL [_looking at the King_].--Though hunting is known to produce ill
effects, my royal master has derived only benefit from it. For
    Like the majestic elephant that roams
    O'er mountain wilds, so does the King display
    A stalwart frame, instinct with vigorous life.
    His brawny arms and manly chest are scored
    By frequent passage of the sounding string;
    Unharmed he bears the mid-day sun; no toil
    His mighty spirit daunts; his sturdy limbs,
    Stripped of redundant flesh, relinquish nought
    Of their robust proportions, but appear
    In muscle, nerve, and sinewy fibre cased.
[_Approaching the King_.] Victory to the King! We have tracked the wild
beasts to their lairs in the forest. Why delay, when everything is

KING.--My friend Máthavya here has been disparaging the chase, till he
has taken away all my relish for it.

GENERAL [_aside to Máthavya_].--Persevere in your opposition, my good
fellow; I will sound the King's real feelings, and humor him
accordingly. [_Aloud_]. The blockhead talks nonsense, and your Majesty,
in your own person, furnishes the best proof of it. Observe, Sire, the
advantage and pleasure the hunter derives from the chase.
    Freed from all grosser influences, his frame
    Loses its sluggish humors, and becomes
    Buoyant, compact, and fit for bold encounter.
    'Tis his to mark with joy the varied passions,
    Fierce heats of anger, terror, blank dismay,
    Of forest animals that cross his path.
    Then what a thrill transports the hunter's soul,
    When, with unerring course, his driven shaft
    Pierces the moving mark! Oh! 'tis conceit
    In moralists to call the chase a vice;
    What recreation can compare with this?

MÁTHAVYA [_angrily_].--Away! tempter, away! The King has recovered his
senses, and is himself again. As for you, you may, if you choose, wander
about from forest to forest, till some old bear seizes you by the nose,
and makes a mouthful of you.

KING.--My good General, as we are just now in the neighborhood of a
consecrated grove, your panegyric upon hunting is somewhat ill-timed,
and I cannot assent to all you have said. For the present,
    All undisturbed the buffaloes shall sport
    In yonder pool, and with their ponderous horns
    Scatter its tranquil waters, while the deer,
    Couched here and there in groups beneath the shade
    Of spreading branches, ruminate in peace.
    And all securely shall the herd of boars
    Feed on the marshy sedge; and thou, my bow,
    With slackened string enjoy a long repose.

GENERAL.--So please your Majesty, it shall be as you desire.

KING.--Recall, then, the beaters who were sent in advance to surround
the forest. My troops must not be allowed to disturb this sacred
retreat, and irritate its pious inhabitants.
    Know that within the calm and cold recluse
    Lurks unperceived a germ of smothered flame,
    All-potent to destroy; a latent fire
    That rashly kindled bursts with fury forth:--
    As in the disc of crystal that remains
    Cool to the touch, until the solar ray
    Falls on its polished surface, and excites
    The burning heat that lies within concealed.

GENERAL.--Your Majesty's commands shall be obeyed.

MÁTHAVYA.--Off with you, you son of a slave! Your nonsense won't go down
here, my fine fellow.          [_Exit General_.

KING [_looking at his attendants_].--Here, women, take my hunting-dress;
and you, Raivataka, keep guard carefully outside.

ATTENDANTS.--We will, sire.          [_Exeunt._

MÁTHAVYA.--Now that you have got rid of these plagues, who have been
buzzing about us like so many flies, sit down, do, on that stone slab,
with the shade of the tree as your canopy, and I will seat myself by you
quite comfortably.

KING.--Go you, and sit down first.

MÁTHAVYA.--Come along, then.

          [_Both walk on a little way, and seat themselves_.

KING.--Máthavya, it may be said of you that you have never beheld
anything worth seeing: for your eyes have not yet looked upon the
loveliest object in creation.

MÁTHAVYA.--How can you say so, when I see your Majesty before me at this

KING.--It is very natural that everyone should consider his own friend
perfect; but I was alluding to Śakoontalá, the brightest ornament of
these hallowed groves.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--I understand well enough, but I am not going to
humor him. [_Aloud_.] If, as you intimate, she is a hermit's daughter,
you cannot lawfully ask her in marriage. You may as well, then, dismiss
her from your mind, for any good the mere sight of her can do.

KING.--Think you that a descendant of the mighty Puru could fix his
affections on an unlawful object?
    Though, as men say, the offspring of the sage,
    The maiden to a nymph celestial owes
    Her being, and by her mother left on earth,
    Was found and nurtured by the holy man
    As his own daughter, in this hermitage;--
    So, when dissevered from its parent stalk,
    Some falling blossom of the jasmine, wafted
    Upon the sturdy sunflower, is preserved
    By its support from premature decay.

MÁTHAVYA [_smiling_].--This passion of yours for a rustic maiden, when
you have so many gems of women at home in your palace, seems to me very
like the fancy of a man who is tired of sweet dates, and longs for sour
tamarinds as a variety.

KING.--You have not seen her, or you would not talk in this fashion.

MÁTHAVYA.--I can quite understand it must require something surpassingly
attractive to excite the admiration of such a great man as you.

KING.--I will describe her, my dear friend, in a few words--
    Man's all-wise Maker, wishing to create
    A faultless form, whose matchless symmetry
    Should far transcend Creation's choicest works,
    Did call together by his mighty will,
    And garner up in his eternal mind,
    A bright assemblage of all lovely things:--
    And then, as in a picture, fashion them
    Into one perfect and ideal form.
    Such the divine, the wondrous prototype,
    Whence her fair shape was moulded into being.

MÁTHAVYA.--If that's the case, she must indeed throw all other beauties
into the shade.

KING.--To my mind she really does.
    This peerless maid is like a fragrant flower,
    Whose perfumed breath has never been diffused;
    A tender bud, that no profaning hand
    Has dared to sever from its parent stalk;
    A gem of priceless water, just released
    Pure and unblemished from its glittering bed.
    Or may the maiden haply be compared
    To sweetest honey, that no mortal lip
    Has sipped; or, rather to the mellowed fruit
    Of virtuous actions in some former birth,
    Now brought to full perfection? Lives the man
    Whom bounteous heaven has destined to espouse her?

MÁTHAVYA.--Make haste, then, to her aid; you have no time to lose, if
you don't wish this fruit of all the virtues to drop into the mouth of
some greasy-headed rustic of devout habits.

KING.--The lady is not her own mistress, and her foster-father is not at

MÁTHAVYA.--Well, but tell me, did she look at all kindly upon you?

KING.--Maidens brought up in a hermitage are naturally shy and reserved;
but for all that,
    She did look towards me, though she quick withdrew
    Her stealthy glances when she met my gaze;
    She smiled upon me sweetly, but disguised
    With maiden grace the secret of her smiles.
    Coy love was half unveiled; then, sudden checked
    By modesty, left half to be divined.

MÁTHAVYA.--Why, of course, my dear friend, you never could seriously
expect that at the very first sight she would fall over head and ears in
love with you, and without more ado come and sit in your lap.

KING.--When we parted from each other, she betrayed her liking for me by
clearer indications, but still with the utmost modesty.
    Scarce had the fair one from my presence passed,
    When, suddenly, without apparent cause,
    She stopped, and counterfeiting pain, exclaimed,
    "My foot is wounded by this prickly grass."
    Then glancing at me tenderly, she feigned
    Another charming pretext for delay,
    Pretending that a bush had caught her robe,
    And turned as if to disentangle it.

MÁTHAVYA.--I trust you have laid in a good stock of provisions, for I
see you intend making this consecrated grove your game-preserve, and
will be roaming here in quest of sport for some time to come.

KING.--You must know, my good fellow, that I have been recognized by
some of the inmates of the hermitage. Now I want the assistance of your
fertile invention, in devising some excuse for going there again.

MÁTHAVYA.--There is but one expedient that I can suggest. You are the
King, are you not?

KING.--What then?

MÁTHAVYA.--Say you have come for the sixth part of their grain, which
they owe you for tribute.

KING.--No, no, foolish man; these hermits pay me a very different kind
of tribute, which I value more than heaps of gold or jewels; observe,
    The tribute which my other subjects bring
    Must moulder into dust, but holy men
    Present me with a portion of the fruits
    Of penitential services and prayers--
    A precious and imperishable gift.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--We are fortunate; here is the object of
our search.

KING [_listening],_--Surely those must be the voices of hermits, to
judge by their deep tones.

WARDER [_entering],_--Victory to the King! two young hermits are in
waiting outside, and solicit an audience of your Majesty.

KING.--Introduce them immediately.

WARDER.--I will, my liege. [_Goes out, and reënters with two young
Hermits_.] This way, Sirs, this way.

          [_Both the Hermits look at the King_

FIRST HERMIT.--How majestic is his mien, and yet what confidence it
inspires! But this might be expected in a king whose character and
habits have earned for him a title only one degree removed from that of
a Saint.
    In this secluded grove, whose sacred joys
    All may participate, he deigns to dwell
    Like one of us; and daily treasures up
    A store of purest merit for himself,
    By the protection of our holy rites.
    In his own person wondrously are joined
    Both majesty and saintlike holiness:--
    And often chanted by inspired bards,
    His hallowed title of "Imperial Sage"
    Ascends in joyous accents to the skies.

SECOND HERMIT.--Bear in mind, Gautama, that this is the great Dushyanta,
the friend of Indra.

FIRST HERMIT.--What of that?

SECOND HERMIT.--Where is the wonder if his nervous arm,
    Puissant and massive as the iron bar
    That binds a castle-gateway, singly sways
    The sceptre of the universal earth,
    E'en to its dark-green boundary of waters?
    Or if the gods, beholden to his aid
    In their fierce warfare with the powers of hell,
    Should blend his name with Indra's in their songs
    Of victory, and gratefully accord
    No lower meed of praise to his braced bow,
    Than to the thunders of the god of heaven?

BOTH THE HERMITS [_approaching_].--Victory to the King!

KING [_rising from his seat_].--Hail to you both!

BOTH THE HERMITS.--Heaven bless your Majesty!

          [_They offer fruits_.

KING [_respectfully receiving the offering_].--Tell me, I pray you, the
object of your visit.

BOTH THE HERMITS.--The inhabitants of the hermitage having heard of your
Majesty's sojourn in our neighborhood, make this humble petition.

KING.--What are their commands?

BOTH THE HERMITS.--In the absence of our Superior, the great Sage Kanwa,
evil demons are disturbing our sacrificial rites.[36] Deign, therefore,
accompanied by your charioteer, to take up your abode in our hermitage
for a few days.

KING.--I am honored by your invitation.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--Most opportune and convenient, certainly!

KING [_smiling_].--Ho! there, Raivataka! Tell the charioteer from me to
bring round the chariot with my bow.

WARDER.--I will, Sire.           [_Exit._

BOTH THE HERMITS [_joyfully_].--Well it becomes the King by acts of
    To emulate the virtues of his race.
    Such acts thy lofty destiny attest;
    Thy mission is to succor the distressed.

KING [_bowing to the Hermits_].--Go first, reverend Sirs, I will follow
you immediately.

BOTH THE HERMITS.--May victory attend you!          [_Exeunt._

KING.--My dear Máthavya, are you not full of longing to see Śakoontalá?

MÁTHAVYA.--To tell you the truth, though I was just now brimful of
desire to see her, I have not a drop left since this piece of news about
the demons.

KING.--Never fear; you shall keep close to me for protection.

MÁTHAVYA.--Well, you must be my guardian-angel, and act the part of a
very Vishnu[37] to me.

WARDER--[_entering_].--Sire, the chariot is ready, and only waits to
conduct you to victory. But here is a messenger named Karabhaka, just
arrived from your capital, with a message from the Queen, your mother.

KING--[_respectfully_].--How say you? a messenger from the venerable

WARDER.--Even so.

KING.--Introduce him at once.

WARDER.--I will, Sire. [_Goes out, and re-ënters with Karabhaka_.]
Behold the King! Approach.

KARABHAKA.--Victory to the King! The Queen-mother bids me say that in
four days from the present time she intends celebrating a solemn
ceremony for the advancement and preservation of her son. She expects
that your Majesty will honor her with your presence on that occasion.

KING.--This places me in a dilemma. Here, on the one hand, is the
commission of these holy men to be executed; and, on the other, the
command of my revered parent to be obeyed. Both duties are too sacred to
be neglected. What is to be done?

MÁTHAVYA.--You will have to take up an intermediate position between the
two, like King Triśanku, who was suspended between heaven and earth,
because the sage Viśwámitra commanded him to mount up to heaven, and the
gods ordered him down again.

KING.--I am certainly very much perplexed. For here,
    Two different duties are required of me
    In widely distant places; how can I
    In my own person satisfy them both?
    Thus is my mind distracted and impelled
    In opposite directions, like a stream
    That, driven back by rocks, still rushes on,
    Forming two currents in its eddying course.
[_Reflecting_.] Friend Máthavya, as you were my playfellow in childhood,
the Queen has always received you like a second son; go you, then, back
to her and tell her of my solemn engagement to assist these holy men.
You can supply my place in the ceremony, and act the part of a son to
the Queen.

MÁTHAVYA.--With the greatest pleasure in the world; but don't suppose
that I am really coward enough to have the slightest fear of those
trumpery demons.

KING [_smiling_].--Oh! of course not; a great Bráhman like you could not
possibly give way to such weakness.

MÁTHAVYA.--You must let me travel in a manner suitable to the King's
younger brother.

KING.--Yes, I shall send my retinue with you, that there may be no
further disturbance in this sacred forest.

MÁTHAVYA [_with a strut_].--Already I feel quite like a young prince.

KING [_aside_].--This is a giddy fellow, and in all probability he will
let out the truth about my present pursuit to the women of the palace.
What is to be done? I must say something to deceive him. [_Aloud to
Máthavya, taking him by the hand_.] Dear friend, I am going to the
hermitage wholly and solely out of respect for its pious inhabitants,
and not because I have really any liking for Śakoontalá, the hermit's
daughter. Observe,
    What suitable communion could there be
    Between a monarch and a rustic girl?
    I did but feign an idle passion, friend,
    Take not in earnest what was said in jest.

MÁTHAVYA.--Don't distress yourself; I quite understand.


[36] The religious rites of holy men were often disturbed by certain
evil spirits called Rákshasas, who were the determined enemies of piety
and devotion.

[37] Vishnu, the Preserver, was one of the three principal gods.


Scene.--The Hermitage

_Enter a young Bráhman, carrying bundles of Kuśa-grass for the use of
the sacrificing priests_.

YOUNG BRÁHMAN.--How wonderful is the power of King Dushyanta! No sooner
did he enter our hermitage, than we were able to proceed with our
sacrificial rites, unmolested by the evil demons.
    No need to fix the arrow to the bow;
    The mighty monarch sounds the quivering string,
    And, by the thunder of his arms dismayed,
    Our demon foes are scattered to the wind.
I must now, therefore, make haste and deliver to the sacrificing priests
these bundles of Kuśa-grass, to be strewn round the altar. [_Walking and
looking about; then addressing someone off the stage_.] Why, Priyamvadá,
for whose use are you carrying that ointment of Usíra-root and those
lotus leaves with fibres attached to them? [_Listening for her answer_.]
What say you?--that Śakoontalá is suffering from fever produced by
exposure to the sun, and that this ointment is to cool her burning
frame? Nurse her with care, then, Priyamvadá, for she is cherished by
our reverend Superior as the very breath of his nostrils. I, for my
part, will contrive that soothing waters, hallowed in the sacrifice, be
administered to her by the hands of Gautamí.


Scene.--The Sacred Grove

_Enter King Dushyanta, with the air of one in love_.

KING [_sighing thoughtfully_].--The holy sage possesses magic power
    In virtue of his penance; she, his ward,
    Under the shadow of his tutelage
    Rests in security. I know it well;
    Yet sooner shall the rushing cataract
    In foaming eddies re-ascend the steep,
    Than my fond heart turn back from its pursuit.

God of Love! God of the flowery shafts![38] we are all of us cruelly
deceived by thee, and by the Moon, however deserving of confidence you
may both appear.

    For not to us do these thine arrows seem
    Pointed with tender flowerets; not to us
    Doth the pale moon irradiate the earth
    With beams of silver fraught with cooling dews:--
    But on our fevered frames the moon-beams fall
    Like darts of fire, and every flower-tipped shaft
    Of Káma, as it probes our throbbing hearts,
    Seems to be barbed with hardest adamant.

Adorable god of love! hast thou no pity for me? [_In a tone of
anguish_.] How can thy arrows be so sharp when they are pointed with
flowers? Ah! I know the reason:

    E'en now in thine unbodied essence lurks
    The fire of Siva's anger, like the flame
    That ever hidden in the secret depths
    Of ocean, smoulders there unseen. How else
    Couldst thou, all immaterial as thou art,
    Inflame our hearts thus fiercely?--thou, whose form
    Was scorched to ashes by a sudden flash
    From the offended god's terrific eye.
Yet, methinks,
    Welcome this anguish, welcome to my heart
    These rankling wounds inflicted by the god,
    Who on his scutcheon bears the monster-fish
    Slain by his prowess: welcome death itself,
    So that, commissioned by the lord of love,
    This fair one be my executioner.

Adorable divinity! Can I by no reproaches excite your commiseration?

    Have I not daily offered at thy shrine
    Innumerable vows, the only food
    Of thine ethereal essence? Are my prayers
    Thus to be slighted? Is it meet that thou
    Shouldst aim thy shafts at thy true votary's heart,
    Drawing thy bow-string even to thy ear?

[_Pacing up and down in a melancholy manner_.] Now that the holy men
have completed their rites, and have no more need of my services, how
shall I dispel my melancholy? [_Sighing._ I have but one resource. Oh
for another sight of the idol of my soul! I will seek her. [_Glancing at
the sun._] In all probability, as the sun's heat is now at its height,
Śakoontalá is passing her time under the shade of the bowers on the
banks of the Máliní, attended by her maidens. I will go and look for her
there. [_Walking and looking about._] I suspect the fair one has but
just passed by this avenue of young-trees.

    Here, as she tripped along, her fingers plucked
    The opening buds: these lacerated plants,
    Shorn of their fairest blossoms by her hand,
    Seem like dismembered trunks, whose recent wounds
    Are still unclosed; while from the bleeding socket
    Of many a severed stalk, the milky juice
    Still slowly trickles, and betrays her path.

[_Feeling a breeze._] What a delicious breeze meets me in this spot!

    Here may the zephyr, fragrant with the scent
    Of lotuses, and laden with the spray
    Caught from the waters of the rippling stream,
    Fold in its close embrace my fevered limbs.

[_Walking and looking about._] She must be somewhere in the neighborhood
of this arbor of overhanging creepers, enclosed by plantations of cane.
          [_Looking down._]

    For at the entrance here I plainly see
    A line of footsteps printed in the sand.
    Here are the fresh impressions of her feet;
    Their well-known outline faintly marked in front,
    More deeply towards the heel; betokening
    The graceful undulation of her gait.

I will peep through those branches. [_Walking and looking. With
transport._] Ah! now my eyes are gratified by an entrancing sight.
Yonder is the beloved of my heart reclining on a rock strewn with
flowers, and attended by her two friends. How fortunate! Concealed
behind the leaves, I will listen to their conversation, without raising
their suspicions.          [_Stands concealed, and gazes at them._]

_Śakoontalá and her two attendants, holding fans in their hands are
discovered as described_.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_fanning her. In a tone of affection._]--Dearest
Śakoontalá, is the breeze raised by these broad lotus leaves refreshing
to you?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Dear friends, why should you trouble yourselves to fan me?

          [_Priyamvadá and Anasúyá look sorrowfully at one another._]

KING.--Śakoontalá seems indeed to be seriously ill. [_Thoughtfully._]Can
it be the intensity of the heat that has affected her? or does my heart
suggest the true cause of her malady? [_Gazing at her passionately._]
Why should I doubt it?
    The maiden's spotless bosom is o'erspread
    With cooling balsam; on her slender arm
    Her only bracelet, twined with lotus stalks,
    Hangs loose and withered; her recumbent form
    Expresses languor. Ne'er could noon-day sun
    Inflict such fair disorder on a maid--
    No, love, and love alone, is hereto blame.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_aside to Anasúyá._]--I have observed, Anasúyá, that
Śakoontalá has been indisposed ever since her first interview with King
Dushyanta. Depend upon it, her ailment is to be traced to this source.

ANASÚYÁ.--The same suspicion, dear Priyamvadá, has crossed my mind. But
I will at once ask her and ascertain the truth. [_Aloud._] Dear
Śakoontalá, I am about to put a question to you. Your indisposition is
really very serious.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_half-rising from her couch_].--What were you going to ask?

ANASÚYÁ.--We know very little about love-matters, dear Śakoontalá; but
for all that, I cannot help suspecting your present state to be
something similar to that of the lovers we have read about in romances.
Tell us frankly what is the cause of your disorder. It is useless to
apply a remedy, until the disease be understood.

KING.--Anasúyá bears me out in my suspicion.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--I am, indeed, deeply in love; but cannot rashly
disclose my passion to these young girls.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--What Anasúyá says, dear Śakoontalá, is very just. Why give
so little heed to your ailment? Every day you are becoming thinner;
though I must confess your complexion is still as beautiful as ever.

KING.--Priyamvadá speaks most truly.
    Sunk is her velvet cheek; her wasted bosom
    Loses its fulness; e'en her slender waist
    Grows more attenuate; her face is wan,
    Her shoulders droop;--as when the vernal blasts
    Sear the young blossoms of the Mádhaví,
    Blighting their bloom; so mournful is the change,
    Yet in its sadness, fascinating still,
    Inflicted by the mighty lord of love
    On the fair figure of the hermit's daughter.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Dear friends, to no one would I rather reveal the nature of
my malady than to you; but I should only be troubling you.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Nay, this is the very point about which we are
so solicitous. Sorrow shared with affectionate friends is relieved of
half its poignancy.

KING.--Pressed by the partners of her joys and griefs, Her much beloved
companions, to reveal The cherished secret locked within her breast,
She needs must utter it; although her looks Encourage me to hope, my
bosom throbs As anxiously I listen for her answer.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Know then, dear friends, that from the first moment the
illustrious Prince, who is the guardian of our sacred grove, presented
himself to my sight--
          [_Stops short, and appears confused._]

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Say on, dear Śakoontalá, say on.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Ever since that happy moment, my heart's affections have
been fixed upon him, and my energies of mind and body have all deserted
me, as you see.

KING [_with rapture_].--Her own lips have uttered the words I most
longed to hear.
    Love lit the flame, and Love himself allays
    My burning fever, as when gathering clouds
    Rise o'er the earth in summer's dazzling noon,
    And grateful showers dispel the morning heat.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--You must consent, then, dear friends, to contrive some
means by which I may find favor with the King, or you will have ere long
to assist at my funeral.

KING [_with rapture_].--Enough! These words remove all my doubts.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_aside to Anasúyá_].--She is far gone in love, dear Anasúyá,
and no time ought to be lost. Since she has fixed her affections on a
monarch who is the ornament of Puru's line, we need not hesitate for a
moment to express our approval.

ANASÚYÁ.--I quite agree with you.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_aloud_].--We wish you joy, dear Śakoontalá. Your affections
are fixed on an object in every respect worthy of you. The noblest river
will unite itself to the ocean, and the lovely Mádhaví-creeper clings
naturally to the Mango, the only tree capable of supporting it.

KING.--Why need we wonder if the beautiful constellation Viśákhá pines
to be united with the Moon.

ANASÚYÁ.--By what stratagem can we best secure to our friend the
accomplishment of her heart's desire, both speedily and secretly?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--The latter point is all we have to think about. As to
"speedily," I look upon the whole affair as already settled.

ANASÚYÁ.--How so?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Did you not observe how the King betrayed his liking by the
tender manner in which he gazed upon her, and how thin he has become the
last few days, as if he had been lying awake thinking of her?

KING [_looking at himself_].--Quite true! I certainly am becoming thin
from want of sleep:--
    As night by night in anxious thought I raise
    This wasted arm to rest my sleepless head,
    My jewelled bracelet, sullied by the tears
    That trickle from my eyes in scalding streams,
    Slips towards my elbow from my shrivelled wrist.
    Oft I replace the bauble, but in vain;
    So easily it spans the fleshless limb
    That e'en the rough and corrugated skin,
    Scarred by the bow-string, will not check its fall.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_thoughtfully_].--An idea strikes me, Anasúyá. Let
Śakoontalá write a love-letter; I will conceal it in a flower, and
contrive to drop it in the King's path. He will surely mistake it for
the remains of some sacred offering, and will, in all probability, pick
it up.

ANASÚYÁ.--A very ingenious device! It has my entire approval; but what
says Śakoontalá?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--I must consider before I can consent to it.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Could you not, dear Śakoontalá, think of some pretty
composition in verse, containing a delicate declaration of your love?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Well, I will do my best; but my heart trembles when I think
of the chances of a refusal.

KING [_with rapture_].--Too timid maid, here stands the man from whom
    Thou fearest a repulse; supremely blessed
    To call thee all his own. Well might he doubt
    His title to thy love; but how couldst thou
    Believe thy beauty powerless to subdue him?

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--You undervalue your own merits, dear
Śakoontalá. What man in his senses would intercept with the skirt of his
robe the bright rays of the autumnal moon, which alone can allay the
fever of his body?

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_smiling_].--Then it seems I must do as I am bid.
          [_Sits down and appears to be thinking._]

KING.--How charming she looks! My very eyes forget to wink, jealous of
losing even for an instant a sight so enchanting.
    How beautiful the movement of her brow,
    As through her mind love's tender fancies flow!
    And, as she weighs her thoughts, how sweet to trace
    The ardent passion mantling in her face!

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Dear girls, I have thought of a verse, but I have no
writing-materials at hand.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Write the letters with your nail on this lotus leaf, which
is smooth as a parrot's breast.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_after writing the verse_].--Listen, dear friends, and tell
me whether the ideas are appropriately expressed.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--We are all attention.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_reads_].--
    I know not the secret thy bosom conceals,
      Thy form is not near me to gladden my sight;
    But sad is the tale that my fever reveals,
      Of the love that consumes me by day and by night.

KING [_advancing hastily towards her_].--
    Nay, Love does but warm thee, fair maiden--thy frame
      Only droops like the bud in the glare of the noon;
    But me he consumes with a pitiless flame,
      As the beams of the day-star destroy the pale moon.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_looking at him joyfully, and rising to salute
him_].--Welcome, the desire of our hearts, that so speedily presents

          [_Śakoontalá makes an effort to rise._]

KING.--Nay, trouble not thyself, dear maiden,
      Move not to do me homage; let thy limbs
      Still softly rest upon their flowery couch,
      And gather fragrance from the lotus stalks
      Bruised by the fevered contact of thy frame.

ANASÚYÁ.--Deign, gentle Sir, to seat yourself on the rock on which our
friend is reposing.

          [_The King sits down. Śakoontalá is confused._]

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Anyone may see at a glance that you are deeply attached to
each other. But the affection I have for my friend prompts me to say
something of which you hardly require to be informed.

KING.--Do not hesitate to speak out, my good girl. If you omit to say
what is in your mind, you may be sorry for it afterwards.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Is it not your special office as a King to remove the
suffering of your subjects who are in trouble?

KING.--Such is my duty, most assuredly.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Know, then, that our dear friend has been brought to her
present state of suffering entirely through love for you. Her life is in
your hands; take pity on her and restore her to health.

KING.--Excellent maiden, our attachment is mutual. It is I who am the
most honored by it.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_looking at Priyamvadá_].--What do you mean by detaining the
King, who must be anxious to return to his royal consorts after so long
a separation?

KING.--Sweet maiden, banish from thy mind the thought
    That I could love another. Thou dost reign
    Supreme, without a rival, in my heart,
    And I am thine alone: disown me not,
    Else must I die a second deadlier death--
    Killed by thy words, as erst by Káma's shafts.

ANASÚYÁ.--Kind Sir, we have heard it said that kings have many favorite
consorts. You must not, then, by your behavior towards our dear friend,
give her relations cause to sorrow for her.

KING.--Listen, gentle maiden, while in a few words I quiet your anxiety.
    Though many beauteous forms my palace grace,
    Henceforth two things alone will I esteem
    The glory of my royal dynasty;--
    My sea-girt realm, and this most lovely maid.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--We are satisfied by your assurances.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_glancing on one side_],--See, Anasúyá, there is our
favorite little fawn running about in great distress, and turning its
eyes in every direction as if looking for its mother; come, let us help
the little thing to find her.

          [_Both move away._]

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Dear friends, dear friends, leave me not alone and
unprotected. Why need you both go?

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Unprotected! when the Protector of the world is
at your side.          [_Exeunt._]

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--What! have they both really left me?

KING.--Distress not thyself, sweet maiden. Thy adorer is at hand to wait
upon thee.
    Oh, let me tend thee, fair one, in the place
    Of thy dear friends; and, with broad lotus fans,
    Raise cooling breezes to refresh thy frame;
    Or shall I rather, with caressing touch,
    Allay the fever of thy limbs, and soothe
    Thy aching feet, beauteous as blushing lilies?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Nay, touch me not. I will not incur the censure of those
whom I am bound to respect.
          [_Rises and attempts to go._]

KING.--Fair one, the heat of noon has not yet subsided, and thy body is
still feeble.
    How canst thou quit thy fragrant couch of flowers,
    And from thy throbbing bosom cast aside
    Its covering of lotus leaves, to brave
    With weak and fainting limbs the noon-day heat?

[_Forces her to turn back._]

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Infringe not the rules of decorum, mighty descendant of
Puru. Remember, though I love you, I have no power to dispose of myself.

KING.--Why this fear of offending your relations, timid maid? When your
venerable foster-father hears of it, he will not find fault with you. He
knows that the law permits us to be united without consulting him.
    In Indra's heaven, so at least 'tis said,
    No nuptial rites prevail,[39] nor is the bride
    Led to the altar by her future spouse;
    But all in secret does the bridegroom plight
    His troth, and each unto the other vow
    Mutual allegiance. Such espousals, too,
    Are authorized on earth, and many daughters
    Of royal saints thus wedded to their lords,
    Have still received their father's benison.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Leave me, leave me; I must take counsel with my female

KING.--I will leave thee when------


KING.--When I have gently stolen from thy lips
    Their yet untasted nectar, to allay
    The raging of my thirst, e'en as the bee
    Sips the fresh honey from the opening bud.
          [_Attempts to raise her face. Śakoontalá tries to prevent him_.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--The loving birds, doomed by fate to
nightly separation, must bid farewell to each other, for evening is at

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_in confusion_].--Great Prince, I hear the voice of the
matron Gautamí. She is coming this way, to inquire after my health.
Hasten and conceal yourself behind the branches.

KING.--I will.          [_Conceals himself_.

_Enter Gautamí with a vase in her hand, preceded by two attendants_.

ATTENDANTS.--This way, most venerable Gautamí.

GAUTAMÍ [_approaching Śakoontalá_].--My child, is the fever of thy limbs

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Venerable mother, there is certainly a change for the

GAUTAMÍ.--Let me sprinkle you with this holy water, and all your
ailments will depart. [_Sprinkling Śakoontalá on the head_.] The day is
closing, my child; come, let us go to the cottage.
          [_They all move away_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Oh my heart! thou didst fear to taste of
happiness when it was within thy reach. Now that the object of thy
desires is torn from thee, how bitter will be thy remorse, how
distracting thine anguish! [_Moving on a few steps and stopping.
Aloud_.] Farewell! bower of creepers, sweet soother of my sufferings,
farewell! may I soon again be happy under thy shade.
          [_Exit reluctantly with the others_.

KING [_returning to his former seat in the arbor. Sighing_].--Alas! how
many are the obstacles to the accomplishment of our wishes!
    Albeit she did coyly turn away
    Her glowing cheek, and with her fingers guard
    Her pouting lips, that murmured a denial
    In faltering accents, she did yield herself
    A sweet reluctant captive to my will,
    As eagerly I raised her lovely face:
    But ere with gentle force I stole the kiss,
    Too envious Fate did mar my daring purpose.
Whither now shall I betake myself? I will tarry for a brief space in
this bower of creepers, so endeared to me by the presence of my beloved
          [_Looking round_.
    Here printed on the flowery couch I see
    The fair impression of her slender limbs;
    Here is the sweet confession of her love,
    Traced with her nail upon the lotus leaf--
    And yonder are the withered lily stalks
    That graced her wrist. While all around I view
    Things that recall her image, can I quit
    This bower, e'en though its living charm be fled?

A VOICE [_in the air_].--Great King,
    Scarce is our evening sacrifice begun,
    When evil demons, lurid as the clouds
    That gather round the dying orb of day,
    Cluster in hideous troops, obscene and dread,
    About our altars, casting far and near
    Terrific shadows, while the sacred fire
    Sheds a pale lustre o'er their ghostly shapes.

KING.--I come to the rescue, I come.

[38] Káma, the Hindoo Cupid, or god of love. He has five arrows, each
tipped with the blossom of a flower, which pierce the heart through the
five senses.

[39] A marriage without the usual ceremonies is called Gándharva. It was
supposed to be the form of marriage prevalent among the nymphs of
Indra's heaven.


Scene.--The Garden of the Hermitage

_Enter Priyamvadá and Anasúyá in the act of gathering flowers_.

ANASÚYÁ.--Although, dear Priyamvadá, it rejoices my heart to think that
Śakoontalá has been happily united to a husband in every respect worthy
of her, by the form of marriage prevalent among Indra's celestial
musicians, nevertheless, I cannot help feeling somewhat uneasy in my


ANASÚYÁ.--You know that the pious King was gratefully dismissed by the
hermits on the successful termination of their sacrificial rites. He has
now returned to his capital, leaving Śakoontalá under our care; and it
may be doubted whether, in the society of his royal consorts, he will
not forget all that has taken place in this hermitage of ours.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--On that score be at ease. Persons of his noble nature are
not so destitute of all honorable feeling. I confess, however, that
there is one point about which I am rather anxious. What, think you,
will father Kanwa say when he hears what has occurred?

ANASÚYÁ.--In my opinion, he will approve the marriage.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--What makes you think so?

ANASÚYÁ.--From the first, it was always his fixed purpose to bestow the
maiden on a husband worthy of her; and since heaven has given her such a
husband, his wishes have been realized without any trouble to himself.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_looking at the flower-basket_].--We have gathered flowers
enough for the sacred offering, dear Anasúyá.

ANASÚYÁ.--Well, then, let us now gather more, that we may have wherewith
to propitiate the guardian-deity of our dear Śakoontalá.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--By all means.          [_They continue gathering_.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Ho there! See you not that I am here?

ANASÚYÁ [_listening_].--That must be the voice of a guest announcing his

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Surely, Śakoontalá is not absent from the cottage.
[_Aside_.] Her heart at least is absent, I fear.

ANASÚYÁ.--Come along, come along; we have gathered flowers enough.
          [_They move away_.

THE SAME VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Woe to thee, maiden, for daring
to slight a guest like me!
    Shall I stand here unwelcomed; even I,
    A very mine of penitential merit,
    Worthy of all respect? Shalt thou, rash maid,
    Thus set at nought the ever sacred ties
    Of hospitality? and fix thy thoughts
    Upon the cherished object of thy love,
    While I am present? Thus I curse thee, then--
    He, even he of whom thou thinkest, he
    Shall think no more of thee; nor in his heart
    Retain thine image. Vainly shalt thou strive
    To waken his remembrance of the past;
    He shall disown thee, even as the sot,
    Roused from his midnight drunkenness, denies
    The words he uttered in his revellings.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Alas! alas! I fear a terrible misfortune has occurred.
Śakoontalá, from absence of mind, must have offended some guest whom she
was bound to treat with respect. [_Looking behind the scenes_.] Ah! yes;
I see, and no less a person than the great sage Durvasas, who is known
to be most irascible. He it is that has just cursed her, and is now
retiring with hasty strides, trembling with passion, and looking as if
nothing could turn him. His wrath is like a consuming fire.

ANASÚYÁ.--Go quickly, dear Priyamvadá, throw yourself at his feet, and
persuade him to come back, while I prepare a propitiatory offering for
him, with water and refreshments.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--I will.          [_Exit._

ANASÚYÁ [_advancing hastily a few steps and stumbling_].--Alas! alas!
this comes of being in a hurry. My foot has slipped and my basket of
flowers has fallen from my hand.
          [_Stays to gather them up_.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_reëntering_].--Well, dear Anasúyá, I have done my best; but
what living being could succeed in pacifying such a cross-grained,
ill-tempered old fellow? However, I managed to mollify him a little.

ANASÚYÁ [_smiling_].--Even a little was much for him. Say on.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--When he refused to turn back, I implored his forgiveness in
these words: "Most venerable sage, pardon, I beseech you, this first
offence of a young and inexperienced girl, who was ignorant of the
respect due to your saintly character and exalted rank."

ANASÚYÁ.--And what did he reply?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--"My word must not be falsified; but at the sight of the
ring of recognition the spell shall cease." So saying, he disappeared.

ANASÚYÁ.--Oh! then we may breathe again; for now I think of it, the King
himself, at his departure, fastened on Śakoontalá's finger, as a token
of remembrance, a ring on which his own name was engraved. She has,
therefore, a remedy for her misfortune at her own command.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Come, dear Anasúyá, let us proceed with our religious
duties.          [_They walk away_.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_looking off the stage_].--See, Anasúyá, there sits our dear
friend, motionless as a statue, resting her face on her left hand, her
whole mind absorbed in thinking of her absent husband. She can pay no
attention to herself, much less to a stranger.

ANASÚYÁ.--Priyamvadá, let this affair never pass our lips. We must spare
our dear friend's feelings. Her constitution is too delicate to bear
much emotion.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--I agree with you. Who would think of watering a tender
jasmine with hot water?


Scene.--The Neighborhood of the Hermitage

_Enter one of Kanwa's pupils, just arisen from his couch at the dawn of

PUPIL.--My master, the venerable Kanwa, who is but lately returned from
his pilgrimage, has ordered me to ascertain how the time goes. I have
therefore come into the open air to see if it be still dark. [_Walking
and looking about_.] Oh! the dawn has already broken.
    Lo! in one quarter of the sky, the Moon,
    Lord of the herbs and night-expanding flowers,
    Sinks towards his bed behind the western hills;
    While in the east, preceded by the Dawn,
    His blushing charioteer, the glorious Sun
    Begins his course, and far into the gloom
    Casts the first radiance of his orient beams,
    Hail! co-eternal orbs, that rise to set,
    And set to rise again; symbols divine
    Of man's reverses, life's vicissitudes.
And now,
    While the round Moon withdraws his looming disc
    Beneath the western sky, the full-blown flower
    Of the night-loving lotus sheds her leaves
    In sorrow for his loss, bequeathing nought
    But the sweet memory of her loveliness
    To my bereavèd sight: e'en as the bride
    Disconsolately mourns her absent lord,
    And yields her heart a prey to anxious grief.

ANASÚYÁ [_entering abruptly_].--Little as I know of the ways of the
world, I cannot help thinking that King Dushyanta is treating Śakoontalá
very improperly.

PUPIL.--Well, I must let my revered preceptor know that it is time to
offer the burnt oblation.          [_Exit._

ANASÚYÁ.--I am broad awake, but what shall I do? I have no energy to go
about my usual occupations. My hands and feet seem to have lost their
power. Well, Love has gained his object; and Love only is to blame for
having induced our dear friend, in the innocence of her heart, to
confide in such a perfidious man. Possibly, however, the imprecation of
Durvasas may be already taking effect. Indeed, I cannot otherwise
account for the King's strange conduct, in allowing so long a time to
elapse without even a letter; and that, too, after so many promises and
protestations. I cannot think what to do, unless we send him the ring
which was to be the token of recognition. But which of these austere
hermits could we ask to be the bearer of it? Then, again, Father Kanwa
has just returned from his pilgrimage: and how am I to inform him of
Śakoontalá's marriage to King Dushyanta, and her expectation of being
soon a mother? I never could bring myself to tell him, even if I felt
that Śakoontalá had been in fault, which she certainly has not. What is
to be done?

PRIYAMVADÁ [_entering; joyfully_].--Quick! quick! Anasúyá! come and
assist in the joyful preparations for Śakoontalá's departure to her
husband's palace.

ANASÚYÁ.--My dear girl, what can you mean?

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Listen, now, and I will tell you all about it. I went just
now to Śakoontalá, to inquire whether she had slept comfortably--

ANASÚYÁ.--Well, well; go on.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--She was sitting with her face bowed down to the very ground
with shame, when Father Kanwa entered and, embracing her, of his own
accord offered her his congratulations. "I give thee joy, my child," he
said, "we have had an auspicious omen. The priest who offered the
oblation dropped it into the very centre of the sacred fire, though
thick smoke obstructed his vision. Henceforth thou wilt cease to be an
object of compassion. This very day I purpose sending thee, under the
charge of certain trusty hermits, to the King's palace; and shall
deliver thee into the hands of thy husband, as I would commit knowledge
to the keeping of a wise and faithful student."

ANASÚYÁ.--Who, then, informed the holy Father of what passed in his

PRIYAMVADÁ.--As he was entering the sanctuary of the consecrated fire,
an invisible being chanted a verse in celestial strains.

ANASÚYÁ [_with astonishment_].--Indeed! pray repeat it.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_repeats the verse_].--
    Glows in thy daughter King Dushyanta's glory,
      As in the sacred tree the mystic fire.
    Let worlds rejoice to hear the welcome story;
      And may the son immortalize the sire.

ANASÚYÁ [_embracing Priyamvadá_].--Oh, my dear Priyamvadá, what
delightful news! I am pleased beyond measure; yet when I think that we
are to lose our dear Śakoontalá this very day, a feeling of melancholy
mingles with my joy.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--We shall find means of consoling ourselves after her
departure. Let the dear creature only be made happy, at any cost.

ANASÚYÁ.--Yes, yes, Priyamvadá, it shall be so; and now to prepare our
bridal array. I have always looked forward to this occasion, and some
time since, I deposited a beautiful garland of Keśara flowers in a
cocoa-nut box, and suspended it on a bough of yonder mango-tree. Be good
enough to stretch out your hand and take it down, while I compound
unguents and perfumes with this consecrated paste and these blades of
sacred grass.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Very well.

          [_Exit Anasúyá. Priyamvadá takes down the flowers._

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Gautamí, bid Śárngarava and the others
hold themselves in readiness to escort Śakoontalá.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_listening_].--Quick, quick, Anasúyá! They are calling the
hermits who are to go with Śakoontalá to Hastinápur.

ANASÚYÁ [_reëntering, with the perfumed unguents in her hand_].--Come
along then, Priyamvadá; I am ready to go with you. [_They walk away_.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_looking_].--See! there sits Śakoontalá, her locks arranged
even at this early hour of the morning. The holy women of the hermitage
are congratulating her, and invoking blessings on her head, while they
present her with wedding-gifts and offerings of consecrated wild-rice.
Let us join them.          [_They approach_.

_Śakoontalá is seen seated, with women surrounding her, occupied in the
manner described_.

FIRST WOMAN [_to Śakoontalá_].--My child, may'st thou receive the title
of "Chief-queen," and may thy husband delight to honor thee above all

SECOND WOMAN.--My child, may'st thou be the mother of a hero!

THIRD WOMAN.--My child, may'st thou be highly honored by thy lord!

[_Exeunt all the women, excepting Gautamí, after blessing Śakoontalá._

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_approaching_].--Dear Śakoontalá, we are come to
assist you at your toilet, and may a blessing attend it!

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Welcome, dear friends, welcome. Sit down here.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_taking the baskets containing the bridal
decorations, and sitting down_].--Now, then, dearest, prepare to let us
dress you. We must first rub your limbs with these perfumed unguents.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--I ought indeed to be grateful for your kind offices, now
that I am so soon to be deprived of them. Dear, dear friends, perhaps I
shall never be dressed by you again.          [_Bursts into tears_.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Weep not, dearest, tears are out of season on
such a happy occasion.

          [_They wipe away her tears and begin to dress her_.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--Alas! these simple flowers and rude ornaments which our
hermitage offers in abundance, do not set off your beauty as it

          _Enter two young Hermits, bearing costly presents_.

BOTH HERMITS.--Here are ornaments suitable for a queen.

          [_The women look at them in astonishment_.

GAUTAMÍ.--Why, Nárada, my son, whence came these?

FIRST HERMIT.--You owe them to the devotion of Father Kanwa.

GAUTAMÍ.--Did he create them by the power of his own mind?

SECOND HERMIT.--Certainly not; but you shall hear. The venerable sage
ordered us to collect flowers for Śakoontalá from the forest-trees; and
we went to the wood for that purpose, when
    Straightway depending from a neighboring tree
    Appeared a robe of linen tissue, pure
    And spotless as a moon-beam--mystic pledge
    Of bridal happiness; another tree
    Distilled a roseate dye wherewith to stain
    The lady's feet; and other branches near
    Glistened with rare and costly ornaments.
    While, 'midst the leaves, the hands of forest-nymphs,
    Vying in beauty with the opening buds,
    Presented us with sylvan offerings.

PRIYAMVADÁ [_looking at Śakoontalá_].--The wood-nymphs have done you
honor, indeed. This favor doubtless signifies that you are soon to be
received as a happy wife into your husband's house, and are from this
forward to become the partner of his royal fortunes.
          [_Śakoontalá appears confused_.

FIRST HERMIT.--Come, Gautama; Father Kanwa has finished his ablutions.
Let us go and inform him of the favor we have received from the deities
who preside over our trees.

SECOND HERMIT.--By all means.          [_Exeunt._

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Alas! what are we to do? We are unused to such
splendid decorations, and are at a loss how to arrange them. Our
knowledge of painting must be our guide. We will dispose the ornaments
as we have seen them in pictures.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Whatever pleases you, dear girls, will please me. I have
perfect confidence in your taste. [_They commence dressing her_.

          _Enter Kanwa, having just finished his ablutions_.

KANWA.--This day my loved one leaves me, and my heart
    Is heavy with its grief: the streams of sorrow
    Choked at the source, repress my faltering voice.
    I have no words to speak; mine eyes are dimmed
    By the dark shadows of the thoughts that rise
    Within my soul. If such the force of grief
    In an old hermit parted from his nursling,
    What anguish must the stricken parent feel--
    Bereft forever of an only daughter?
          [_Advances towards Śakoontalá_

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Now, dearest Śakoontalá, we have finished
decorating you. You have only to put on the two linen mantles.
           [_Śakoontalá rises and puts them on_.

GAUTAMÍ.--Daughter, see, here comes thy foster-father; he is eager to
fold thee in his arms; his eyes swim with tears of joy. Hasten to do him

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_reverently_].--My father, I salute you.

KANWA.--My daughter,
    May'st thou be highly honored by thy lord,
    E'en as Yayáti Śarmishthá adored!
    And, as she bore him Puru; so may'st thou
    Bring forth a son to whom the world shall bow!

GAUTAMÍ.--Most venerable father, she accepts your benediction as if she
already possessed the boon it confers.

KANWA.--Now come this way, my child, and walk reverently round these
sacrificial fires.          [_They all walk round_.

KANWA [_repeats a prayer in the metre of the Rig-veda_].--
    Holy flames, that gleam around
    Every altar's hallowed ground;
    Holy flames, whose frequent food
    Is the consecrated wood,
    And for whose encircling bed,
    Sacred Kuśa-grass is spread;
    Holy flames, that waft to heaven
    Sweet oblations daily given,
    Mortal guilt to purge away;--
    Hear, oh hear me, when I pray--
    Purify my child this day!
Now then, my daughter, set out on thy journey. [_Looking on one side_.]
Where are thy attendants, Śárngarava and the others?

YOUNG HERMIT [_entering_].--Here we are, most venerable father.

KANWA.--Lead the way for thy sister.

SÁRNGARAVA.--Come, Śakoontalá, let us proceed.
          [_All move away_.

KANWA.--Hear me, ye trees that surround our hermitage!
    Śakoontalá ne'er moistened in the stream
    Her own parched lips, till she had fondly poured
    Its purest water on your thirsty roots;
    And oft, when she would fain have decked her hair
    With your thick-clustering blossoms, in her love
    She robbed you not e'en of a single flower.
    Her highest joy was ever to behold
    The early glory of your opening buds:
    Oh, then, dismiss her with a kind farewell!
    This very day she quits her father's home,
    To seek the palace of her wedded lord.
          [_The note of a Köil is heard_.
    Hark! heard'st thou not the answer of the trees,
    Our sylvan sisters, warbled in the note
    Of the melodious Köil? they dismiss
    Their dear Śakoontalá with loving wishes.

VOICES [_in the air_].--
    Fare thee well, journey pleasantly on amid streams
    Where the lotuses bloom, and the sun's glowing beams
    Never pierce the deep shade of the wide-spreading trees,
    While gently around thee shall sport the cool breeze;
    Then light be thy footsteps and easy thy tread,
    Beneath thee shall carpets of lilies be spread.
    Journey on to thy lord, let thy spirit be gay,
    For the smiles of all Nature shall gladden thy way.
          [_All listen with astonishment_.

GAUTAMÍ.--Daughter! the nymphs of the wood, who love thee with the
affection of a sister, dismiss thee with kind wishes for thy happiness.
Take thou leave of them reverentially.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_bowing respectfully and walking on. Aside to her
friend_].--Eager as I am, dear Priyamvadá, to see my husband once more,
yet my feet refuse to move, now that I am quitting forever the home of
my girlhood.

PRIYAMVADÁ.--You are not the only one, dearest, to feel the bitterness
of parting. As the time of separation approaches, the whole grove seems
to share your anguish.
    In sorrow for thy loss, the herd of deer
    Forget to browse; the peacock on the lawn
    Ceases its dance; the very trees around us
    Shed their pale leaves, like tears, upon the ground.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_recollecting herself_].--My father, let me, before I go,
bid adieu to my pet jasmine, the Moonlight of the Grove. I love the
plant almost as a sister.

KANWA.--Yes, yes, my child, I remember thy sisterly affection for the
creeper. Here it is on the right.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_approaching the jasmine_],--My beloved jasmine, most
brilliant of climbing plants, how sweet it is to see thee cling thus
fondly to thy husband, the mango-tree; yet, prithee, turn thy twining
arms for a moment in this direction to embrace thy sister; she is going
far away, and may never see thee again.

KANWA.--Daughter, the cherished purpose of my heart
    Has ever been to wed thee to a spouse
    That should be worthy of thee; such a spouse
    Hast thou thyself, by thine own merits, won.
    To him thou goest, and about his neck
    Soon shalt thou cling confidingly, as now
    Thy favorite jasmine twines its loving arms
    Around the sturdy mango. Leave thou it
    To its protector--e'en as I consign
    Thee to thy lord, and henceforth from my mind
    Banish all anxious thought on thy behalf.
Proceed on thy journey, my child.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_to Priyamvadá and Anasúyá_].--To you, my sweet companions,
I leave it as a keepsake. Take charge of it when I am gone.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_bursting into tears_].--And to whose charge do
you leave us, dearest? Who will care for us when you are gone?

KANWA.--For shame, Anasúyá! dry your tears. Is this the way to cheer
your friend at a time when she needs your support and consolation?
          [_All move on_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--My father, see you there my pet deer, grazing close to the
hermitage? She expects soon to fawn, and even now the weight of the
little one she carries hinders her movements. Do not forget to send me
word when she becomes a mother.

KANWA.--I will not forget it.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_feeling herself drawn back_].--What can this be, fastened
to my dress?          [_Turns round_.

KANWA.--My daughter,
    It is the little fawn, thy foster-child.
    Poor helpless orphan! it remembers well
    How with a mother's tenderness and love
    Thou didst protect it, and with grains of rice
    From thine own hand didst daily nourish it;
    And, ever and anon, when some sharp thorn
    Had pierced its mouth, how gently thou didst tend
    The bleeding wound, and pour in healing balm.
    The grateful nursling clings to its protectress,
    Mutely imploring leave to follow her.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--My poor little fawn, dost thou ask to follow an unhappy
woman who hesitates not to desert her companions? When thy mother died,
soon after thy birth, I supplied her place, and reared thee with my own
hand; and now that thy second mother is about to leave thee, who will
care for thee? My father, be thou a mother to her. My child, go back,
and be a daughter to my father.          [_Moves on, weeping_.

KANWA.--Weep not, my daughter, check the gathering tear
    That lurks beneath thine eyelid, ere it flow
    And weaken thy resolve; be firm and true--
    True to thyself and me; the path of life
    Will lead o'er hill and plain, o'er rough and smooth,
    And all must feel the steepness of the way;
    Though rugged be thy course, press boldly on.

SÁRNGARAVA.--Venerable sire! the sacred precept is--"Accompany thy
friend as far as the margin of the first stream." Here then, we are
arrived at the border of a lake. It is time for you to give us your
final instructions and return.

KANWA.--Be it so; let us tarry for a moment under the shade of this
fig-tree.          [_They do so_.

KANWA [_aside_].--I must think of some appropriate message to send to
his majesty King Dushyanta.          [_Reflects._

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside to Anasúyá_].--See, see, dear Anasúyá, the poor
female Chakraváka-bird, whom cruel fate dooms to nightly separation
from her mate, calls to him in mournful notes from the other side of the
stream, though he is only hidden from her view by the spreading leaves
of the water-lily. Her cry is so piteous that I could almost fancy she
was lamenting her hard lot in intelligible words.

ANASÚYÁ.--Say not so, dearest.
    Fond bird! though sorrow lengthen out her night
    Of widowhood, yet with a cry of joy
    She hails the morning light that brings her mate
    Back to her side. The agony of parting
    Would wound us like a sword, but that its edge
    Is blunted by the hope of future meeting.

KANWA.--Śárngarava, when you have introduced Śakoontalá into the
presence of the King, you must give him this message from me.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Let me hear it, venerable father.

KANWA.--This is it--
    Most puissant prince! we here present before thee
    One thou art bound to cherish and receive
    As thine own wife; yea, even to enthrone
    As thine own queen--worthy of equal love
    With thine imperial consorts. So much, Sire,
    We claim of thee as justice due to us,
    In virtue of our holy character--
    In virtue of thine honorable rank--
    In virtue of the pure spontaneous love
    That secretly grew up 'twixt thee and her,
    Without consent or privity of us.
    We ask no more--the rest we freely leave
    To thy just feeling and to destiny.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--A most suitable message. I will take care to deliver it

KANWA.--And now, my child, a few words of advice for thee. We hermits,
though we live secluded from the world, are not ignorant of worldly

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--No, indeed. Wise men are conversant with all subjects.

KANWA.--Listen, then, my daughter. When thou reachest thy husband's
palace, and art admitted into his family,
    Honor thy betters; ever be respectful
    To those above thee; and, should others share
    Thy husband's love, ne'er yield thyself a prey
    To jealousy; but ever be a friend,
    A loving friend, to those who rival thee
    In his affections. Should thy wedded lord
    Treat thee with harshness, thou must never be
    Harsh in return, but patient and submissive.
    Be to thy menials courteous, and to all
    Placed under thee, considerate and kind:
    Be never self-indulgent, but avoid
    Excess in pleasure; and, when fortune smiles,
    Be not puffed up. Thus to thy husband's house
    Wilt thou a blessing prove, and not a curse.
What thinks Gautamí of this advice?

GAUTAMÍ.--An excellent compendium, truly, of every wife's duties! Lay it
well to heart, my daughter.

KANWA.--Come, my beloved child, one parting embrace for me and for thy
companions, and then we leave thee.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--My father, must Priyamvadá and Anasúyá really return with
you? They are very dear to me.

KANWA.--Yes, my child; they, too, in good time, will be given in
marriage to suitable husbands. It would not be proper for them to
accompany thee to such a public place. But Gautamí shall be thy

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_embracing him_].--Removed from thy bosom, my beloved
father, like a young tendril of the sandal-tree torn from its home in
the western mountains,[40] how shall I be able to support life in a
foreign soil?

KANWA.--Daughter, thy fears are groundless:--
    Soon shall thy lord prefer thee to the rank
    Of his own consort; and unnumbered cares
    Befitting his imperial dignity
    Shall constantly engross thee. Then the bliss
    Of bearing him a son--a noble boy,
    Bright as the day-star--shall transport thy soul
    With new delights, and little shalt thou reck
    Of the light sorrow that afflicts thee now
    At parting from thy father and thy friends.

          [_Śakoontalá throws herself at her foster-father's feet_.

KANWA.--Blessings on thee, my child! May all my hopes of thee be

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_approaching her friends_].--Come, my two loved companions,
embrace me--both of you together.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_embracing her_].--Dear Śakoontalá, remember, if
the King should by any chance be slow in recognizing you, you have only
to show him this ring, on which his own name is engraved.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--The bare thought of it puts me in a tremor.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--There is no real cause for fear, dearest.
Excessive affection is too apt to suspect evil where none exists.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Come, lady, we must hasten on. The sun is rising in the

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_looking towards the hermitage_].--Dear father, when shall I
ever see this hallowed grove again?

KANWA.--I will tell thee; listen--
    When thou hast passed a long and blissful life
    As King Dushyanta's queen, and jointly shared
    With all the earth his ever-watchful care;
    And hast beheld thine own heroic son,
    Matchless in arms, united to a spouse
    In happy wedlock; when his aged sire,
    Thy faithful husband, hath to him resigned
    The helm of state; then, weary of the world,
    Together with Dushyanta thou shalt seek
    The calm seclusion of thy former home:--
    There amid holy scenes to be at peace,
    Till thy pure spirit gain its last release.

GAUTAMÍ.--Come, my child, the favorable time for our journey is fast
passing. Let thy father return. Venerable Sire, be thou the first to
move homewards, or these last words will never end.

KANWA.--Daughter, detain me no longer. My religious duties must not be

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_again embracing her foster-father_].--Beloved father, thy
frame is much enfeebled by penitential exercises. Do not, oh! do not,
allow thyself to sorrow too much on my account.

KANWA [_sighing_].--How, O my child, shall my bereavèd heart
    Forget its bitterness, when, day by day,
    Full in my sight shall grow the tender plants
    Reared by thy care, or sprung from hallowed grain
    Which thy loved hands have strewn around the door--
    A frequent offering to our household gods?
Go, my daughter, and may thy journey be prosperous.

          [_Exit Śakoontalá with her escort_.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ [_gazing after Śakoontalá_].--Alas! alas! she is
gone, and now the trees hide our darling from our view.

KANWA [_sighing_].--Well, Anasúyá, your sister has departed. Moderate
your grief, both of you, and follow me. I go back to the hermitage.

PRIYAMVADÁ AND ANASÚYÁ.--Holy father, the sacred grove will be a desert
without Śakoontalá. How can we ever return to it?

KANWA.--It is natural enough that your affection should make you view it
in this light. [_Walking pensively on_.] As for me, I am quite surprised
at myself. Now that I have fairly dismissed her to her husband's house,
my mind is easy: for indeed,
    A daughter is a loan--a precious jewel
    Lent to a parent till her husband claim her.
    And now that to her rightful lord and master
    I have delivered her, my burdened soul
    Is lightened, and I seem to breathe more freely.


[40] The sandal-tree is a large kind of myrtle, with pointed leaves. The
wood affords many highly esteemed perfumes and is celebrated for its
delicious scent. It is chiefly found on the slopes of the Malay
mountains or Western Ghants, on the Malabar coast.


Scene.--A Room in the Palace

_The King Dushyanta and the Jester Máthavya are discovered seated_.

MÁTHAVYA [_listening_].--Hark! my dear friend, listen a minute, and you
will hear sweet sounds proceeding from the music-room. Someone is
singing a charming air. Who can it be? Oh! I know. The queen Hansapadiká
is practising her notes, that she may greet you with a new song.

KING.--Hush! Let me listen.

A VOICE [_sings behind the scenes_].--
    How often hither didst thou rove,
    Sweet bee, to kiss the mango's cheek;
    Oh! leave not, then, thy early love,
    The lily's honeyed lip to seek.

KING.--A most impassioned strain, truly!

MÁTHAVYA.--Do you understand the meaning of the words?

KING [_smiling_].--She means to reprove me, because I once paid her
great attention, and have lately deserted her for the queen Vasumatí.
Go, my dear fellow, and tell Hansapadiká from me that I take her
delicate reproof as it is intended.

MÁTHAVYA.--Very well. [_Rising from his seat_.] But stay--I don't much
relish being sent to bear the brunt of her jealousy. The chances are
that she will have me seized by the hair of the head and beaten to a
jelly. I would as soon expose myself, after a vow of celibacy, to the
seductions of a lovely nymph, as encounter the fury of a jealous woman.

KING.--Go, go; you can disarm her wrath by a civil speech; but give her
my message.

MÁTHAVYA.--What must be must be, I suppose.          [_Exit._

KING [_aside_].--Strange! that song has filled me with a most peculiar
sensation. A melancholy feeling has come over me, and I seem to yearn
after some long-forgotten object of affection. Singular, indeed! but,
    Not seldom in our happy hours of ease,
    When thought is still, the sight of some fair form,
    Or mournful fall of music breathing low,
    Will stir strange fancies, thrilling all the soul
    With a mysterious sadness, and a sense
    Of vague yet earnest longing. Can it be
    That the dim memory of events long past,
    Or friendships formed in other states of being,
    Flits like a passing shadow o'er the spirit?
          [_Remains pensive and sad_.

          _Enter the Chamberlain_.

CHAMBERLAIN.--Alas! to what an advanced period of life have I attained!
    Even this wand betrays the lapse of years;
    In youthful days 'twas but a useless badge
    And symbol of my office; now it serves
    As a support to prop my tottering steps.

Ah me! I feel very unwilling to announce to the King that a deputation
of young hermits from the sage Kanwa has arrived, and craves an
immediate audience. Certainly, his majesty ought not to neglect a matter
of sacred duty, yet I hardly like to trouble him when he has just risen
from the judgment-seat. Well, well; a monarch's business is to sustain
the world, and he must not expect much repose; because--

    Onward, forever onward, in his car
    The unwearied Sun pursues his daily course,
    Nor tarries to unyoke his glittering steeds.
    And ever moving speeds the rushing Wind
    Through boundless space, filling the universe
    With his life-giving breezes. Day and night,
    The King of Serpents on his thousand heads
    Upholds the incumbent earth; and even so,
    Unceasing toil is aye the lot of kings,
    Who, in return, draw nurture from their subjects.

I will therefore deliver my message. [_Walking on and looking about_.]
Ah! here comes the King:--

    His subjects are his children; through the day,
    Like a fond father, to supply their wants,
    Incessantly he labors; wearied now,
    The monarch seeks seclusion and repose--
    E'en as the prince of elephants defies
    The sun's fierce heat, and leads the fainting herd
    To verdant pastures, ere his wayworn limbs
    He yields to rest beneath the cooling shade.

[_Approaching_.] Victory to the King! So please your majesty, some
hermits who live in a forest near the Snowy Mountains have arrived here,
bringing certain women with them. They have a message to deliver from
the sage Kanwa, and desire an audience. I await your Majesty's commands.

KING [_respectfully_].--A message from the sage Kanwa, did you say?

CHAMBERLAIN.--Even so, my liege.

KING.--Tell my domestic priest, Somaráta, to receive the hermits with
due honor, according to the prescribed form. He may then himself
introduce them into my presence. I will await them in a place suitable
for the reception of such holy guests.

CHAMBERLAIN.--Your Majesty's commands shall be obeyed. [_Exit._

KING [_rising and addressing the Warder_].--Vetravatí, lead the way to
the chamber of the consecrated fire.

WARDER.--This way, Sire.

KING [_walking on, with the air of one oppressed by the cares of
government_].--People are generally contented and happy when they have
gained their desires; but kings have no sooner attained the object of
their aspirations than all their troubles begin.
    'Tis a fond thought that to attain the end
    And object of ambition is to rest;
    Success doth only mitigate the fever
    Of anxious expectation; soon the fear
    Of losing what we have, the constant care
    Of guarding it doth weary. Ceaseless toil
    Must be the lot of him who with his hands
    Supports the canopy that shields his subjects.

Two HERALDS [_behind the scenes_].--May the King be victorious!

FIRST HERALD.--Honor to him who labors day by day
    For the world's weal, forgetful of his own.
    Like some tall tree that with its stately head
    Endures the solar beam, while underneath
    It yields refreshing shelter to the weary.

SECOND HERALD.--Let but the monarch wield his threatening rod
    And e'en the guilty tremble; at his voice
    The rebel spirit cowers; his grateful subjects
    Acknowledge him their guardian; rich and poor
    Hail him a faithful friend, a loving kinsman.

KING.--Weary as I was before, this complimentary address has refreshed
me.          [_Walks on_.

WARDER.--Here is the terrace of the hallowed fire-chamber, and yonder
stands the cow that yields the milk for the oblations. The sacred
enclosure has been recently purified, and looks clean and beautiful.
Ascend, Sire.

KING [_leans on the shoulders of his attendants, and ascends_].
Vetravatí, what can possibly be the message that the venerable Kanwa has
sent me by these hermits?--
    Perchance their sacred rites have been disturbed
    By demons, or some evil has befallen
    The innocent herds, their favorites, that graze
    Within the precincts of the hermitage;
    Or haply, through my sins, some withering blight
    Has nipped the creeping plants that spread their arms
    Around the hallowed grove. Such troubled thoughts
    Crowd through my mind, and fill me with misgiving.

WARDER.--If you ask my opinion, Sire, I think the hermits merely wish to
take an opportunity of testifying their loyalty, and are therefore come
to offer homage to your Majesty.

_Enter the Hermits, leading Śakoontalá, attended by Gautamí; and, in
advance of them, the Chamberlain and the domestic Priest._

CHAMBERLAIN.--This way, reverend sirs, this way.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--O Śáradwata,
    'Tis true the monarch lacks no royal grace,
    Nor ever swerves from justice; true, his people,
    Yea such as in life's humblest walks are found,
    Refrain from evil courses; still to me,
    A lonely hermit reared in solitude,
    This throng appears bewildering, and methinks
    I look upon a burning house, whose inmates
    Are running to and fro in wild dismay.

SÁRADWATA.--It is natural that the first sight of the King's capital
should affect you in this manner; my own sensations are very similar.
    As one just bathed beholds the man polluted;
    As one late purified, the yet impure:--
    As one awake looks on the yet unwakened;
    Or as the freeman gazes on the thrall,
    So I regard this crowd of pleasure-seekers.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_feeling a quivering sensation in her right eyelid, and
suspecting a bad omen_],--Alas! what means this throbbing of my right

GAUTAMÍ.--Heaven avert the evil omen, my child! May the guardian deities
of thy husband's family convert it into a sign of good fortune! [_Walks

PRIEST [_pointing to the King_].--Most reverend sirs, there stands the
protector of the four classes of the people; the guardian of the four
orders of the priesthood. He has just left the judgment-seat, and is
waiting for you. Behold him!

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Great Bráhman, we are happy in thinking that the King's
power is exerted for the protection of all classes of his subjects. We
have not come as petitioners--we have the fullest confidence in the
generosity of his nature.
    The loftiest trees bend humbly to the ground
    Beneath the teeming burden of their fruit;
    High in the vernal sky the pregnant clouds
    Suspend their stately course, and hanging low,
    Scatter their sparkling treasures o'er the earth:--
    And such is true benevolence; the good
    Are never rendered arrogant by riches.

WARDER.--So please your Majesty, I judge from the placid countenance of
the hermits that they have no alarming message to deliver.

KING [_looking at Śakoontalá_].--But the lady there--
    Who can she be, whose form of matchless grace
    Is half concealed beneath her flowing veil?
    Among the sombre hermits she appears
    Like a fresh bud 'mid sear and yellow leaves.

WARDER.--So please your Majesty, my curiosity is also roused, but no
conjecture occurs to my mind. This at least is certain, that she
deserves to be looked at more closely.

KING.--True; but it is not right to gaze at another man's wife.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_placing her hand on her bosom. Aside_].--O my heart, why
this throbbing? Remember thy lord's affection, and take courage.

PRIEST [_advancing_].--These holy men have been received with all due
honor. One of them has now a message to deliver from his spiritual
superior. Will your Majesty deign to hear it?

KING.--I am all attention.

HERMITS [_extending their hands_].--Victory to the King!

KING.--Accept my respectful greeting.

HERMITS.--May the desires of your soul be accomplished!

KING.--I trust no one is molesting you in the prosecution of your
religious rites.

HERMITS.--Who dares disturb our penitential rites
    When thou art our protector? Can the night
    Prevail to cast her shadows o'er the earth
    While the sun's beams irradiate the sky?

KING.--Such, indeed, is the very meaning of my title--"Defender of the
Just." I trust the venerable Kanwa is in good health. The world is
interested in his well-being.

HERMITS.--Holy men have health and prosperity in their own power. He
bade us greet your Majesty, and, after kind inquiries, deliver this

KING.--Let me hear his commands.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--He bade us say that he feels happy in giving his sanction
to the marriage which your Majesty contracted with this lady, his
daughter, privately and by mutual agreement. Because
    By us thou art esteemed the most illustrious
    Of noble husbands; and Śakoontalá
    Virtue herself in human form revealed.
    Great Brahmá hath in equal yoke united
    A bride unto a husband worthy of her:--
    Henceforth let none make blasphemous complaint
    That he is pleased with ill-assorted unions.

Since, therefore, she expects soon to be the mother of thy child,
receive her into thy palace, that she may perform, in conjunction with
thee, the ceremonies prescribed by religion on such an occasion.

GAUTAMÍ.--So please your Majesty, I would add a few words: but why
should I intrude my sentiments when an opportunity of speaking my mind
has never been allowed me?
    She took no counsel with her kindred; thou
    Didst not confer with thine, but all alone
    Didst solemnize thy nuptials with thy wife.
    Together, then, hold converse; let us leave you.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Ah! how I tremble for my lord's reply.

KING.--What strange proposal is this?

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--His words are fire to me.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--What do I hear? Dost thou, then, hesitate? Monarch, thou
art well acquainted with the ways of the world, and knowest that
    A wife, however virtuous and discreet,
    If she live separate from her wedded lord,
    Though under shelter of her parent's roof,
    Is mark for vile suspicion. Let her dwell
    Beside her husband, though he hold her not
    In his affection. So her kinsmen will it.

KING.--Do you really mean to assert that I ever married this lady?

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_despondingly. Aside_].--O my heart, thy worst misgivings
are confirmed.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Is it becoming in a monarch to depart from the rules of
justice, because he repents of his engagements?

KING.--I cannot answer a question which is based on a mere fabrication.

SÁRNGARAVA.--Such inconstancy is fortunately not common, excepting in
men intoxicated by power.

KING.--Is that remark aimed at me?

GAUTAMÍ.--Be not ashamed, my daughter. Let me remove thy veil for a
little space. Thy husband will then recognize thee. [_Removes her veil_.

KING [_gazing at Śakoontalá. Aside_].--What charms are here revealed
before mine eyes!
    Truly no blemish mars the symmetry
    Of that fair form; yet can I ne'er believe
    She is my wedded wife; and like a bee
    That circles round the flower whose nectared cup
    Teems with the dew of morning, I must pause
    Ere eagerly I taste the proffered sweetness.
          [_Remains wrapped in-thought._

WARDER.--How admirably does our royal master's behavior prove his regard
for justice! Who else would hesitate for a moment when good fortune
offered for his acceptance a form of such rare beauty?

SÁRNGARAVA.--Great King, why art thou silent?

KING.--Holy men, I have revolved the matter in my mind; but the more I
think of it, the less able am I to recollect that I ever contracted an
alliance with this lady. What answer, then, can I possibly give you when
I do not believe myself to be her husband, and I plainly see that she is
soon to become a mother?

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Woe! woe! Is our very marriage to be called in
question by my own husband? Ah me! is this to be the end of all my
bright visions of wedded happiness?

    Beware how thou insult the holy Sage!
    Remember how he generously allowed
    Thy secret union with his foster-child;
    And how, when thou didst rob him of his treasure,
    He sought to furnish thee excuse, when rather
    He should have cursed thee for a ravisher.

ŚÁRADWATA.--Śárngarava, speak to him no more. Śakoontalá, our part is
performed; we have said all we had to say, and the King has replied in
the manner thou hast heard. It is now thy turn to give him convincing
evidence of thy marriage.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Since his feeling towards me has undergone a
complete revolution, what will it avail to revive old recollections? One
thing is clear--I shall soon have to mourn my own widowhood. [_Aloud_.]
My revered husband--[_Stops short_.] But no--I dare not address thee by
this title, since thou hast refused to acknowledge our union. Noble
descendant of Puru! It is not worthy of thee to betray an
innocent-minded girl, and disown her in such terms, after having so
lately and so solemnly plighted thy vows to her in the hermitage.

KING [_stopping his ears_].--I will hear no more. Be such a crime far
from my thoughts!
    What evil spirit can possess thee, lady,
    That thou dost seek to sully my good name
    By base aspersions? like a swollen torrent,
    That, leaping from its narrow bed, overthrows
    The tree upon its bank, and strives to blend
    Its turbid waters with the crystal stream?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--If, then, thou really believest me to be the wife of
another, and thy present conduct proceeds from some cloud that obscures
thy recollection, I will easily convince thee by this token.

KING.--An excellent idea!

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_feeling for the ring_].--Alas! alas! woe is me! There is no
ring on my finger!
          [_Looks with anguish at Gautamí_.

GAUTAMÍ.--The ring must have slipped off when thou wast in the act of
offering homage to the holy water of Śachí's sacred pool, near

KING [_smiling_].--People may well talk of the readiness of woman's
invention! Here is an instance of it.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Say, rather, of the omnipotence of fate. I will mention
another circumstance, which may yet convince thee.

KING.--By all means let me hear it at once.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--One day, while we were seated in a jasmine bower, thou
didst pour into the hollow of thine hand some water, sprinkled by a
recent shower in the cup of a lotus blossom--

KING.--I am listening; proceed.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--At that instant, my adopted child, the little fawn, with
soft, long eyes, came running towards us. Upon which, before tasting the
water thyself, thou didst kindly offer some to the little creature,
saying fondly--"Drink first, gentle fawn." But she could not be induced
to drink from the hand of a stranger; though immediately afterwards,
when I took the water in my own hand, she drank with perfect confidence.
Then, with a smile, thou didst say--"Every creature confides naturally
in its own kind. You are both inhabitants of the same forest, and have
learnt to trust each other."

KING.--Voluptuaries may allow themselves to be seduced from the path of
duty by falsehoods such as these, expressed in honeyed words.

GAUTAMÍ.--Speak not thus, illustrious Prince. This lady was brought up
in a hermitage, and has never learnt deceit.

KING.--Holy matron,
    E'en in untutored brutes, the female sex
    Is marked by inborn subtlety--much more
    In beings gifted with intelligence.
    The wily Köil, ere towards the sky
    She wings her sportive flight, commits her eggs
    To other nests, and artfully consigns
    The rearing of her little ones to strangers.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_angrily_].--Dishonorable man, thou judgest of others by
thine own evil heart. Thou, at least, art unrivalled in perfidy, and
standest alone--a base deceiver in the garb of virtue and religion--like
a deep pit whose yawning mouth is concealed by smiling flowers.

KING [_aside_].--Her anger, at any rate, appears genuine, and makes me
almost doubt whether I am in the right. For, indeed,
    When I had vainly searched my memory,
    And so with stern severity denied
    The fabled story of our secret loves,
    Her brows, that met before in graceful curves,
    Like the arched weapon of the god of love,
    Seemed by her frown dissevered; while the fire
    Of sudden anger kindled in her eyes.

[_Aloud_.] My good lady, Dushyanta's character is well-known to all. I
comprehend not your meaning.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Well do I deserve to be thought a harlot for having, in the
innocence of my heart, and out of the confidence I reposed in a Prince
of Puru's race, intrusted my honor to a man whose mouth distils honey,
while his heart is full of poison.
          [_Covers her face with her mantle, and bursts into tears_.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Thus is it that burning remorse must ever follow rash
actions which might have been avoided, and for which one has only one's
self to blame.
    Not hastily should marriage be contracted,
    And specially in secret. Many a time,
    In hearts that know not each the other's fancies,
    Fond love is changed into most bitter hate.

KING.--How now! Do you give credence to this woman rather than to me,
that you heap such accusations on me?

ŚÁRNGARAVA [_sarcastically_].--That would be too absurd, certainly. You
have heard the proverb--
    Hold in contempt the innocent words of those
    Who from their infancy have known no guile:--
    But trust the treacherous counsels of the man
    Who makes a very science of deceit.

KING.--Most veracious Bráhman, grant that you are in the right, what end
would be gained by betraying this lady?


KING.--No one will believe that a Prince of Puru's race would seek to
ruin others or himself.

ŚÁRADWATA.--This altercation is idle, Śárngarava. We have executed the
commission of our preceptor; come, let us return. [_To the King_.
    Śakoontalá is certainly thy bride;
    Receive her or reject her, she is thine.
    Do with her, King, according to thy pleasure--
    The husband o'er the wife is absolute.
Go on before us, Gautamí.          [_They move away_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--What! is it not enough to have been betrayed by this
perfidious man? Must you also forsake me, regardless of my tears and
          [_Attempts to follow them_.

GAUTAMÍ [_stopping_].--My son Śárngarava, see, Śakoontalá is following
us, and with tears implores us not to leave her. Alas! poor child, what
will she do here with a cruel husband who casts her from him?

ŚÁRNGARAVA [_turning angrily towards her_].--Wilful woman, dost thou
seek to be independent of thy lord?
          [_Śakoontalá trembles with fear_.

    If thou art really what the King proclaims thee,
    How can thy father e'er receive thee back
    Into his house and home? but, if thy conscience
    Be witness to thy purity of soul,
    E'en should thy husband to a handmaid's lot
    Condemn thee, thou may'st cheerfully endure it,
    When ranked among the number of his household.

Thy duty, therefore, is to stay. As for us, we must return immediately.

KING.--Deceive not the lady, my good hermit, by any such expectations.
    The moon expands the lotus of the night,
    The rising sun awakes the lily; each
    Is with his own contented. Even so
    The virtuous man is master of his passions,
    And from another's wife averts his gaze.

ŚÁRNGARAVA.--Since thy union with another woman has rendered thee
oblivious of thy marriage with Śakoontalá, whence this fear of losing
thy character for constancy and virtue?

KING [_to the Priest_],--You must counsel me, revered sir, as to my
course of action. Which of the two evils involves the greater or less
    Whether by some dark veil my mind be clouded,
    Or this designing woman speak untruly,
    I know not. Tell me, must I rather be
    The base disowner of my wedded wife,
    Or the defiling and defiled adulterer?

PRIEST [_after deliberation_].--You must take an intermediate course.

KING.--What course, revered sir? Tell me at once.

PRIEST.--I will provide an asylum for the lady in my own house until the
birth of her child; and my reason, if you ask me, is this. Soothsayers
have predicted that your first-born will have universal dominion. Now,
if the hermit's daughter bring forth a son with the discus or mark of
empire in the lines of his hand, you must admit her immediately into
your royal apartments with great rejoicings; if not, then determine to
send her back as soon as possible to her father.

KING.--I bow to the decision of my spiritual adviser.

PRIEST.--Daughter, follow me.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--O divine earth, open and receive me into thy bosom!

[_Exit Śakoontalá weeping, with the Priest and the Hermits. The King
remains absorbed in thinking of her, though the curse still clouds his

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--A miracle! a miracle!

KING [_listening_].--What has happened now?

PRIEST [_entering with an air of astonishment_].--Great Prince, a
stupendous prodigy has just occurred!

KING.--What is it?

PRIEST.--May it please your Majesty, so soon as Kanwa's pupils had
    Śakoontalá, her eyes all bathed in tears,
    With outstretched arms bewailed her cruel fate--

KING.--Well, well, what happened then?

PRIEST.--When suddenly a shining apparition, In female shape, descended
from the skies, Near the nymphs' pool, and bore her up to heaven.

          [_All remain motionless with astonishment_.

KING.--My good priest, from the very first I declined having anything to
do with this matter. It is now all over, and we can never, by our
conjectures, unravel the mystery; let it rest; go, seek repose.

PRIEST [_looking at the King_].--Be it so. Victory to the King! [_Exit._

KING.--Vetravatí, I am tired out; lead the way to the bed-chamber.

WARDER.--This way, Sire. [_They move away_.

KING.--Do what I will, I cannot call to mind
    That I did e'er espouse the sage's daughter--
    Therefore I have disowned her; yet 'tis strange
    How painfully my agitated heart
    Bears witness to the truth of her assertion,
    And makes me credit her against my judgment.


Scene.--A Street

_Enter the King's brother-in-law as Superintendent of the city police;
and with him two Constables, dragging a poor fisherman, who has his
hands tied behind his back_.

BOTH THE CONSTABLES [_striking the prisoner_].--Take that for a rascally
thief that you are; and now tell us, sirrah, where you found this
ring--aye, the King's own signet-ring. See, here is the royal name
engraved on the setting of the jewel.

FISHERMAN [_with a gesture of alarm_].--Mercy! kind sirs, mercy! I did
not steal it; indeed I did not.

FIRST CONSTABLE.--Oh! then I suppose the King took you for some fine
Bráhman, and made you a present of it?

FISHERMAN.--Only hear me. I am but a poor fisherman, living at

SECOND CONSTABLE.--Scoundrel, who ever asked you, pray, for a history of
your birth and parentage?

SUPERINTENDENT [_to one of the Constables_].--Súchaka, let the fellow
tell his own story from the beginning. Don't interrupt him.

BOTH CONSTABLES.--As you please, master. Go on, then, sirrah, and say
what you've got to say.

FISHERMAN.--You see in me a poor man, who supports his family by
catching fish with nets, hooks, and the like.

SUPERINTENDENT [_laughing_].--A most refined occupation, certainly!

FISHERMAN.--Blame me not for it, master.
    The father's occupation, though despised
    By others, casts no shame upon the son,
    And he should not forsake it. Is the priest
    Who kills the animal for sacrifice
    Therefore deemed cruel? Sure a lowborn man
    May, though a fisherman, be tender-hearted.

SUPERINTENDENT.--Well, well; go on with your story.

FISHERMAN.--One day I was cutting open a large carp I had just hooked,
when the sparkle of a jewel caught my eye, and what should I find in the
fish's maw but that ring! Soon afterwards, when I was offering it for
sale, I was seized by your honors. Now you know everything. Whether you
kill me, or whether you let me go, this is the true account of how the
ring came into my possession.

SUPERINTENDENT [_to one of the Constables_].--Well, Jánuka, the rascal
emits such a fishy odor that I have no doubt of his being a fisherman;
but we must inquire a little more closely into this queer story about
the finding of the ring. Come, we'll take him before the King's

BOTH CONSTABLES.--Very good, master. Get on with you, you cutpurse.
          [_All move on_.

SUPERINTENDENT.--Now attend, Súchaka; keep you guard here at the gate;
and hark ye, sirrahs, take good care your prisoner does not escape,
while I go in and lay the whole story of the discovery of this ring
before the King in person. I will soon return and let you know his

CONSTABLE.--Go in, master, by all means; and may you find favor in the
King's sight!
          [_Exit Superintendent_.

FIRST CONSTABLE [_after an interval_].--I say, Jánuka, the
Superintendent is a long time away.

SECOND CONSTABLE.--Aye, aye; kings are not to be got at so easily. Folks
must bide the proper opportunity.

FIRST CONSTABLE.--Jánuka, my fingers itch to strike the first blow at
this royal victim here. We must kill him with all the honors, you know.
I long to begin binding the flowers round his head.
          [_Pretends to strike a blow at the fisherman_.

FISHERMAN.--Your honor surely will not put an innocent man to a cruel

SECOND CONSTABLE [_looking_].--There's our Superintendent at last, I
declare. See, he is coming towards us with a paper in his hand. We shall
soon know the King's command; so prepare, my fine fellow, either to
become food for the vultures, or to make acquaintance with some hungry

SUPERINTENDENT [_entering_].--Ho, there, Súchaka! set the fisherman at
liberty, I tell you. His story about the ring is all correct.

SÚCHAKA.--Oh! very good, sir; as you please.

SECOND CONSTABLE.--The fellow had one foot in hell, and now here he is
in the land of the living.          [_Releases him_.

FISHERMAN [_bowing to the Superintendent_].--Now, master, what think you
of my way of getting a livelihood?

SUPERINTENDENT.--Here, my good man, the King desired me to present you
with this purse. It contains a sum of money equal to the full value of
the ring.
          [_Gives him the money_.

FISHERMAN [_taking it and bowing_].--His Majesty does me too great

SÚCHAKA.--You may well say so. He might as well have taken you from the
gallows to seat you on his state elephant.

JÁNUKA.--Master, the King must value the ring very highly, or he would
never have sent such a sum of money to this ragamuffin.

SUPERINTENDENT.--I don't think he prizes it as a costly jewel so much as
a memorial of some person he tenderly loves. The moment it was shown to
him he became much agitated, though in general he conceals his feelings.

SÚCHAKA.--Then you must have done a great service------

JÁNUKA.--Yes, to this husband of a fish-wife.
          [_Looks enviously at the fisherman_.

FISHERMAN.--Here's half the money for you, my masters. It will serve to
purchase the flowers you spoke of, if not to buy me your good-will.

JÁNUKA.--Well, now, that's just as it should be.

SUPERINTENDENT.--My good fisherman, you are an excellent fellow, and I
begin to feel quite a regard for you. Let us seal our first friendship
over a glass of good liquor. Come along to the next wine-shop and we'll
drink your health.

ALL.--By all means.


Scene.--The Garden of the Palace

_The nymph Sánumatí is seen descending in a celestial car_.

SÁNUMATÍ.--Behold me just arrived from attending in my proper turn at
the nymphs' pool, where I have left the other nymphs to perform their
ablutions, whilst I seek to ascertain, with my own eyes, how it fares
with King Dushyanta. My connection with the nymph Menaká has made her
daughter Śakoontalá dearer to me than my own flesh and blood; and Menaká
it was who charged me with this errand on her daughter's behalf.
[_Looking round in all directions_.] How is it that I see no
preparations in the King's household for celebrating the great vernal
festival? I could easily discover the reason by my divine faculty of
meditation; but respect must be shown to the wishes of my friend. How
then shall I arrive at the truth? I know what I will do. I will become
invisible, and place myself near those two maidens who are tending the
plants in the garden.          [_Descends and takes her station_.

_Enter a Maiden, who stops in front of a mango-tree and gazes at the
blossom. Another Maiden is seen behind her_.

FIRST MAIDEN.--Hail to thee, lovely harbinger of spring! The varied
radiance of thy opening flowers Is welcome to my sight. I bid thee hail,
Sweet mango, soul of this enchanting season.

SECOND MAIDEN.--Parabaitiká, what are you saying there to yourself?

FIRST MAIDEN.--Dear Madhukariká, am I not named after the Köil?[41] and
does not the Köil sing for joy at the first appearance of the

SECOND MAIDEN [_approaching hastily, with transport_].--What! is spring
really come?

FIRST MAIDEN.--Yes, indeed, Madhukariká, and with it the season of joy,
love, and song.

SECOND MAIDEN.--Let me lean upon you, dear, while I stand on tip-toe and
pluck a blossom of the mango, that I may present it as an offering to
the god of love.

FIRST MAIDEN.--Provided you let me have half the reward which the god
will bestow in return.

SECOND MAIDEN.--To be sure you shall, and that without asking. Are we
not one in heart and soul, though divided in body? [_Leans on her friend
and plucks a mango-blossom._] Ah! here is a bud just bursting into
flower. It diffuses a delicious perfume, though not yet quite expanded.
          [_Joining her hands reverentially_.

    God of the bow, who with spring's choicest flowers
    Dost point thy five unerring shafts; to thee
    I dedicate this blossom; let it serve
    To barb thy truest arrow; be its mark
    Some youthful heart that pines to be beloved.

          [_Throws down a mango-blossom._

CHAMBERLAIN [_entering in a hurried manner, angrily_].--Hold there,
thoughtless woman. What are you about breaking off those mango-blossoms,
when the King has forbidden the celebration of the spring festival?

BOTH MAIDENS [_alarmed_].--Pardon us, kind sir, we have heard nothing of

CHAMBERLAIN.--You have heard nothing of it? Why, all the vernal plants
and shrubs, and the very birds that lodge in their branches, show more
respect to the King's order than you do.
    Yon mango-blossoms, though long since expanded,
    Gather no down upon their tender crests;
    The flower still lingers in the amaranth,
    Imprisoned in its bud; the tuneful Köil,
    Though winter's chilly dews be overpast,
    Suspends the liquid volume of his song
    Scarce uttered in his throat; e'en Love, dismayed,
    Restores the half-drawn arrow to his quiver.

BOTH MAIDENS.--The mighty power of King Dushyanta is not to be disputed.

FIRST MAIDEN.--It is but a few days since Mitrávasu, the king's
brother-in-law, sent us to wait upon his Majesty; and, during the whole
of our sojourn here, we have been intrusted with the charge of the royal
pleasure-grounds. We are therefore strangers in this place, and heard
nothing of the order until you informed us of it.

CHAMBERLAIN.--Well then, now you know it, take care you don't continue
your preparations.

BOTH MAIDENS.--But tell us, kind sir, why has the King prohibited the
usual festivities? We are curious to hear, if we may.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Men are naturally fond of festive entertainments.
There must be some good reason for the prohibition.

CHAMBERLAIN.--The whole affair is now public; why should I not speak of
it! Has not the gossip about the King's rejection of Śakoontalá reached
your ears yet?

BOTH MAIDENS.--Oh yes, we heard the story from the King's
brother-in-law, as far, at least, as the discovery of the ring.

CHAMBERLAIN.--Then there is little more to tell you. As soon as the
King's memory was restored by the sight of his own ring, he exclaimed,
"Yes, it is all true. I remember now my secret marriage with Śakoontalá.
When I repudiated her, I had lost my recollection." Ever since that
moment, he has yielded himself a prey to the bitterest remorse.
    He loathes his former pleasures; he rejects
    The daily homage of his ministers.
    On his lone couch he tosses to and fro,
    Courting repose in vain. Whene'er he meets
    The ladies of his palace, and would fain
    Address them with politeness, he confounds
    Their names; or, calling them "Śakoontalá,"
    Is straightway silent and abashed with shame.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--To me this account is delightful.

CHAMBERLAIN.--In short, the King is so completely out of his mind that
the festival has been prohibited.

BOTH MAIDENS.--Perfectly right.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--The King! the King! This way, Sire, this

CHAMBERLAIN [_listening_].--Oh! here comes his majesty in this
direction. Pass on, maidens; attend to your duties.

BOTH MAIDENS.--We will, sir. [_Exeunt._

_Enter King Dushyanta, dressed in deep mourning, attended by his Jester,
Máthavya, and preceded by Vetravatí._

CHAMBERLAIN [_gazing at the King_].--Well, noble forms are certainly
pleasing, under all varieties of outward circumstances. The King's
person is as charming as ever, notwithstanding his sorrow of mind.
    Though but a single golden bracelet spans
    His wasted arm; though costly ornaments
    Have given place to penitential weeds;
    Though oft-repeated sighs have blanched his lips,
    And robbed them of their bloom; though sleepless care
    And carking thought have dimmed his beaming eye;
    Yet does his form, by its inherent lustre,
    Dazzle the gaze; and, like a priceless gem
    Committed to some cunning polisher,
    Grow more effulgent by the loss of substance.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside. Looking at the King_].--Now that I have seen him, I
can well understand why Śakoontalá should pine after such a man, in
spite of his disdainful rejection of her.

KING [_walking slowly up and down, in deep thought_].--
    When fatal lethargy overwhelmed my soul,
    My loved one strove to rouse me, but in vain:--
    And now when I would fain in slumber deep
    Forget myself, full soon remorse doth wake me.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--My poor Śakoontalá's sufferings are very similar.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--He is taken with another attack of this odious
Śakoontalá fever. How shall we ever cure him?

CHAMBERLAIN [_approaching_].--Victory to the King! Great Prince, the
royal pleasure-grounds have been put in order. Your Majesty can resort
to them for exercise and amusement whenever you think proper.

KING.--Vetravatí, tell the worthy Piśuna, my prime minister, from me,
that I am so exhausted by want of sleep that I cannot sit on the
judgment-seat to-day. If any case of importance be brought before the
tribunal he must give it his best attention, and inform me of the
circumstances by letter.

VETRAVATÍ.--Your Majesty's commands shall be obeyed. [_Exit._

KING [_to the Chamberlain_].--And you, Vátáyana, may go about your own

CHAMBERLAIN.--I will, Sire. [_Exit._

MÁTHAVYA.--Now that you have rid yourself of these troublesome fellows,
you can enjoy the delightful coolness of your pleasure-grounds without

KING.--Ah! my dear friend, there is an old adage--"When affliction has a
mind to enter, she will find a crevice somewhere"--and it is verified in
    Scarce is my soul delivered from the cloud
    That darkened its remembrance of the past,
    When lo! the heart-born deity of love
    With yonder blossom of the mango barbs
    His keenest shaft, and aims it at my breast.

MÁTHAVYA.--Well, then, wait a moment; I will soon demolish Master Káma's
arrow with a cut of my cane.

          [_Raises his stick and strikes off the mango-blossom._

KING [_smiling_].--That will do. I see very well the god of Love is not
a match for a Bráhman. And now, my dear friend, where shall I sit down,
that I may enchant my sight by gazing on the twining plants, which seem
to remind me of the graceful shape of my beloved?

MÁTHAVYA.--Do you not remember? you told Chaturiká you should pass the
heat of the day in the jasmine bower; and commanded her to bring the
likeness of your queen Śakoontalá, sketched with your own hand.

KING.--True. The sight of her picture will refresh my soul. Lead the way
to the arbor.

MÁTHAVYA.--This way, Sire.

          [_Both move on, followed by Sánumatí._

MÁTHAVYA.--Here we are at the jasmine bower. Look, it has a marble seat,
and seems to bid us welcome with its offerings of delicious flowers. You
have only to enter and sit down. [_Both enter and seat themselves._

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--I will lean against these young jasmines. I can
easily, from behind them, glance at my friend's picture, and will then
hasten to inform her of her husband's ardent affection. [_Stands leaning
against the creepers_.

KING.--Oh! my dear friend, how vividly all the circumstances of my union
with Śakoontalá present themselves to my recollection at this moment!
But tell me now how it was that, between the time of my leaving her in
the hermitage and my subsequent rejection of her, you never breathed her
name to me! True, you were not by my side when I disowned her; but I had
confided to you the story of my love and you were acquainted with every
particular. Did it pass out of your mind as it did out of mine?

MÁTHAVYA.--No, no; trust me for that. But, if you remember, when you had
finished telling me about it, you added that I was not to take the story
in earnest, for that you were not really in love with a country girl,
but were only jesting; and I was dull and thick-headed enough to believe
you. But so fate decreed, and there is no help for it.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Exactly.

KING [_after deep thought_].--My dear friend, suggest some relief for my

MÁTHAVYA.--Come, come, cheer up; why do you give way? Such weakness is
unworthy of you. Great men never surrender themselves to uncontrolled
grief. Do not mountains remain unshaken even in a gale of wind?

KING.--How can I be otherwise than inconsolable, when I call to mind the
agonized demeanor of the dear one on the occasion of my disowning her?
    When cruelly I spurned her from my presence,
    She fain had left me; but the young recluse,
    Stern as the Sage, and with authority
    As from his saintly master, in a voice
    That brooked not contradiction, bade her stay.
    Then through her pleading eyes, bedimmed with tears,
    She cast on me one long reproachful look,
    Which like a poisoned shaft torments me still.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Alas! such is the force of self-reproach following
a rash action. But his anguish only rejoices me.

MÁTHAVYA.--An idea has just struck me. I should not wonder if some
celestial being had carried her off to heaven.

KING.--Very likely. Who else would have dared to lay a
finger on a wife, the idol of her husband? It is said that Menaká, the
nymph of heaven, gave her birth. The suspicion has certainly crossed my
mind that some of her celestial companions may have taken her to their
own abode.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--His present recollection of every circumstance of
her history does not surprise me so much as his former forgetfulness.

MÁTHAVYA.--If that's the case, you will be certain to meet her before


MÁTHAVYA.--No father and mother can endure to see a daughter suffering
the pain of separation from her husband.

KING.--Oh! my dear Máthavya,
    Was it a dream? or did some magic dire,
    Dulling my senses with a strange delusion,
    Overcome my spirit? or did destiny,
    Jealous of my good actions, mar their fruit,
    And rob me of their guerdon? It is past,
    Whatever the spell that bound me. Once again
    Am I awake, but only to behold
    The precipice o'er which my hopes have fallen.

MÁTHAVYA.--Do not despair in this manner. Is not this very ring a proof
that what has been lost may be unexpectedly found?

KING [_gazing at the ring_].--Ah! this ring, too, has fallen from a
station which it will not easily regain, and deserves all my sympathy.
    O gem, deserved the punishment we suffer,
    And equal is the merit of our works,
    When such our common doom. Thou didst enjoy
    The thrilling contact of those slender fingers,
    Bright as the dawn; and now how changed thy lot!

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Had it found its way to the hand of any other
person, then indeed its fate would have been deplorable.

MÁTHAVYA.--Pray, how did the ring ever come upon her hand at all?

SÁNUMATÍ.--I myself am curious to know.

KING.--You shall hear. When I was leaving my beloved Śakoontalá that I
might return to my own capital, she said to me, with tears in her eyes,
"How long will it be ere my lord send for me to his palace and make me
his queen?"

MÁTHAVYA.--Well, what was your reply?

KING.--Then I placed the ring on her finger, and thus addressed her--
    Repeat each day one letter of the name
    Engraven on this gem; ere thou hast reckoned
    The tale of syllables, my minister
    Shall come to lead thee to thy husband's palace.
But, hard-hearted man that I was, I forgot to fulfil my promise, owing
to the infatuation that took possession of me.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--A pleasant arrangement! Fate, however, ordained
that the appointment should not be kept.

MÁTHAVYA.--But how did the ring contrive to pass into the stomach of
that carp which the fisherman caught and was cutting up?

KING.--It must have slipped from my Śakoontalá's hand, and fallen into
the stream of the Ganges, while she was offering homage to the water of
Sachí's holy pool.

MÁTHAVYA.--Very likely.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Hence it happened, I suppose, that the King, always
fearful of committing the least injustice, came to doubt his marriage
with my poor Śakoontalá. But why should affection so strong as his stand
in need of any token of recognition?

KING.--Let me now address a few words of reproof to this ring.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--He is going stark mad, I verily believe.

KING.--Hear me, thou dull and undiscerning bauble!
    For so it argues thee, that thou couldst leave
    The slender fingers of her hand, to sink
    Beneath the waters. Yet what marvel is it
    That thou shouldst lack discernment? let me rather
    Heap curses on myself, who, though endowed
    With reason, yet rejected her I loved.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--And so, I suppose, I must stand here to be devoured
by hunger, whilst he goes on in this sentimental strain.

KING.--O forsaken one, unjustly banished from my presence, take pity on
thy slave, whose heart is consumed by the fire of remorse, and return to
my sight.

_Enter Chaturiká hurriedly, with a picture in her hand_.

CHATURIKÁ.--Here is the Queen's portrait. [_Shows the picture_.

MÁTHAVYA.--Excellent, my dear friend, excellent! The imitation of nature
is perfect, and the attitude of the figures is really charming. They
stand out in such bold relief that the eye is quite deceived.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--A most artistic performance! I admire the King's
skill, and could almost believe that Śakoontalá herself was before me.

KING.--I own 'tis not amiss, though it portrays
    But feebly her angelic loveliness.
    Aught less than perfect is depicted falsely,
    And fancy must supply the imperfection.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--A very just remark from a modest man, whose
affection is exaggerated by the keenness of his remorse.

MÁTHAVYA.--Tell me--I see three female figures drawn on the canvas, and
all of them beautiful; which of the three is her Majesty, Śakoontalá?

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--If he cannot distinguish her from the others, the
simpleton might as well have no eyes in his head.

KING.--Which should you imagine to be intended for her?

MÁTHAVYA.--She who is leaning, apparently a little tired, against the
stem of that mango-tree, the tender leaves of which glitter with the
water she has poured upon them. Her arms are gracefully extended; her
face is somewhat flushed with the heat; and a few flowers have escaped
from her hair, which has become unfastened, and hangs in loose tresses
about her neck. That must be the queen Śakoontalá, and the others, I
presume, are her two attendants.

KING.--I congratulate you on your discernment. Behold the proof of my
    My finger, burning with the glow of love,
    Has left its impress on the painted tablet;
    While here and there, alas! a scalding tear
    Has fallen on the cheek and dimmed its brightness.
    Chaturiká, the garden in the background of the picture is
    only half-painted. Go, fetch the brush that I may finish it.

CHATURIKÁ.--Worthy Máthavya, have the kindness to hold the picture until
I return.

KING.--Nay, I will hold it myself.
          [_Takes the picture. Exit Chaturiká_.

KING.--My loved one came but lately to my presence
    And offered me herself, but in my folly
    I spurned the gift, and now I fondly cling
    To her mere image; even as a madman
    Would pass the waters of the gushing stream,
    And thirst for airy vapors of the desert.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--He has been fool enough to forego the reality for
the semblance, the substance for the shadow. [_Aloud._] Tell us, I pray,
what else remains to be painted.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--He longs, no doubt, to delineate some favorite spot
where my dear Śakoontalá delighted to ramble.

KING.--You shall hear------
    I wish to see the Máliní portrayed,
    Its tranquil course by banks of sand impeded--
    Upon the brink a pair of swans: beyond,
    The hills adjacent to Himálaya,
    Studded with deer; and, near the spreading shade
    Of some large tree, where 'mid the branches hang
    The hermits' vests of bark, a tender doe,
    Rubbing its downy forehead on the horn
    Of a black antelope, should be depicted.

MÁTHAVYA [_aside_].--Pooh! if I were he, I would fill up the vacant
spaces with a lot of grizzly-bearded old hermits.

KING.--My dear Máthavya, there is still a part of Śakoontalá's dress
which I purposed to draw, but find I have omitted.

MÁTHAVYA.--What is that?

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Something suitable, I suppose, to the simple attire
of a young and beautiful girl dwelling in a forest.

KING.--A sweet Śirísha blossom should be twined
    Behind her ear, its perfumed crest depending
    Towards her cheek; and, resting on her bosom,
    A lotus-fibre necklace, soft and bright
    As an autumnal moon-beam, should be traced.

MÁTHAVYA.--Pray, why does the Queen cover her lips with the tips of her
fingers, bright as the blossom of a lily, as if she were afraid of
something? [_Looking more closely_.] Oh! I see; a vagabond bee, intent
on thieving the honey of flowers, has mistaken her mouth for a rose-bud,
and is trying to settle upon it.

KING.--A bee! drive off the impudent insect, will you?

MÁTHAVYA.--That's your business. Your royal prerogative gives you power
over all offenders.

KING.--Very true. Listen to me, thou favorite guest of flowering plants;
why give thyself the trouble of hovering here? See where thy partner
sits on yonder flower, And waits for thee ere she will sip its dew.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--A most polite way of warning him off!

MÁTHAVYA.--You'll find the obstinate creature is not to be sent about
his business so easily as you think.

KING.--Dost thou presume to disobey? Now hear me--
    An thou but touch the lips of my beloved,
    Sweet as the opening blossom, whence I quaffed
    In happier days love's nectar, I will place thee
    Within the hollow of yon lotus cup,
    And there imprison thee for thy presumption.

MÁTHAVYA.--He must be bold indeed not to show any fear when you threaten
him with such an awful punishment. [_Smiling, aside_.] He is stark mad,
that's clear; and I believe, by keeping him company, I am beginning to
talk almost as wildly. [_Aloud_.] Look, it is only a painted bee.

KING.--Painted? impossible!

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Even I did not perceive it; how much less should

KING.--Oh! my dear friend, why were you so ill-natured as to tell me the
    While, all entranced, I gazed upon her picture,
    My loved one seemed to live before my eyes,
    Till every fibre of my being thrilled
    With rapturous emotion. Oh! 'twas cruel
    To dissipate the day-dream, and transform
    The blissful vision to a lifeless image.
          [_Sheds tears_.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Separated lovers are very difficult to please; but
he seems more difficult than usual.

KING.--Alas! my dear Máthavya, why am I doomed to be the victim of
perpetual disappointment?
    Vain is the hope of meeting her in dreams,
    For slumber night by night forsakes my couch:
    And now that I would fain assuage my grief
    By gazing on her portrait here before me,
    Tears of despairing love obscure my sight.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_],--You have made ample amends for the wrong you did
Śakoontalá in disowning her.

CHATURIKÁ [_entering_].--Victory to the King! I was coming along with
the box of colors in my hand------

KING.--What now?

CHATURIKÁ.--When I met the Queen Vasumatí, attended by Taraliká. She
insisted on taking it from me, and declared she would herself deliver it
into your Majesty's hands.

MÁTHAVYA.--By what luck did you contrive to escape her?

CHATURIKÁ.--While her maid was disengaging her mantle, which had caught
in the branch of a shrub, I ran away.

KING.--Here, my good friend, take the picture and conceal it. My
attentions to the Queen have made her presumptuous. She will be here in
a minute.

MÁTHAVYA.--Conceal the picture! conceal myself, you mean. [_Getting up
and taking the picture_.] The Queen has a bitter draught in store for
you, which you will have to swallow as Siva did the poison at the
Deluge. When you are well quit of her, you may send and call me from the
Palace of Clouds,[42] where I shall take refuge.
          [_Exit, running_.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Although the King's affections are transferred to
another object, yet he respects his previous attachments. I fear his
love must be somewhat fickle.

VETRAVATÍ [_entering with a despatch in her hand_].--Victory to the

KING.---Vetravatí, did you observe the Queen Vasumatí coming in this

VETRAVATÍ.--I did; but when she saw that I had a despatch in my hand for
your Majesty, she turned back.

KING.--The Queen has too much regard for propriety to interrupt me when
I am engaged with state-affairs.

VETRAVATÍ.--So please your Majesty, your Prime Minister begs
respectfully to inform you that he has devoted much time to the
settlement of financial calculations, and only one case of importance
has been submitted by the citizens for his consideration. He has made a
written report of the facts, and requests your Majesty to cast your eyes
over it.

KING.--Hand me the paper.
          [_Vetravatí delivers it_.

KING [_reading_].--What have we here? "A merchant named Dhanamitra,
trading by sea, was lost in a late shipwreck. Though a wealthy trader,
he was childless; and the whole of his immense property becomes by law
forfeited to the King." So writes the minister. Alas! alas! for his
childlessness. But surely, if he was wealthy, he must have had many
wives. Let an inquiry be made whether any one of them is expecting to
give birth to a child.

VETRAVATÍ.--They say that his wife, the daughter of the foreman of a
guild belonging to Ayodhyá, has just completed the ceremonies usual upon
such expectations.

KING.--The unborn child has a title to his father's property. Such is my
decree. Go, bid my minister proclaim it so.

VETRAVATÍ.--I will, my liege.          [_Going_.

KING.--Stay a moment.

VETRAVATÍ.--I am at your Majesty's service.

KING.--Let there be no question whether he may or may not have left
    Rather be it proclaimed that whosoe'er
    Of King Dushyanta's subjects be bereaved
    Of any loved relation, an it be not
    That his estates are forfeited for crimes,
    Dushyanta will himself to them supply
    That kinsman's place in tenderest affection.

VETRAVATÍ.--It shall be so proclaimed.

          [_Exit Vetravatí, and reënter after an interval_.

VETRAVATÍ.--Your Majesty's proclamation was received with acclamations
of joy, like grateful rain at the right season.

KING [_drawing a deep sigh_].--So then, the property of rich men, who
have no lineal descendants, passes over to a stranger at their decease.
And such, alas! must be the fate of the fortunes of the race of Puru at
my death; even as when fertile soil is sown with seed at the wrong

VETRAVATÍ.--Heaven forbid!

KING.--Fool that I was to reject such happiness when it offered itself
for my acceptance!

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--He may well blame his own folly when he calls to
mind his treatment of my beloved Śakoontalá.

KING.--Ah! woe is me? when I forsook my wife--
    My lawful wife--concealed within her breast
    There lay my second self, a child unborn,
    Hope of my race, e'en as the choicest fruit
    Lies hidden in the bosom of the earth.

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--There is no fear of your race being cut off for
want of a son.

CHATURIKÁ [_aside to Vetravatí_].--The affair of the merchant's death
has quite upset our royal master, and caused him sad distress. Had you
not better fetch the worthy Máthavya from the Palace of Clouds to
comfort him?

VETRAVATÍ.--A very good idea. [_Exit_.

KING.--Alas! the shades of my forefathers are even now beginning to be
alarmed, lest at my death they may be deprived of their funeral
    No son remains in King Dushyanta's place
    To offer sacred homage to the dead
    Of Puru's noble line: my ancestors
    Must drink these glistening tears, the last libation
    A childless man can ever hope to make them.
          [_Falls down in an agony of grief_.

CHATURIKÁ [_looking at him in consternation_].--Great King, compose

SÁNUMATÍ [_aside_].--Alas! alas! though a bright light is shining near
him, he is involved in the blackest darkness, by reason of the veil that
obscures his sight. I will now reveal all, and put an end to his misery.
But no; I heard the mother of the great Indra, when she was consoling
Śakoontalá, say, that the gods will soon bring about a joyful union
between husband and wife, being eager for the sacrifice which will be
celebrated in their honor on the occasion. I must not anticipate the
happy moment, but will return at once to my dear friend and cheer her
with an account of what I have seen and heard.
          [_Rises aloft and disappears_.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Help! help! to the rescue!

KING [_recovering himself. Listening_].--Ha! I heard a cry of distress,
and in Máthavya's voice. What ho there!

VETRAVATÍ [_entering_].--Your friend is in danger; save him, great King.

KING.--Who dares insult the worthy Máthavya?

VETRAVATÍ.--Some evil demon, invisible to human eyes, has seized him,
and carried him to one of the turrets of the Palace of Clouds.

KING [_rising_].--Impossible! Have evil spirits power over my subjects,
even in my private apartments? Well, well--
    Daily I seem less able to avert
    Misfortune from myself, and o'er my actions
    Less competent to exercise control;
    How can I then direct my subjects' ways,
    Or shelter them from tyranny and wrong?

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Halloo there! my dear friend; help!

KING [_advancing with rapid strides_].--Fear nothing--

THE SAME VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Fear nothing, indeed! How can I
help fearing when some monster is twisting back my neck, and is about to
snap it as he would a sugarcane?

KING [_looking round_].--What ho there! my bow.

SLAVE [_entering with a bow_].--Behold your bow, Sire, and your

          [_The king snatches up the bow and arrows_.

ANOTHER VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Here, thirsting for thy
life-blood, will I slay thee, As a fierce tiger rends his struggling
prey. Call now thy friend Dushyanta to thy aid; His bow is mighty to
defend the weak; Yet all its vaunted power shall be as nought.

KING [_with fury_].--What! dares he defy me to my face? Hold there,
monster! Prepare to die, for your time is come. [_Stringing his bow_.]
Vetravatí, lead the way to the terrace.

VETRAVATÍ.--This way, Sire. [_They advance in haste_.

KING [_looking on every side_].--How's this? there is nothing to be

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Help! Save me! I can see you, though you
cannot see me. I am like a mouse in the claws of a cat; my life is not
worth a moment's purchase.

KING.--Avaunt, monster! You may pride yourself on the magic that renders
you invisible, but my arrow shall find you out. Thus do I fix a shaft
    That shall discern between an impious demon
    And a good Bráhman; bearing death to thee,
    To him deliverance--even as the swan
    Distinguishes the milk from worthless water.
          [_Takes aim_.

          _Enter Mátali, holding Máthavya, whom he releases_.

MÁTALI.--Turn thou thy deadly arrows on the demons;
    Such is the will of Indra; let thy bow
    Be drawn against the enemies of the gods;
    But on thy friends cast only looks of favor.

KING [_putting back his arrow_].--What, Mátali! Welcome, most noble
charioteer of the mighty Indra.

MÁTHAVYA.--So, here is a monster who thought as little about
slaughtering me as if I had been a bullock for sacrifice, and you must
e'en greet him with a welcome.

MÁTALI [_smiling_].--Great Prince, hear on what errand Indra sent me
into your presence.

KING.--I am all attention.

MÁTALI.--There is a race of giants, the descendants of Kálanemi, whom
the gods find difficult to subdue.

KING.--So I have already heard from Nárada.

MÁTALI.--Heaven's mighty lord, who deigns to call thee "friend,"
    Appoints thee to the post of highest honor,
    As leader of his armies; and commits
    The subjugation of this giant brood
    To thy resistless arms, e'en as the sun
    Leaves the pale moon to dissipate the darkness.

Let your Majesty, therefore, ascend at once the celestial car of Indra;
and, grasping your arms, advance to victory.

KING.--The mighty Indra honors me too highly by such a mark of
distinction. But tell me, what made you act thus towards my poor friend

MÁTALI.--I will tell you. Perceiving that your Majesty's spirit was
completely broken by some distress of mind under which you were
laboring, I determined to rouse your energies by moving you to anger.
    To light a flame, we need but stir the embers;
    The cobra, when incensed, extends his head
    And springs upon his foe; the bravest men
    Display their courage only when provoked.

KING [_aside to Máthavya_].--My dear Máthavya, the commands of the great
Indra must not be left unfulfilled. Go you and acquaint my minister,
Piśuna, with what has happened, and say to him from me, Dushyanta to thy
care confides his realm--
    Protect with all the vigor of thy mind
    The interests of my people; while my bow
    Is braced against the enemies of heaven.

MÁTHAVYA.--I obey.          [_Exit._

MÁTALI.--Ascend, illustrious Prince.
          [_The King ascends the car. Exeunt_.

[41] The Köil is the Indian cuckoo. It is sometimes called Parabhrita
(nourished by another) because the female is known to leave her eggs in
the nest of the crow to be hatched. The bird is a great favorite with
the Indian poets, as the nightingale with Europeans.

[42] Palace of King Dushyanta, so-called because it was as lofty as the


Scene.--The Sky

_Enter King Dushyanta and Mátali in the car of Indra, moving in the

KING.--My good Mátali, it appears to me incredible that I can merit such
a mark of distinction for having simply fulfilled the behests of the
great Indra.

MÁTALI [_smiling_].--Great Prince, it seems to me that neither of you is
satisfied with himself--
    You underrate the service you have rendered,
    And think too highly of the god's reward:
    He deems it scarce sufficient recompense
    For your heroic deeds on his behalf.

KING.--Nay, Mátali, say not so. My most ambitious expectations were more
than realized by the honor conferred on me at the moment when I took my
leave. For,
    Tinged with celestial sandal, from the breast
    Of the great Indra, where before it hung,
    A garland of the ever-blooming tree
    Of Nandana was cast about my neck
    By his own hand: while, in the very presence
    Of the assembled gods, I was enthroned
    Beside their mighty lord, who smiled to see
    His son Jayanta envious of the honor.

MÁTALI.--There is no mark of distinction which your Majesty does not
deserve at the hands of the immortals. See,
    Heaven's hosts acknowledge thee their second saviour;
    For now thy bow's unerring shafts (as erst
    The lion-man's terrific claws) have purged
    The empyreal sphere from taint of demons foul.

KING.--The praise of my victory must be ascribed to the majesty of
    When mighty gods make men their delegates
    In martial enterprise, to them belongs
    The palm of victory; and not to mortals.
    Could the pale Dawn dispel the shades of night,
    Did not the god of day, whose diadem
    Is jewelled with a thousand beams of light,
    Place him in front of his effulgent car?

MÁTALI.--A very just comparison. [_Driving on._] Great King, behold! the
glory of thy fame has reached even to the vault of heaven.
    Hark! yonder inmates of the starry sphere
    Sing anthems worthy of thy martial deeds,
    While with celestial colors they depict
    The story of thy victories on scrolls
    Formed of the leaves of heaven's immortal trees.

KING.--My good Mátali, yesterday, when I ascended the sky, I was so
eager to do battle with the demons, that the road by which we were
travelling towards Indra's heaven escaped my observation. Tell me, in
which path of the seven winds are we now moving?

MÁTALI.--We journey in the path of Parivaha;
    The wind that bears along the triple Ganges,
    And causes Ursa's seven stars to roll
    In their appointed orbits, scattering
    Their several rays with equal distribution.
    'Tis the same path that once was sanctified
    By the divine impression of the foot
    Of Vishnu, when, to conquer haughty Bali,
    He spanned the heavens in his second stride.

KING.--This is the reason, I suppose, that a sensation of calm repose
pervades all my senses. [_Looking down at the wheels._] Ah! Mátali, we
are descending towards the earth's atmosphere.

MÁTALI.--What makes you think so?

KING.--The car itself instructs me; we are moving
    O'er pregnant clouds, surcharged with rain; below us
    I see the moisture-loving Chátakas
    In sportive flight dart through the spokes; the steeds
    Of Indra glisten with the lightning's flash;
    And a thick mist bedews the circling wheels.

MÁTALI.--You are right; in a little while the chariot will touch the
ground, and you will be in your own dominions.

KING [_looking down_],--How wonderful is the appearance of the earth as
we rapidly descend!
    Stupendous prospect! yonder lofty hills
    Do suddenly uprear their towering heads
    Amid the plain, while from beneath their crests
    The ground receding sinks; the trees, whose stems
    Seemed lately hid within their leafy tresses,
    Rise into elevation, and display
    Their branching shoulders; yonder streams, whose waters,
    Like silver threads, but now were scarcely seen,
    Grow into mighty rivers; lo! the earth
    Seems upward hurled by some gigantic power.

MÁTALI.--Well described! [_Looking with awe._] Grand, indeed, and lovely
is the spectacle presented by the earth.

KING.--Tell me, Mátali, what is that range of mountains which, like a
bank of clouds illumined by the setting sun, pours down a stream of
gold? On one side its base dips into the eastern ocean, and on the other
side into the western.

MÁTALI.--Great Prince, it is called "Golden-peak,"[43] and is the abode
of the attendants of the god of Wealth. In this spot the highest forms
of penance are wrought out.
    There Kaśyapa, the great progenitor
    Of demons and of gods, himself the offspring
    Of the divine Maríchi, Brahmá's son,
    With Aditi, his wife, in calm seclusion,
    Does holy penance for the good of mortals.

KING.--Then I must not neglect so good an opportunity of obtaining his
blessing. I should much like to visit this venerable personage and offer
him my homage.

MÁTALI.--By all means! An excellent idea. [_Guides the car to the

KING [_in a tone of wonder_].--How's this?
    Our chariot wheels move noiselessly. Around
    No clouds of dust arise; no shock betokened
    Our contact with the earth; we seem to glide
    Above the ground, so lightly do we touch it.

MÁTALI.--Such is the difference between the car of Indra and that of
your Majesty.

KING.--In which direction, Mátali, is Kaśyapa's sacred retreat?

MÁTALI [_pointing_].--Where stands yon anchorite, towards the orb
    Of the meridian sun, immovable
    As a tree's stem, his body half-concealed
    By a huge ant-hill. Round about his breast
    No sacred cord is twined, but in its stead
    A hideous serpent's skin. In place of necklace,
    The tendrils of a withered creeper chafe
    His wasted neck. His matted hair depends
    In thick entanglement about his shoulders,
    And birds construct their nests within its folds.

KING.--I salute thee, thou man of austere devotion.

MÁTALI [_holding in the reins of the car_].--Great Prince, we are now in
the sacred grove of the holy Kaśyapa--the grove that boasts as its
ornament one of the five trees of Indra's heaven, reared by Aditi.

KING.--This sacred retreat is more delightful than heaven itself. I
could almost fancy myself bathing in a pool of nectar.

MÁTALI [_stopping the chariot_].--Descend, mighty Prince.

KING [_descending_].--And what will you do, Mátali?

MÁTALI.--The chariot will remain where I have stopped it. We may both
descend. [_Doing so._] This way, great King, [_Walking on._] You see
around you the celebrated region where the holiest sages devote
themselves to penitential rites.

KING.--I am filled with awe and wonder as I gaze.
    In such a place as this do saints of earth
    Long to complete their acts of penance; here,
    Beneath the shade of everlasting trees,
    Transplanted from the groves of Paradise,
    May they inhale the balmy air, and need
    No other nourishment; here may they bathe
    In fountains sparkling with the golden dust
    Of lilies; here, on jewelled slabs of marble,
    In meditation rapt, may they recline;
    Here, in the presence of celestial nymphs,
    E'en passion's voice is powerless to move them.

MÁTALI.--So true is it that the aspirations of the good and great are
ever soaring upwards. [_Turning round and speaking off the stage_.] Tell
me, Vriddha-śákalya, how is the divine son of Maríchi now engaged? What
sayest thou? that he is conversing with Aditi and some of the wives of
the great sages, and that they are questioning him respecting the duties
of a faithful wife?

KING [_listening_].--Then we must await the holy father's leisure.

MÁTALI [_looking at the King_].--If your Majesty will rest under the
shade, at the foot of this Aśoka-tree, I will seek an opportunity of
announcing your arrival to Indra's reputed father.

KING.--As you think proper.          [_Remains under the tree_.

MÁTALI.--Great King, I go.          [_Exit._

KING [_feeling his arm throb_].--Wherefore this causeless throbbing, O
mine arm?
    All hope has fled forever; mock me not
    With presages of good, when happiness
    Is lost, and nought but misery remains.

A VOICE [_behind the scenes_].--Be not so naughty. Do you begin already
to show a refractory spirit?

KING [_listening_].--This is no place for petulance. Who can it be whose
behavior calls for such a rebuke? [_Looking in the direction of the
sound and smiling_.] A child, is it? closely attended by two holy women.
His disposition seems anything but childlike. See,
    He braves the fury of yon lioness
    Suckling its savage offspring, and compels
    The angry whelp to leave the half-sucked dug,
    Tearing its tender mane in boisterous sport.

_Enter a child, attended by two women of the hermitage, In the manner

CHILD.--Open your mouth, my young lion, I want to count your teeth.

FIRST ATTENDANT.--You naughty child, why do you tease the animals? Know
you not that we cherish them in this hermitage as if they were our own
children? In good sooth, you have a high spirit of your own, and are
beginning already to do justice to the name Sarva-damana (All-taming),
given you by the hermits.

KING.--Strange! My heart inclines towards the boy with almost as much
affection as if he were my own child. What can be the reason? I suppose
my own childlessness makes me yearn towards the sons of others.

SECOND ATTENDANT.--This lioness will certainly attack you if you do not
release her whelp.

CHILD [_laughing_].--Oh! indeed! let her come. Much I fear her, to be
sure.          [_Pouts his under-lip in defiance_.

KING.--The germ of mighty courage lies concealed
    Within this noble infant, like a spark
    Beneath the fuel, waiting but a breath
    To fan the flame and raise a conflagration.

FIRST ATTENDANT.--Let the young lion go, like a dear child, and I will
give you something else to play with.

CHILD.--Where is it? Give it me first.
          [_Stretches out his hand._

KING [_looking at his hand_].--How's this? His hand exhibits one of
those mystic marks which are the sure prognostic of universal empire.
    His fingers stretched in eager expectation
    To grasp the wished-for toy, and knit together
    By a close-woven web, in shape resemble
    A lotus-blossom, whose expanding petals
    The early dawn has only half unfolded.

SECOND ATTENDANT.--We shall never pacify him by mere words, dear
Suvratá. Be kind enough to go to my cottage, and you will find there a
plaything belonging to Márkándeya, one of the hermit's children. It is a
peacock made of China-ware, painted in many colors. Bring it here for
the child.

FIRST ATTENDANT.--Very well.          [_Exit._

CHILD.--No, no; I shall go on playing with the young lion.

          [_Looks at the female attendant and laughs_.

KING.--I feel an unaccountable affection for this wayward child.
    How blessed the virtuous parents whose attire
    Is soiled with dust, by raising from the ground
    The child that asks a refuge in their arms!
    And happy are they while with lisping prattle,
    In accents sweetly inarticulate,
    He charms their ears; and with his artless smiles
    Gladdens their hearts, revealing to their gaze
    His tiny teeth, just budding into view.

ATTENDANT.--I see how it is. He pays me no manner of attention.
[_Looking off the stage._] I wonder whether any of the hermits are about
here. [_Seeing the King._] Kind Sir, could you come hither a moment and
help me to release the young lion from the clutch of this child, who is
teasing him in boyish play?

KING [_approaching and smiling_].--Listen to me, thou child of a mighty
    Dost thou dare show a wayward spirit here?
    Here, in this hallowed region? Take thou heed
    Lest, as the serpent's young defiles the sandal,
    Thou bring dishonor on the holy sage,
    Thy tender-hearted parent, who delights
    To shield from harm the tenants of the wood.

ATTENDANT.--Gentle Sir, I thank you; but he is not the saint's son.

KING.--His behavior and whole bearing would have led me to doubt it, had
not the place of his abode encouraged the idea.

[_Follows the child, and takes him by the hand, according to the request
of the attendant. Speaking aside._
    I marvel that the touch of this strange child
    Should thrill me with delight; if so it be,
    How must the fond caresses of a son
    Transport the father's soul who gave him being!

ATTENDANT [_looking at them both_].--Wonderful! Prodigious!

KING.--What excites your surprise, my good woman?

ATTENDANT.--I am astonished at the striking resemblance between the
child and yourself; and, what is still more extraordinary, he seems to
have taken to you kindly and submissively, though you are a stranger to

KING [_fondling the child_].--If he be not the son of the great sage, of
what family does he come, may I ask?

ATTENDANT.--Of the race of Puru.

KING [_aside_].--What! are we, then, descended from the same ancestry?
This, no doubt, accounts for the resemblance she traces between the
child and me. Certainly it has always been an established usage among
the princes of Puru's race,
    To dedicate the morning of their days
    To the world's weal, in palaces and halls,
    'Mid luxury and regal pomp abiding;
    Then, in the wane of life, to seek release
    From kingly cares, and make the hallowed shade
    Of sacred trees their last asylum, where
    As hermits they may practise self-abasement,
    And bind themselves by rigid vows of penance.
[_Aloud._] But how could mortals by their own power gain admission to
this sacred region?

ATTENDANT.--Your remark is just; but your wonder will cease when I tell
you that his mother is the offspring of a celestial nymph, and gave him
birth in the hallowed grove of Kaśyapa.

KING [_aside_].--Strange that my hopes should be again excited!
[_Aloud._] But what, let me ask, was the name of the prince whom she
deigned to honor with her hand?

ATTENDANT.--How could I think of polluting my lips by the mention of a
wretch who had the cruelty to desert his lawful wife?

KING [_aside_].--Ha! the description suits me exactly. Would I could
bring myself to inquire the name of the child's mother! [_Reflecting._]
But it is against propriety to make too minute inquiries about the wife
of another man.

FIRST ATTENDANT [_entering with the china peacock in her
hand_].--Sarva-damana, Sarva-damana, see, see, what a beautiful Śakoonta

CHILD [_looking round_].--My mother! Where? Let me go to her.

BOTH ATTENDANTS.--He mistook the word Śakoonta for Śakoontalá. The boy
dotes upon his mother, and she is ever uppermost in his thoughts.

SECOND ATTENDANT.--Nay, my dear child, I said, Look at the beauty of
this Śakoonta.

KING [_aside_].--What! is his mother's name Śakoontalá? But the name is
not uncommon among women. Alas! I fear the mere similarity of a name,
like the deceitful vapor of the desert, has once more raised my hopes
only to dash them to the ground.

CHILD [_takes the toy_].--Dear nurse, what a beautiful peacock!

FIRST ATTENDANT [_looking at the child. In great distress_].--Alas!
alas! I do not see the amulet on his wrist.

KING.--Don't distress yourself. Here it is. It fell off while he was
struggling with the young lion.

          [_Stoops to pick it up_.

BOTH ATTENDANTS.--Hold! hold! Touch it not, for your life. How
marvellous! He has actually taken it up without the slightest

[_Both raise their hands to their breasts and look at each other in

KING.--Why did you try to prevent my touching it?

FIRST ATTENDANT.--Listen, great Monarch. This amulet, known as "The
Invincible," was given to the boy by the divine son of Maríchi, soon
after his birth, when the natal ceremony was performed. Its peculiar
virtue is, that when it falls on the ground, no one excepting the father
or mother of the child can touch it unhurt.

KING.--And suppose another person touches it?

FIRST ATTENDANT.--Then it instantly becomes a serpent, and bites him.

KING.--Have you ever witnessed the transformation with your own eyes?

BOTH ATTENDANTS.--Over and over again.

KING [_with rapture. Aside_].--Joy! joy! Are then my dearest hopes to be
          [_Embraces the child_.

SECOND ATTENDANT.--Come, my dear Suvratá, we must inform Śakoontalá
immediately of this wonderful event, though we have to interrupt her in
the performance of her religious vows.

CHILD [_to the King_].--Do not hold me. I want to go to my mother.

KING.--We will go to her together, and give her joy, my son.

CHILD.--Dushyanta is my father, not you.

KING [_smiling_].--His contradiction convinces me only the more.

_Enter Śakoontalá, in widow's apparel, with her long hair twisted into a
single braid_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--I have just heard that Sarva-damana's amulet has
retained its form, though a stranger raised it from the ground. I can
hardly believe in my good fortune. Yet why should not Sánumatí's
prediction be verified?

KING [_gazing at Śakoontalá_].--Alas! can this indeed be my Śakoontalá?
    Clad in the weeds of widowhood, her face
    Emaciate with fasting, her long hair
    Twined in a single braid, her whole demeanor
    Expressive of her purity of soul:
    With patient constancy she thus prolongs
    The vow to which my cruelty condemned her.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_gazing at the King, who is pale with remorse_]. Surely this
is not like my husband; yet who can it be that dares pollute by the
pressure of his hand my child, whose amulet should protect him from a
stranger's touch?

CHILD [_going to his mother_].--Mother, who is this man that has been
kissing me and calling me his son?

KING.--My best beloved, I have indeed treated thee most cruelly, but am
now once more thy fond and affectionate lover. Refuse not to acknowledge
me as thy husband.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Be of good cheer, my heart. The anger of Destiny
is at last appeased. Heaven regards thee with compassion. But is he in
very truth my husband?

KING.--Behold me, best and loveliest of women,
    Delivered from the cloud of fatal darkness
    That erst oppressed my memory. Again
    Behold us brought together by the grace
    Of the great lord of Heaven. So the moon
    Shines forth from dim eclipse, to blend his rays
    With the soft lustre of his Rohiní.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--May my husband be victorious------
          [_She stops short, her voice choked with tears._

KING.--O fair one, though the utterance of thy prayer
    Be lost amid the torrent of thy tears,
    Yet does the sight of thy fair countenance,
    And of thy pallid lips, all unadorned
    And colorless in sorrow for my absence,
    Make me already more than conqueror.

CHILD.--Mother, who is this man?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--My child, ask the deity that presides over thy destiny.

KING [_falling at Śakoontalá's feet_].--Fairest of women, banish from
thy mind
    The memory of my cruelty; reproach
    The fell delusion that overpowered my soul,
    And blame not me, thy husband; 'tis the curse
    Of him in whom the power of darkness reigns,
    That he mistakes the gifts of those he loves
    For deadly evils. Even though a friend
    Should wreathe a garland on a blind man's brow,
    Will he not cast it from him as a serpent?

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Rise, my own husband, rise. Thou wast not to blame. My own
evil deeds, committed in a former state of being, brought down this
judgment upon me. How else could my husband, who was ever of a
compassionate disposition, have acted so unfeelingly? [_The King
rises_.] But tell me, my husband, how did the remembrance of thine
unfortunate wife return to thy mind?

KING.--As soon as my heart's anguish is removed, and its wounds are
healed, I will tell thee all.
    Oh! let me, fair one, chase away the drop
    That still bedews the fringes of thine eye;
    And let me thus efface the memory
    Of every tear that stained thy velvet cheek,
    Unnoticed and unheeded by thy lord,
    When in his madness he rejected thee.
          [_Wipes away the tear_.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_seeing the signet-ring on his finger_].--Ah! my dear
husband, is that the Lost Ring?

KING.--Yes; the moment I recovered it, my memory was restored.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--The ring was to blame in allowing itself to be lost at the
very time when I was anxious to convince my noble husband of the reality
of my marriage.

KING.--Receive it back, as the beautiful twining plant receives again
its blossom in token of its reunion with the spring.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--Nay; I can never more place confidence in it. Let my
husband retain it.

          _Enter Mátali_.

MÁTALI.--I congratulate your Majesty. Happy are you in your reunion with
your wife: happy are you in beholding the face of your son.

KING.--Yes, indeed. My heart's dearest wish has borne sweet fruit. But
tell me, Mátali, is this joyful event known to the great Indra?

MÁTALI [_smiling_].--What is unknown to the gods? But come with me,
noble Prince, the divine Kaśyapa graciously permits thee to be presented
to him.

KING.--Śakoontalá, take our child and lead the way. We will together go
into the presence of the holy Sage.

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--I shrink from entering the august presence of the great
Saint, even with my husband at my side.

KING.--Nay; on such a joyous occasion it is highly proper. Come, come; I
entreat thee.          [_All advance_.

          _Kaśyapa is discovered seated on a throne with his wife Aditi_.

KAŚYAPA [_gazing at Dushyanta. To his wife_].--O Aditi, This is the
mighty hero, King Dushyanta, Protector of the earth; who, at the head Of
the celestial armies of thy son, Does battle with the enemies of heaven.
Thanks to his bow, the thunderbolt of Indra Rests from its work, no more
the minister Of death and desolation to the world, But a mere symbol of

ADITI.--He bears in his noble form all the marks of dignity.

MÁTALI [_to Dushyanta_].--Sire, the venerable progenitors of the
celestials are gazing at your Majesty with as much affection as if you
were their son. You may advance towards them.

KING.--Are these, O Mátali, the holy pair,
    Offspring of Daksha and divine Maríchi,
    Children of Brahmá's sons, by sages deemed
    Sole fountain of celestial light, diffused
    Through twelve effulgent orbs? Are these the pair
    From whom the ruler of the triple world,
    Sovereign of gods and lord of sacrifice,
    Sprang into being? That immortal pair
    Whom Vishnu, greater than the self-existent,
    Chose for his parents, when, to save mankind,
    He took upon himself the shape of mortals?

MÁTALI.--Even so.

KING [_prostrating himself_].--Most august of beings, Dushyanta, content
to have fulfilled the commands of your son Indra, offers you his

KAŚYAPA.--My son, long may'st thou live, and happily may'st thou reign
over the earth!

ADITI.--My son, may'st thou ever be invincible in the field of battle!

ŚAKOONTALÁ.--I also prostrate myself before you, most adorable beings,
and my child with me.

KAŚYAPA.--My daughter,
    Thy lord resembles Indra, and thy child
    Is noble as Jayanta, Indra's son;
    I have no worthier blessing left for thee,
    May'st thou be faithful as the god's own wife!

ADITI.--My daughter, may'st thou be always the object of thy husband's
fondest love; and may thy son live long to be the joy of both his
parents! Be seated.

          [_All sit down in the presence of Kaśyapa_.

KAŚYAPA [_regarding each of them by turns_].--Hail to the beautiful
    Hail to her noble son! and hail to thee,
    Illustrious Prince! Rare triple combination
    Of virtue, wealth, and energy united!

KING.--Most venerable Kaśyapa, by your favor all my desires were
accomplished even before I was admitted to your presence. Never was
mortal so honored that his boon should be granted ere it was solicited.
    Bloom before fruit, the clouds before the rain--
    Cause first and then effect, in endless sequence,
    Is the unchanging law of constant nature:
    But, ere the blessing issued from thy lips,
    The wishes of my heart were all fulfilled.

MÁTALI.--It is thus that the great progenitors of the world confer

KING.--Most reverend Sage, this thy handmaid was married to me by the
Gandharva ceremony, and after a time was conducted to my palace by her
relations. Meanwhile a fatal delusion seized me; I lost my memory and
rejected her, thus committing a grievous offence against the venerable
Kanwa, who is of thy divine race. Afterwards the sight of this ring
restored my faculties, and brought back to my mind all the circumstances
of my union with his daughter. But my conduct still seems to me
    As foolish as the fancies of a man
    Who, when he sees an elephant, denies
    That 'tis an elephant, yet afterwards,
    When its huge bulk moves onward, hesitates,
    Yet will not be convinced till it has passed
    Forever from his sight, and left behind
    No vestige of its presence save its footsteps.

KASYAPA.--My son, cease to think thyself in fault. Even the delusion
that possessed thy mind was not brought about by any act of thine.
Listen to me.

KING.--I am attentive.

KASYAPA.--Know that when the nymph Menaká, the mother of Śakoontalá,
became aware of her daughter's anguish in consequence of the loss of the
ring at the nymphs' pool, and of thy subsequent rejection of her, she
brought her and confided her to the care of Aditi. And I no sooner saw
her than I ascertained by my divine power of meditation, that thy
repudiation of thy poor faithful wife had been caused entirely by the
curse of Durvásas--not by thine own fault--and that the spell would
terminate on the discovery of the ring.

KING [_drawing a deep breath_].--Oh! what a weight is taken off my mind,
now that my character is cleared of reproach.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--Joy! joy! My revered husband did not, then,
reject me without good reason, though I have no recollection of the
curse pronounced upon me. But, in all probability, I unconsciously
brought it upon myself, when I was so distracted on being separated from
my husband soon after our marriage. For I now remember that my two
friends advised me not to fail to show the ring in case he should have
forgotten me.

KAŚYAPA.--At last, my daughter, thou art happy, and hast gained thy
heart's desire. Indulge, then, no feeling of resentment against thy
partner. See, now,
    Though he repulsed thee, 'twas the sage's curse
    That clouded his remembrance; 'twas the curse
    That made thy tender husband harsh towards thee.
    Soon as the spell was broken, and his soul
    Delivered from its darkness, in a moment
    Thou didst gain thine empire o'er his heart.
    So on the tarnished surface of a mirror
    No image is reflected, till the dust
    That dimmed its wonted lustre is removed.

KING.--Holy father, see here the hope of my royal race.
          [_Takes his child by the hand_.

KAŚYAPA.--Know that he, too, will become the monarch of the whole earth.
    Soon, a resistless hero, shall he cross
    The trackless ocean, borne above the waves
    In an aerial car; and shall subdue
    The earth's seven sea-girt isles.[44] Now has he gained,
    As the brave tamer of the forest-beasts,
    The title Sarva-damana; but then
    Mankind shall hail him as King Bharata,
    And call him the supporter of the world.

KING.--We cannot but entertain the highest hopes of a child for whom
your highness performed the natal rites.

ADITI.--My revered husband, should not the intelligence be conveyed to
Kanwa, that his daughter's wishes are fulfilled, and her happiness
complete? He is Śakoontalá's foster-father. Menaká, who is one of my
attendants, is her mother, and dearly does she love her daughter.

ŚAKOONTALÁ [_aside_].--The venerable matron has given utterance to the
very wish that was in my mind.

KAŚYAPA.--His penances have gained for him the faculty of omniscience,
and the whole scene is already present to his mind's eye.

KING.--Then most assuredly he cannot be very angry with me.

KAŚYAPA.--Nevertheless it becomes us to send him intelligence of this
happy event, and hear his reply. What, ho there!

PUPIL [_entering_].--Holy father, what are your commands?

KAŚYAPA.--My good Gálava, delay not an instant, but hasten through the
air and convey to the venerable Kanwa, from me, the happy news that the
fatal spell has ceased, that Dushyanta's memory is restored, that his
daughter Śakoontalá has a son, and that she is once more tenderly
acknowledged by her husband.

PUPIL.--Your highness's commands shall be obeyed.          [_Exit._

KAŚYAPA.--And now, my dear son, take thy consort and thy child,
re-ascend the car of Indra, and return to thy imperial capital.

KING.--Most holy father, I obey.

KAŚYAPA.--And accept this blessing--
    For countless ages may the god of gods,
    Lord of the atmosphere, by copious showers
    Secure abundant harvest to thy subjects;
    And thou by frequent offerings preserve
    The Thunderer's friendship! Thus, by interchange
    Of kindly actions, may you both confer
    Unnumbered benefits on earth and heaven!

KING.--Holy father, I will strive, as far as I am able, to attain this

KAŚYAPA.--What other favor can I bestow on thee, my son?

KING.--What other can I desire? If, however, you permit me to form
another wish, I would humbly beg that the saying of the sage Bharata be
    May kings reign only for their subjects' weal!
    May the divine Saraswati, the source
    Of speech, and goddess of dramatic art,
    Be ever honored by the great and wise!
    And may the purple self-existent god,
    Whose vital Energy pervades all space,
    From future transmigrations save my soul!

          [_Exeunt omnes_.

[43] A sacred range of mountains lying along the Himálaya chain
immediately adjacent to Kailása, the paradise of Kuvera, the god of

[44] According to the mythical geography of the Hindoos the earth
consisted of seven islands surrounded by seven seas.






If Toru Dutt were alive, she would still be younger than any recognized
European writer, and yet her fame, which is already considerable, has
been entirely posthumous. Within the brief space of four years which now
divides us from the date of her decease, her genius has been revealed to
the world under many phases, and has been recognized throughout France
and England. Her name, at least, is no longer unfamiliar in the ear of
any well-read man or woman. But at the hour of her death she had
published but one book, and that book had found but two reviewers in
Europe. One of these, M. André Theuriet, the well-known poet and
novelist, gave the "Sheaf gleaned in French Fields" adequate praise in
the "Revue des Deux Mondes"; but the other, the writer of the present
notice, has a melancholy satisfaction in having been a little earlier
still in sounding the only note of welcome which reached the dying
poetess from England. It was while Professor W. Minto was editor of the
"Examiner," that one day in August, 1876, in the very heart of the dead
season for books, I happened to be in the office of that newspaper, and
was upbraiding the whole body of publishers for issuing no books worth
reviewing. At that moment the postman brought in a thin and sallow
packet with a wonderful Indian postmark on it, and containing a most
unattractive orange pamphlet of verse, printed at Bhowanipore, and
entitled "A Sheaf gleaned in French Fields, by Toru Dutt." This shabby
little book of some two hundred pages, without preface or introduction,
seemed specially destined by its particular providence to find its way
hastily into the waste-paper basket. I remember that Mr. Minto thrust it
into my unwilling hands, and said "There! see whether you can't make
something of that." A hopeless volume it seemed, with its queer type,
published at Bhowanipore, printed at the Saptahiksambad Press! But when
at last I took it out of my pocket, what was my surprise and almost
rapture to open at such verse as this:--

    "Still barred thy doors! The far East glows,
      The morning wind blows fresh and free.
    Should not the hour that wakes the rose
            Awaken also thee?

    "All look for thee, Love, Light, and Song,
      Light in the sky deep red above,
    Song, in the lark of pinions strong,
            And in my heart, true Love.

    "Apart we miss our nature's goal,
      Why strive to cheat our destinies?
    Was not my love made for thy soul?
      Thy beauty for mine eyes?
            No longer sleep,
              Oh, listen now!
            I wait and weep,
              But where art thou?"

When poetry is as good as this it does not much matter whether Rouveyre
prints it upon Whatman paper, or whether it steals to light in blurred
type from some press in Bhowanipore.

Toru Dutt was the youngest of the three children of a high-caste Hindoo
couple in Bengal. Her father, who survives them all, the Baboo Govin
Chunder Dutt, is himself distinguished among his countrymen for the
width of his views and the vigor of his intelligence. His only son,
Abju, died in 1865, at the age of fourteen, and left his two younger
sisters to console their parents. Aru, the elder daughter, born in 1854,
was eighteen months senior to Toru, the subject of this memoir, who was
born in Calcutta on March 4, 1856. With the exception of one year's
visit to Bombay, the childhood of these girls was spent in Calcutta, at
their father's garden-house. In a poem now printed for the first time,
Toru refers to the scene of her earliest memories, the circling
wilderness of foliage, the shining tank with the round leaves of the
lilies, the murmuring dusk under the vast branches of the central
casuarina-tree. Here, in a mystical retirement more irksome to a
European in fancy than to an Oriental in reality, the brain of this
wonderful child was moulded. She was pure Hindoo, full of the typical
qualities of her race and blood, and, as the present volume shows us for
the first time, preserving to the last her appreciation of the poetic
side of her ancient religion, though faith itself in Vishnu and Siva had
been cast aside with childish things and been replaced by a purer faith.
Her mother fed her imagination with the old songs and legends of their
people, stories which it was the last labor of her life to weave into
English verse; but it would seem that the marvellous faculties of Toru's
mind still slumbered, when, in her thirteenth year, her father decided
to take his daughters to Europe to learn English and French. To the end
of her days Toru was a better French than English scholar. She loved
France best, she knew its literature best, she wrote its language with
more perfect elegance. The Dutts arrived in Europe at the close of 1869,
and the girls went to school, for the first and last time, at a French
pension. They did not remain there very many months; their father took
them to Italy and England with him, and finally they attended for a
short time, but with great zeal and application, the lectures for women
at Cambridge. In November, 1873, they went back to Bengal, and the four
remaining years of Toru's life were spent in the old garden-house at
Calcutta, in a feverish dream of intellectual effort and imaginative
production. When we consider what she achieved in these forty-five
months of seclusion, it is impossible to wonder that the frail and
hectic body succumbed under so excessive a strain.

She brought with her from Europe a store of knowledge that would have
sufficed to make an English or French girl seem learned, but which in
her case was simply miraculous. Immediately on her return she began to
study Sanscrit with the same intense application which she gave to all
her work, and mastering the language with extraordinary swiftness, she
plunged into its mysterious literature. But she was born to write, and
despairing of an audience in her own language, she began to adopt ours
as a medium for her thought. Her first essay, published when she was
eighteen, was a monograph, in the "Bengal Magazine," on Leconte de
Lisle, a writer with whom she had a sympathy which is very easy to
comprehend. The austere poet of "La Mort de Valmiki" was, obviously, a
figure to whom the poet of "Sindhu" must needs be attracted on
approaching European literature. This study, which was illustrated by
translations into English verse, was followed by another on Joséphin
Soulary, in whom she saw more than her maturer judgment might have
justified. There is something very interesting and now, alas! still more
pathetic in these sturdy and workmanlike essays in unaided criticism.
Still more solitary her work became, in July, 1874, when her only
sister, Aru, died, at the age of twenty. She seems to have been no less
amiable than her sister, and if gifted with less originality and a less
forcible ambition, to have been finely accomplished. Both sisters were
well-trained musicians, with full contralto voices, and Aru had a
faculty for design which promised well. The romance of "Mlle. D'Arvers"
was originally projected for Aru to illustrate, but no page of this book
did Aru ever see.

In 1876, as we have said, appeared that obscure first volume at
Bhowanipore. The "Sheaf gleaned in French Fields" is certainly the most
imperfect of Toru's writings, but it is not the least interesting. It is
a wonderful mixture of strength and weakness, of genius overriding great
obstacles, and of talent succumbing to ignorance and inexperience. That
it should have been performed at all is so extraordinary that we forget
to be surprised at its inequality. The English verse is sometimes
exquisite; at other times the rules of our prosody are absolutely
ignored, and it is obvious that the Hindoo poetess was chanting to
herself a music that is discord in an English ear. The notes are no less
curious, and to a stranger no less bewildering. Nothing could be more
naive than the writer's ignorance at some points, or more startling than
her learning at others. On the whole, the attainment of the book was
simply astounding. It consisted of a selection of translations from
nearly one hundred French poets, chosen by the poetess herself on a
principle of her own which gradually dawned upon the careful reader. She
eschewed the Classicist writers as though they had never existed. For
her André Chenier was the next name in chronological order after Du
Bartas. Occasionally she showed a profundity of research that would have
done no discredit to Mr. Saintsbury or "le doux Assellineau." She was
ready to pronounce an opinion on Napol le Pyrénéan or detect a
plagiarism in Baudelaire. But she thought that Alexander Smith was still
alive, and she was curiously vague about the career of Sainte-Beuve.
This inequality of equipment was a thing inevitable to her isolation,
and hardly worthy recording, except to show how laborious her mind was,
and how quick to make the best of small resources.

We have already seen that the "Sheaf gleaned in French Fields" attracted
the very minimum of attention in England. In France it was talked about
a little more. M. Garcin de Tassy, the famous Orientalist, who scarcely
survived Toru by twelve months, spoke of it to Mlle. Clarisse Bader,
author of a somewhat remarkable book on the position of women in ancient
Indian society. Almost simultaneously this volume fell into the hands of
Toru, and she was moved to translate it into English, for the use of
Hindoos less instructed than herself. In January, 1877, she accordingly
wrote to Mlle. Bader requesting her authorization, and received a prompt
and kind reply. On the 18th of March Toru wrote again to this, her
solitary correspondent in the world of European literature, and her
letter, which has been preserved, shows that she had already descended
into the valley of the shadow of death:--

     "Ma constitution n'est pas forte; j'ai contracté une toux
     opiniâtre, il y a plus de deux ans, qui ne me quitte point.
     Cependant j'espère mettre la main à l'oeuvre bientôt. Je ne peux
     dire, mademoiselle, combien votre affection--car vous les aimez,
     votre livre et votre lettre en témoignent assez--pour mes
     compatriotes et mon pays me touche; et je suis fière de pouvoir le
     dire que les héroïnes de nos grandes épopées sont dignes de tout
     honneur et de tout amour. Y a-t-il d'héroïne plus touchante, plus
     aimable que Sîta? Je ne le crois pas. _Quand j'entends ma mére
     chanter, le soir, les vieux chants de notre pays, je pleure presque
     toujours_. La plainte de Sîta, quand, bannie pour la séconde fois,
     elle erre dans la vaste forêt, seule, le désespoir et l'effroi dans
     l'âme, est si pathétique qu'il n'y a personne, je crois, qui puisse
     l'entendre sans verser des larmes. Je vous envois sous ce pli deux
     petites traductions du Sanscrit, cette belle langue antique.
     Malheureusement j'ai été obligée de faire cesser mes traductions de
     Sanscrit, il y a six mois. Ma santé ne me permet pas de les

These simple and pathetic words, in which the dying poetess pours out
her heart to the one friend she had, and that one gained too late, seem
as touching and as beautiful as any strain of Marceline Valmore's
immortal verse. In English poetry I do not remember anything that
exactly parallels their resigned melancholy. Before the month of March
was over, Toru had taken to her bed. Unable to write, she continued to
read, strewing her sick-room with the latest European books, and
entering with interest into the questions raised by the Société
Asiatique of Paris, in its printed Transactions. On the 30th of July she
wrote her last letter to Mlle. Clarisse Bader, and a month later, on
August 30, 1877, at the age of twenty-one years six months and
twenty-six days, she breathed her last in her father's house in
Maniktollah street, Calcutta.

In the first distraction of grief it seemed as though her unequalled
promise had been entirely blighted, and as though she would be
remembered only by her single book. But as her father examined her
papers, one completed work after another revealed itself. First a
selection from the sonnets of the Comte de Grammont, translated into
English, turned up, and was printed in a Calcutta magazine; then some
fragments of an English story, which were printed in another Calcutta
magazine. Much more important, however, than any of these was a complete
romance, written in French, being the identical story for which her
sister Aru had proposed to make the illustrations. In the meantime Toru
was no sooner dead than she began to be famous. In May, 1878, there
appeared a second edition of the "Sheaf gleaned in French Fields," with
a touching sketch of her death, by her father; and in 1879 was
published, under the editorial care of Mlle. Clarisse Bader, the romance
of "Le Journal de Mlle. D'Arvers," forming a handsome volume of 259
pages. This book, begun, as it appears, before the family returned from
Europe, and finished nobody knows when, is an attempt to describe scenes
from modern French society, but it is less interesting as an experiment
of the fancy, than as a revelation of the mind of a young Hindoo woman
of genius. The story is simple, clearly told, and interesting; the
studies of character have nothing French about them, but they are full
of vigor and originality. The description of the hero is most
characteristically Indian:--

     "Il est beau en effet. Sa taille est haute, mais quelques-uns la
     trouveraient mince; sa chevelure noire est bouclée et tombe jusqu'á
     la nuque; ses yeux noirs sont profonds et bien fendus; le front est
     noble; la lèvre supérieure, couverte par une moustache naissante et
     noire, est parfaitement modelée; son menton a quelque chose de
     sévère; son teint est d'un blanc presque féminin, ce qui dénote sa
     haute naissance."

In this description we seem to recognize some Surya or Soma of Hindoo
mythology, and the final touch, meaningless as applied to a European,
reminds us that in India whiteness of skin has always been a sign of
aristocratic birth, from the days when it originally distinguished the
conquering Aryas from the indigenous race of the Dasyous.

As a literary composition "Mlle. D'Arvers" deserves high commendation.
It deals with the ungovernable passion of two brothers for one placid
and beautiful girl, a passion which leads to fratricide and madness.
That it is a very melancholy and tragical story is obvious from this
brief sketch of its contents, but it is remarkable for coherence and
self-restraint no less than for vigor of treatment. Toru Dutt never
sinks to melodrama in the course of her extraordinary tale, and the
wonder is that she is not more often fantastic and unreal.

But we believe that the original English poems will be ultimately found
to constitute Toru's chief legacy to posterity. These ballads form the
last and most matured of her writings, and were left so far fragmentary
at her death that the fourth and fifth in her projected series of nine
were not to be discovered in any form among her papers. It is probable
that she had not even commenced them. Her father, therefore, to give a
certain continuity to the series, has filled up these blanks with two
stories from the "Vishnupurana," which originally appeared respectively
in the "Calcutta Review" and in the "Bengal Magazine." These are
interesting, but a little rude in form, and they have not the same
peculiar value as the rhymed octo-syllabic ballads. In these last we see
Toru no longer attempting vainly, though heroically, to compete with
European literature on its own ground, but turning to the legends of her
own race and country for inspiration. No modern Oriental has given us so
strange an insight into the conscience of the Asiatic as is presented in
the story of "Prehíad," or so quaint a piece of religious fancy as the
ballad of "Jogadhya Uma." The poetess seems in these verses to be
chanting to herself those songs of her mother's race to which she always
turned with tears of pleasure. They breathe a Vedic solemnity and
simplicity of temper, and are singularly devoid of that littleness and
frivolity which seem, if we may judge by a slight experience, to be the
bane of modern India.

As to the merely technical character of these poems, it may be suggested
that in spite of much in them that is rough and inchoate, they show that
Toru was advancing in her mastery of English verse. Such a stanza as
this, selected out of many no less skilful, could hardly be recognized
as the work of one by whom the language was a late acquirement:--

    "What glorious trees! The sombre saul,
      On which the eye delights to rest--
    The betel-nut, a pillar tall,
      With feathery branches for a crest--
    The light-leaved tamarind spreading wide--
      The pale faint-scented bitter neem,
    The seemul, gorgeous as a bride,
      With flowers that have the ruby's gleam."

In other passages, of course, the text reads like a translation from
some stirring ballad, and we feel that it gives but a faint and
discordant echo of the music welling in Toru's brain. For it must
frankly be confessed that in the brief May-day of her existence she had
not time to master our language as Blanco White did, or as Chamisso
mastered German. To the end of her days, fluent and graceful as she was,
she was not entirely conversant with English, especially with the
colloquial turns of modern speech. Often a very fine thought is spoiled
for hypercritical ears by the queer turn of expression which she has
innocently given to it. These faults are found to a much smaller degree
in her miscellaneous poems. Her sonnets seem to me to be of great
beauty, and her longer piece, entitled "Our Casuarina Tree," needs no
apology for its rich and mellifluous numbers.

It is difficult to exaggerate when we try to estimate what we have lost
in the premature death of Toru Dutt. Literature has no honors which need
have been beyond the grasp of a girl who at the age of twenty-one, and
in languages separated from her own by so deep a chasm, had produced so
much of lasting worth. And her courage and fortitude were worthy of her
intelligence. Among "last words" of celebrated people, that which her
father has recorded, "It is only the physical pain that makes me cry,"
is not the least remarkable, or the least significant of strong
character. It was to a native of our island, and to one ten years senior
to Toru, to whom it was said, in words more appropriate, surely, to her
than to Oldham,

    "Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime,
    Still showed a quickness, and maturing time
    But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of Rime."

That mellow sweetness was all that Toru lacked to perfect her as an
English poet, and of no other Oriental who has ever lived can the same
be said. When the history of the literature of our country comes to be
written, there is sure to be a page in it dedicated to this fragile
exotic blossom of song.


_London, 1881_.



    "Shell-bracelets ho! Shell-bracelets ho!
      Fair maids and matrons come and buy!"
    Along the road, in morning's glow,
      The pedler raised his wonted cry.
    The road ran straight, a red, red line,
      To Khirogram, for cream renowned,
    Through pasture-meadows where the kine,
      In knee-deep grass, stood magic bound
    And half awake, involved in mist,
      That floated in dun coils profound,
    Till by the sudden sunbeams kissed
      Rich rainbow hues broke all around.

    "Shell-bracelets ho! Shell-bracelets ho!"
      The roadside trees still dripped with dew,
    And hung their blossoms like a show.
      Who heard the cry? 'Twas but a few,
    A ragged herd-boy, here and there,
      With his long stick and naked feet;
    A ploughman wending to his care,
      The field from which he hopes the wheat;
    An early traveller, hurrying fast
      To the next town; an urchin slow
    Bound for the school; these heard and passed,
      Unheeding all--"Shell-bracelets ho!"

    Pellucid spread a lake-like tank
      Beside the road now lonelier still,
    High on three sides arose the bank
      Which fruit-trees shadowed at their will;
    Upon the fourth side was the Ghat,
      With its broad stairs of marble white,
    And at the entrance-arch there sat,
      Full face against the morning light,
    A fair young woman with large eyes,
      And dark hair falling to her zone,
    She heard the pedler's cry arise,
      And eager seemed his ware to own.

    "Shell-bracelets ho! See, maiden see!
      The rich enamel sunbeam kissed!
    Happy, oh happy, shalt thou be,
      Let them but clasp that slender wrist;
    These bracelets are a mighty charm,
      They keep a lover ever true,
    And widowhood avert, and harm,
      Buy them, and thou shalt never rue.
    Just try them on!"--She stretched her hand,
      "Oh what a nice and lovely fit!
    No fairer hand, in all the land,
      And lo! the bracelet matches it."

    Dazzled the pedler on her gazed
      Till came the shadow of a fear,
    While she the bracelet arm upraised
      Against the sun to view more clear.
    Oh she was lovely, but her look
      Had something of a high command
    That filled with awe. Aside she shook
      Intruding curls by breezes fanned
    And blown across her brows and face,
      And asked the price, which when she heard
    She nodded, and with quiet grace
      For payment to her home referred.

    "And where, O maiden, is thy house?
      But no, that wrist-ring has a tongue,
    No maiden art thou, but a spouse,
      Happy, and rich, and fair, and young."
    "Far otherwise, my lord is poor,
      And him at home thou shalt not find;
    Ask for my father; at the door
      Knock loudly; he is deaf, but kind.
    Seest thou that lofty gilded spire
      Above these tufts of foliage green?
    That is our place; its point of fire
      Will guide thee o'er the tract between."

    "That is the temple spire."--"Yes, there
      We live; my father is the priest,
    The manse is near, a building fair
      But lowly, to the temple's east.
    When thou hast knocked, and seen him, say,
      His daughter, at Dhamaser Ghat,
    Shell-bracelets bought from thee to-day,
      And he must pay so much for that.
    Be sure, he will not let thee pass
      Without the value, and a meal.
    If he demur, or cry alas!
      No money hath he--then reveal,

    Within the small box, marked with streaks
      Of bright vermilion, by the shrine,
    The key whereof has lain for weeks
      Untouched, he'll find some coin--'tis mine.
    That will enable him to pay
      The bracelet's price, now fare thee well!"
    She spoke, the pedler went away,
      Charmed with her voice, as by some spell;
    While she left lonely there, prepared
      To plunge into the water pure,
    And like a rose her beauty bared,
      From all observance quite secure.

    Not weak she seemed, nor delicate,
      Strong was each limb of flexile grace,
    And full the bust; the mien elate,
      Like hers, the goddess of the chase
    On Latmos hill--and oh, the face
      Framed in its cloud of floating hair,
    No painter's hand might hope to trace
      The beauty and the glory there!
    Well might the pedler look with awe,
      For though her eyes were soft, a ray
    Lit them at times, which kings who saw
      Would never dare to disobey.

    Onwards through groves the pedler sped
      Till full in front the sunlit spire
    Arose before him. Paths which led
      To gardens trim in gay attire
    Lay all around. And lo! the manse,
      Humble but neat with open door!
    He paused, and blest the lucky chance
      That brought his bark to such a shore.
    Huge straw ricks, log huts full of grain,
      Sleek cattle, flowers, a tinkling bell,
    Spoke in a language sweet and plain,
      "Here smiling Peace and Plenty dwell."

    Unconsciously he raised his cry,
      "Shell-bracelets ho!" And at his voice
    Looked out the priest, with eager eye,
      And made his heart at once rejoice.
    "Ho, _Sankha_ pedler! Pass not by,
      But step thou in, and share the food
    Just offered on our altar high,
      If thou art in a hungry mood.
    Welcome are all to this repast!
      The rich and poor, the high and low!
    Come, wash thy feet, and break thy fast,
      Then on thy journey strengthened go."

    "Oh thanks, good priest! Observance due
      And greetings! May thy name be blest!
    I came on business, but I knew,
      Here might be had both food and rest
    Without a charge; for all the poor
      Ten miles around thy sacred shrine
    Know that thou keepest open door,
      And praise that generous hand of thine:
    But let my errand first be told,
      For bracelets sold to thine this day,
    So much thou owest me in gold,
      Hast thou the ready cash to pay?

    The bracelets were enamelled--so
      The price is high."--"How! Sold to mine?
    Who bought them, I should like to know."
      "Thy daughter, with the large black eyne,
    Now bathing at the marble ghat."
      Loud laughed the priest at this reply,
    "I shall not put up, friend, with that;
      No daughter in the world have I,
    An only son is all my stay;
      Some minx has played a trick, no doubt,
    But cheer up, let thy heart be gay.
      Be sure that I shall find her out."

    "Nay, nay, good father, such a face
      Could not deceive, I must aver;
    At all events, she knows thy place,
      'And if my father should demur
    To pay thee'--thus she said--'or cry
      He has no money, tell him straight
    The box vermilion-streaked to try,
      That's near the shrine,'" "Well, wait, friend, wait!"
    The priest said thoughtful, and he ran
      And with the open box came back,
    "Here is the price exact, my man,
      No surplus over, and no lack.

    How strange! how strange! Oh blest art thou
      To have beheld her, touched her hand,
    Before whom Vishnu's self must bow,
      And Brahma and his heavenly band!
    Here have I worshipped her for years
      And never seen the vision bright;
    Vigils and fasts and secret tears
      Have almost quenched my outward sight;
    And yet that dazzling form and face
      I have not seen, and thou, dear friend,
    To thee, unsought for, comes the grace,
      What may its purport be, and end?

    How strange! How strange! Oh happy thou!
      And couldst thou ask no other boon
    Than thy poor bracelet's price? That brow
      Resplendent as the autumn moon
    Must have bewildered thee, I trow,
      And made thee lose thy senses all."
    A dim light on the pedler now
      Began to dawn; and he let fall
    His bracelet basket in his haste,
      And backward ran the way he came;
    What meant the vision fair and chaste,
      Whose eyes were they--those eyes of flame?

    Swift ran the pedler as a hind,
      The old priest followed on his trace,
    They reached the Ghat but could not find
      The lady of the noble face.
    The birds were silent in the wood,
      The lotus flowers exhaled a smell
    Faint, over all the solitude,
      A heron as a sentinel
    Stood by the bank. They called--in vain,
      No answer came from hill or fell,
    The landscape lay in slumber's chain,
      E'en Echo slept within her cell.

    Broad sunshine, yet a hush profound!
      They turned with saddened hearts to go;
    Then from afar there came a sound
      Of silver bells;--the priest said low,
    "O Mother, Mother, deign to hear,
      The worship-hour has rung; we wait
    In meek humility and fear.
      Must we return home desolate?
    Oh come, as late thou cam'st unsought,
      Or was it but an idle dream?
    Give us some sign if it was not,
      A word, a breath, or passing gleam."

    Sudden from out the water sprung
      A rounded arm, on which they saw
    As high the lotus buds among
      It rose, the bracelet white, with awe.
    Then a wide ripple tost and swung
      The blossoms on that liquid plain,
    And lo! the arm so fair and young
      Sank in the waters down again.
    They bowed before the mystic Power,
      And as they home returned in thought,
    Each took from thence a lotus flower
      In memory of the day and spot.

    Years, centuries, have passed away,
      And still before the temple shrine
    Descendants of the pedler pay
      Shell-bracelets of the old design
    As annual tribute. Much they own
      In lands and gold--but they confess
    From that eventful day alone
      Dawned on their industry--success.
    Absurd may be the tale I tell,
      Ill-suited to the marching times,
    I loved the lips from which it fell,
      So let it stand among my rhymes.


    "Ho! Master of the wondrous art!
    Instruct me in fair archery,
    And buy for aye--a grateful heart
    That will not grudge to give thy fee."
    Thus spoke a lad with kindling eyes,
    A hunter's lowborn son was he--
    To Dronacharjya, great and wise,
    Who sat with princes round his knee.

    Up Time's fair stream far back--oh far,
    The great wise teacher must be sought!
    The Kurus had not yet in war
    With the Pandava brethren fought.
    In peace, at Dronacharjya's feet,
    Magic and archery they learned,
    A complex science, which we meet
    No more, with ages past inurned.

    "And who art thou," the teacher said,
    "My science brave to learn so fain?
    Which many kings who wear the thread
    Have asked to learn of me in vain."
    "My name is Buttoo," said the youth,
    "A hunter's son, I know not Fear;"
    The teacher answered, smiling smooth,
    "Then know him from this time, my dear."

    Unseen the magic arrow came,
    Amidst the laughter and the scorn
    Of royal youths--like lightning flame
    Sudden and sharp. They blew the horn,
    As down upon the ground he fell,
    Not hurt, but made a jest and game;--
    He rose--and waved a proud farewell,
    But cheek and brow grew red with shame.

    And lo--a single, single tear
    Dropped from his eyelash as he past,
    "My place I gather is not here;
    No matter--what is rank or caste?
    In us is honor, or disgrace,
    Not out of us," 'twas thus he mused,
    "The question is--not wealth or place,
    But gifts well used, or gifts abused."

    "And I shall do my best to gain
    The science that man will not teach,
    For life is as a shadow vain,
    Until the utmost goal we reach
    To which the soul points. I shall try
    To realize my waking dream,
    And what if I should chance to die?
    None miss one bubble from a stream."

    So thinking, on and on he went,
    Till he attained the forest's verge,
    The garish day was well-nigh spent,
    Birds had already raised its dirge.
    Oh what a scene! How sweet and calm!
    It soothed at once his wounded pride,
    And on his spirit shed a balm
    That all its yearnings purified.

    What glorious trees! The sombre saul
    On which the eye delights to rest,
    The betel-nut--a pillar tall,
    With feathery branches for a crest,
    The light-leaved tamarind spreading wide,
    The pale faint-scented bitter neem,
    The seemul, gorgeous as a bride,
    With flowers that have the ruby's gleam,

    The Indian fig's pavilion tent
    In which whole armies might repose,
    With here and there a little rent,
    The sunset's beauty to disclose,
    The bamboo boughs that sway and swing
    'Neath bulbuls as the south wind blows,
    The mango-tope, a close dark ring,
    Home of the rooks and clamorous crows,

    The champac, bok, and South-sea pine,
    The nagessur with pendant flowers
    Like ear-rings--and the forest vine
    That clinging over all, embowers,
    The sirish famed in Sanscrit song
    Which rural maidens love to wear,
    The peepul giant-like and strong,
    The bramble with its matted hair,

    All these, and thousands, thousands more,
    With helmet red, or golden crown,
    Or green tiara, rose before
    The youth in evening's shadows brown.
    He passed into the forest--there
    New sights of wonder met his view,
    A waving Pampas green and fair
    All glistening with the evening dew.

    How vivid was the breast-high grass!
    Here waved in patches, forest corn--
    Here intervened a deep morass--
    Here arid spots of verdure shorn
    Lay open--rock or barren sand--
    And here again the trees arose
    Thick clustering--a glorious band
    Their tops still bright with sunset glows.--

    Stirred in the breeze the crowding boughs,
    And seemed to welcome him with signs,
    Onwards and on--till Buttoo's brows
    Are gemmed with pearls, and day declines.
    Then in a grassy open space
    He sits and leans against a tree,
    To let the wind blow on his face
    And look around him leisurely.

    Herds, and still herds, of timid deer
    Were feeding in the solitude,
    They knew not man, and felt no fear,
    And heeded not his neighborhood,
    Some young ones with large eyes and sweet
    Came close, and rubbed their foreheads smooth
    Against his arms, and licked his feet,
    As if they wished his cares to soothe.

    "They touch me," he exclaimed with joy,
    "They have no pride of caste like men,
    They shrink not from the hunter-boy,
    Should not my home be with them then?
    Here in this forest let me dwell,
    With these companions innocent,
    And learn each science and each spell
    All by myself in banishment.

    A calm, calm life, and it shall be
    Its own exceeding great reward!
    No thoughts to vex in all I see,
    No jeers to bear or disregard;--
    All creatures and inanimate things
    Shall be my tutors; I shall learn
    From beast, and fish, and bird with wings,
    And rock, and stream, and tree, and fern.

    With this resolve, he soon began
    To build a hut, of reeds and leaves,
    And when that needful work was done
    He gathered in his store, the sheaves
    Of forest corn, and all the fruit,
    Date, plum, guava, he could find,
    And every pleasant nut and root
    By Providence for man designed,

    A statue next of earth he made,
    An image of the teacher wise,
    So deft he laid, the light and shade,
    On figure, forehead, face and eyes,
    That any one who chanced to view
    That image tall might soothly swear,
    If he great Dronacharjya knew,
    The teacher in his flesh was there.

    Then at the statue's feet he placed
    A bow, and arrows tipped with steel,
    With wild-flower garlands interlaced,
    And hailed the figure in his zeal
    As Master, and his head he bowed,
    A pupil reverent from that hour
    Of one who late had disallowed
    The claim, in pride of place and power.

    By strained sense, by constant prayer,
    By steadfastness of heart and will,
    By courage to confront and dare,
    All obstacles he conquered still;
    A conscience clear--a ready hand,
    Joined to a meek humility,
    Success must everywhere command,
    How could he fail who had all three!

    And now, by tests assured, he knows
    His own God-gifted wondrous might,
    Nothing to any man he owes,
    Unaided he has won the fight;
    Equal to gods themselves--above
    Wishmo and Drona--for his worth
    His name, he feels, shall be with love
    Reckoned with great names of the earth.

    Yet lacks he not, in reverence
    To Dronacharjya, who declined
    To teach him--nay, with e'en offence
    That well might wound a noble mind,
    Drove him away;--for in his heart
    Meek, placable, and ever kind,
    Resentment had not any part,
    And Malice never was enshrined.

    One evening, on his work intent,
    Alone he practised Archery,
    When lo! the bow proved false and sent
    The arrow from its mark awry;
    Again he tried--and failed again;
    Why was it? Hark!--A wild dog's bark!
    An evil omen:--it was plain
    Some evil on his path hung dark!

    Thus many times he tried and failed,
    And still that lean, persistent dog
    At distance, like some spirit wailed,
    Safe in the cover of a fog.
    His nerves unstrung, with many a shout
    He strove to frighten it away,
    It would not go--but roamed about,
    Howling, as wolves howl for their prey.

    Worried and almost in a rage,
    One magic shaft at last he sent,
    A sample of his science sage,
    To quiet but the noises meant.
    Unerring to its goal it flew,
    No death ensued, no blood was dropped;
    But by the hush the young man knew
    At last that howling noise had stopped.

    It happened on this very day
    That the Pandava princes came
    With all the Kuru princes gay
    To beat the woods and hunt the game.
    Parted from others in the chase,
    Arjuna brave the wild dog found--
    Stuck still the shaft--but not a trace
    Of hurt, though tongue and lip were bound.

    "Wonder of wonders! Didst not thou
    O Dronacharjya, promise me
    Thy crown in time should deck my brow
    And I be first in archery?
    Lo! here, some other thou hast taught
    A magic spell--to all unknown;
    Who has in secret from thee bought
    The knowledge, in this arrow shown!"

    Indignant thus Arjuna spake
    To his great Master when they met--
    "My word, my honor, is at stake,
    Judge not, Arjuna, judge not yet.
    Come, let us see the dog "--and straight
    They followed up the creature's trace.
    They found it, in the self-same state,
    Dumb, yet unhurt--near Buttoo's place.

    A hut--_a_ statue--and a youth
    In the dim forest--what mean these?
    They gazed in wonder, for in sooth
    The thing seemed full of mysteries.
    "Now who art thou that dar'st to raise
    Mine image in the wilderness?
    Is it for worship and for praise?
    What is thine object? speak, confess,"

    "Oh Master, unto thee I came
    To learn thy science. Name or pelf
    I had not, so was driven with shame,
    And here I learn all by myself.
    But still as Master thee revere,
    For who so great in archery!
    Lo, all my inspiration here,
    And all my knowledge is from thee."

    "If I am Master, now thou hast
    Finished thy course, give me my due.
    Let all the past, be dead and past,
    Henceforth be ties between us new."
    "All that I have, O Master mine,
    All I shall conquer by my skill,
    Gladly shall I to thee resign,
    Let me but know thy gracious will,"

    "Is it a promise?" "Yea, I swear
    So long as I have breath and life
    To give thee all thou wilt," "Beware!
    Rash promise ever ends in strife."
    "Thou art my Master--ask! oh ask!
    From thee my inspiration came,
    Thou canst not set too hard a task,
    Nor aught refuse I, free from blame."

    "If it be so--Arjuna hear!"
    Arjuna and the youth were dumb,
    "For thy sake, loud I ask and clear,
    Give me, O youth, thy right-hand thumb.
    I promised in my faithfulness
    No equal ever shall there be
    To thee, Arjuna--and I press
    For this sad recompense--for thee."

    Glanced the sharp knife one moment high,
    The severed thumb was on the sod,
    There was no tear in Buttoo's eye,
    He left the matter with his God.
    "For this"--said Dronacharjya--"Fame
    Shall sound thy praise from sea to sea,
    And men shall ever link thy name
    With Self-help, Truth, and Modesty."



    Deep in the forest shades there dwelt
      A _Muni_ and his wife,
    Blind, gray-haired, weak, they hourly felt
      Their slender hold on life.

    No friends had they, no help or stay,
      Except an only boy,
    A bright-eyed child, his laughter gay,
      Their leaf-hut filled with joy.

    Attentive, duteous, loving, kind,
      Thoughtful, sedate, and calm,
    He waited on his parents blind,
      Whose days were like a psalm.

    He roamed the woods for luscious fruits,
      He brought them water pure,
    He cooked their simple mess of roots,
      Content to live obscure.

    To fretful questions, answers mild
      He meekly ever gave,
    If they reproved, he only smiled,
      He loved to be their slave.

    Not that to him they were austere,
      But age is peevish still,
    Dear to their hearts he was--so dear,
      That none his place might fill.
    They called him Sindhu, and his name
      Was ever on their tongue,
    And he, nor cared for wealth nor fame,
      Who dwelt his own among.

    A belt of _Bela_-trees hemmed round
      The cottage small and rude,
    If peace on earth was ever found
      'Twas in that solitude.


    Great Dasarath, the King of Oudh,
      Whom all men love and fear,
    With elephants and horses proud
      Went forth to hunt the deer.

    O gallant was the long array!
      Pennons and plumes were seen,
    And swords that mirrored back the day,
      And spears and axes keen.

    Rang trump, and conch, and piercing fife,
      Woke Echo from her bed!
    The solemn woods with sounds were rife
      As on the pageant sped.

    Hundreds, nay thousands, on they went!
      The wild beasts fled away!
    Deer ran in herds, and wild boars spent
      Became an easy prey.

    Whirring the peacocks from the brake
      With Argus wings arose,
    Wild swans abandoned pool and lake
      For climes beyond the snows.

    From tree to tree the monkeys sprung,
      Unharmed and unpursued,
    As louder still the trumpets rung
      And startled all the wood.

    The porcupines and such small game
      Unnoted fled at will,
    The weasel only caught to tame
      From fissures in the hill.

    Slunk light the tiger from the bank,
      But sudden turned to bay!
    When he beheld the serried rank
      That barred his tangled way.
    Uprooting fig-trees on their path,
      And trampling shrubs and flowers,
    Wild elephants, in fear and wrath,
      Burst through, like moving towers.

    Lowering their horns in crescents grim
      Whene'er they turned about,
    Retreated into coverts dim
      The bisons' fiercer rout.

    And in this mimic game of war
      In bands dispersed and passed
    The royal train--some near, some far,
      As day closed in at last.

    Where was the king? He left his friends
      At mid-day, it was known,
    And now that evening fast descends
      Where was he? All alone.

    Curving, the river formed a lake,
      Upon whose bank he stood, I
    No noise the silence there to break,
      Or mar the solitude.

    Upon the glassy surface fell
      The last beams of the day,
    Like fiery darts, that lengthening swell,
      As breezes wake and play.

    Osiers and willows on the edge
      And purple buds and red,
    Leant down--and 'mid the pale green sedge
      The lotus raised its head.

    And softly, softly, hour by hour
      Light faded, and a veil
    Fell over tree, and wave, and flower,
      On came the twilight pale.

    Deeper and deeper grew the shades,
      Stars glimmered in the sky,
    The nightingale along the glades
      Raised her preluding cry.
    What is that momentary flash?
      A gleam of silver scales
    Reveals the _Mahseer_;--then a splash,
      And calm again prevails.

    As darkness settled like a pall
      The eye would pierce in vain,
    The fireflies gemmed the bushes all,
      Like fiery drops of rain.

    Pleased with the scene--and knowing not
      Which way, alas! to go,
    The monarch lingered on the spot--
      The lake spread bright below.

    He lingered, when--oh hark! oh hark
      What sound salutes his ear!
    A roebuck drinking in the dark,
      Not hunted, nor in fear.

    Straight to the stretch his bow he drew,
      That bow ne'er missed its aim,
    Whizzing the deadly arrow flew,
      Ear-guided, on the game!

    Ah me! What means this?--Hark, a cry,
      A feeble human wail,
    "Oh God!" it said--"I die--I die,
      Who'll carry home the pail?"

    Startled, the monarch forward ran,
      And then there met his view
    A sight to freeze in any man
      The warm blood coursing true.

    A child lay dying on the grass,
      A pitcher by his side,
    Poor Sindhu was the child, alas!
      His parents' stay and pride.

    His bow and quiver down to fling,
      And lift the wounded boy,
    A moment's work was with the king.
      Not dead--that was a joy!
    He placed the child's head on his lap,
      And 'ranged the blinding hair,
    The blood welled fearful from the gap
      On neck and bosom fair.

    He dashed cold water on the face,
      He chafed the hands, with sighs,
    Till sense revived, and he could trace
      Expression in the eyes.

    Then mingled with his pity, fear--
      In all this universe
    What is so dreadful as to hear
      A Brahman's dying curse!

    So thought the king, and on his brow
      The beads of anguish spread,
    And Sindhu, fully conscious now,
      The anguish plainly read.

    "What dost thou fear, O mighty king?
      For sure a king thou art!
    Why should thy bosom anguish wring?
      No crime was in thine heart!

    Unwittingly the deed was done;
      It is my destiny,
    O fear not thou, but pity one
      Whose fate is thus to die.

    No curses, no!--I bear no grudge,
      Not thou my blood hast spilt,
    Lo! here before the unseen Judge,
      Thee I absolve from guilt.

    The iron, red-hot as it burns,
      Burns those that touch it too,
    Not such my nature--for it spurns,
      Thank God, the like to do.

    Because I suffer, should I give
      Thee, king, a needless pain?
    Ah, no! I die, but may'st thou live,
      And cleansed from every stain!"
    Struck with these words, and doubly grieved
      At what his hands had done,
    The monarch wept, as weeps bereaved
      A man his only son.

    "Nay, weep not so," resumed the child,
      "But rather let me say
    My own sad story, sin-defiled,
      And why I die to-day!

    Picking a living in our sheaves,
      And happy in their loves,
    Near, 'mid a peepul's quivering leaves,
      There lived a pair of doves.

    Never were they two separate,
      And lo, in idle mood,
    I took a sling and ball, elate
      In wicked sport and rude--

    And killed one bird--it was the male,
      Oh cruel deed and base!
    The female gave a plaintive wail
      And looked me in the face!

    The wail and sad reproachful look
      In plain words seemed to say,
    A widowed life I cannot brook,
      The forfeit thou must pay.

    What was my darling's crime that thou
      Him wantonly shouldst kill?
    The curse of blood is on thee now,
      Blood calls for red blood still.

    And so I die--a bloody death--
      But not for this I mourn,
    To feel the world pass with my breath
      I gladly could have borne,

    But for my parents, who are blind,
      And have no other stay--
    This, this, weighs sore upon my mind,
      And fills me with dismay.

    Upon the eleventh day of the moon
      They keep a rigorous fast,
    All yesterday they fasted; soon
      For water and repast

    They shall upon me feebly call!
      Ah, must they call in vain?
    Bear thou the pitcher, friend--'tis all
      I ask--down that steep lane."

    He pointed--ceased--then sudden died!
      The king took up the corpse,
    And with the pitcher slowly hied,
      Attended by Remorse,

    Down the steep lane--unto the hut
      Girt round with _Bela_-trees;
    Gleamed far a light--the door not shut
      Was open to the breeze.


    "Oh why does not our child return?
      Too long he surely stays."--
    Thus to the _Muni_, blind and stern,
      His partner gently says.

    "For fruits and water when he goes
      He never stays so long,
    Oh can it be, beset by foes,
      He suffers cruel wrong?

    Some distance he has gone, I fear,
      A more circuitous round--
    Yet why should he? The fruits are near,
      The river near our bound.

    I die of thirst--it matters not
      If Sindhu be but safe,
    What if he leave us, and this spot,
      Poor birds in cages chafe.

    Peevish and fretful oft we are--
      Ah, no--that cannot be:
    Of our blind eyes he is the star,
      Without him, what were we?

    Too much he loves us to forsake,
      But something ominous,
    Here in my heart, a dreadful ache,
      Says, he is gone from us.

    Why do my bowels for him yearn,
      What ill has crossed his path?
    Blind, helpless, whither shall we turn,
      Or how avert the wrath?

    Lord of my soul--what means my pain?
      This horrid terror--like
    Some cloud that hides a hurricane;
      Hang not, O lightning--strike!"

    Thus while she spake, the king drew near
      With haggard look and wild,
    Weighed down with grief, and pale with fear,
      Bearing the lifeless child.

    Rustled the dry leaves 'neath his foot,
      And made an eerie sound,
    A neighboring owl began to hoot,
      All else was still around.

    At the first rustle of the leaves
      The _Muni_ answered clear,
    "Lo, here he is--oh wherefore grieves
      Thy soul, my partner dear?"

    The words distinct, the monarch heard,
      He could no further go,
    His nature to its depths was stirred,
      He stopped in speechless woe.

    No steps advanced--the sudden pause
      Attention quickly drew,
    Rolled sightless orbs to learn the cause,
      But, hark!--the steps renew.

    "Where art thou, darling--why so long
      Hast thou delayed to-night?
    We die of thirst--we are not strong,
      This fasting kills outright.

    Speak to us, dear one--only speak,
      And calm our idle fears,
    Where hast thou been, and what to seek?
      Have pity on these tears."

    With head bent low the monarch heard,
      Then came a cruel throb
    That tore his heart--still not a word,
      Only a stifled sob!

    "It is not Sindhu--who art thou?
      And where is Sindhu gone?
    There's blood upon thy hands--avow!"
      "There is."--"Speak on, speak on,"

    The dead child in their arms he placed,
      And briefly told his tale,
    The parents their dead child embraced,
      And kissed his forehead pale.

    "Our hearts are broken. Come, dear wife,
      On earth no more we dwell;
    Now welcome Death, and farewell Life,
      And thou, O king, farewell!

    We do not curse thee, God forbid
      But to my inner eye
    The future is no longer hid,
      Thou too shalt like us die.

    Die--for a son's untimely loss!
      Die--with a broken heart!
    Now help us to our bed of moss,
      And let us both depart."

    Upon the moss he laid them down,
      And watched beside the bed;
    Death gently came and placed a crown
      Upon each reverend head.

    Where the Sarayu's waves dash free
      Against a rocky bank,
    The monarch had the corpses three
      Conveyed by men of rank;

    There honored he with royal pomp
      Their funeral obsequies--
    Incense and sandal, drum and tromp.
      And solemn sacrifice.

    What is the sequel of the tale?
      How died the king?--Oh man,
    A prophet's words can never fail--
      Go, read the Ramayan.



    Near Hastings, on the shingle-beach,
      We loitered at the time
    When ripens on the wall the peach,
      The autumn's lovely prime.
    Far off--the sea and sky seemed blent,
      The day was wholly done,
    The distant town its murmurs sent,
      Strangers--we were alone.

    We wandered slow; sick, weary, faint,
      Then one of us sat down,
    No nature hers, to make complaint;--
      The shadows deepened brown.
    A lady past--she was not young,
      But oh! her gentle face
    No painter-poet ever sung,
      Or saw such saintlike grace.

    She passed us--then she came again,
      Observing at a glance
    That we were strangers; one, in pain--
      Then asked--Were we from France?
    We talked awhile--some roses red
      That seemed as wet with tears,
    She gave my sister, and she said,
      God bless you both, my dears!"

    Sweet were the roses--sweet and full,
      And large as lotus flowers
    That in our own wide tanks we cull
      To deck our Indian bowers.
    But sweeter was the love that gave
      Those flowers to one unknown,
    I think that He who came to save
      The gift a debt will own.

    The lady's name I do not know,
      Her face no more may see,
    But yet, oh yet I love her so!
      Blest, happy, may she be!
    Her memory will not depart,
      Though grief my years should shade,
    Still bloom her roses in my heart!
      And they shall never fade!



    Not dead--oh no--she cannot die!
      Only a swoon, from loss of blood!
    Levite England passes her by,
    Help, Samaritan! None is nigh;
      Who shall staunch me this sanguine flood?

    'Range the brown hair, it blinds her eyne,
      Dash cold water over her face!
    Drowned in her blood, she makes no sign,
    Give her a draught of generous wine.
      None heed, none hear, to do this grace.

    Head of the human column, thus
      Ever in swoon wilt thou remain?
    Thought, Freedom, Truth, quenched ominous
    Whence then shall Hope arise for us,
      Plunged in the darkness all again.

    No, she stirs!--There's a fire in her glance,
      Ware, oh ware of that broken sword!
    What, dare ye for an hour's mischance,
    Gather around her, jeering France,
      Attila's own exultant horde?

    Lo, she stands up--stands up e'en now,
      Strong once more for the battle-fray,
    Gleams bright the star, that from her brow
    Lightens the world. Bow, nations, bow,
      Let her again lead on the way!


    Broad daylight, with a sense of weariness!
    Mine eyes were closed, but I was not asleep,
    My hand was in my father's, and I felt
    His presence near me. Thus we often passed
    In silence, hour by hour. What was the need
    Of interchanging words when every thought
    That in our hearts arose, was known to each,
    And every pulse kept time? Suddenly there shone
    A strange light, and the scene as sudden changed.
    I was awake:--It was an open plain
    Illimitable--stretching, stretching--oh, so far!
    And o'er it that strange light--a glorious light
    Like that the stars shed over fields of snow
    In a clear, cloudless, frosty winter night,
    Only intenser in its brilliance calm.
    And in the midst of that vast plain, I saw,
    For I was wide awake--it was no dream,
    A tree with spreading branches and with leaves
    Of divers kinds--dead silver and live gold,
    Shimmering in radiance that no words may tell!
    Beside the tree an Angel stood; he plucked
    A few small sprays, and bound them round my head.
    Oh, the delicious touch of those strange leaves!
    No longer throbbed my brows, no more I felt
    The fever in my limbs--"And oh," I cried,
    "Bind too my father's forehead with these leaves."
    One leaf the Angel took and therewith touched
    His forehead, and then gently whispered "Nay!"
    Never, oh never had I seen a face
    More beautiful than that Angel's, or more full
    Of holy pity and of love divine.
    Wondering I looked awhile--then, all at once
    Opened my tear-dimmed eyes--When lo! the light
    Was gone--the light as of the stars when snow
    Lies deep upon the ground. No more, no more,
    Was seen the Angel's face. I only found
    My father watching patient by my bed,
    And holding in his own, close-prest, my hand.


_Written on the fly-leaf of Erckmann-Chatrian's novel, entitled, "Madame

    Wavered the foremost soldiers--then fell back.
    Fallen was their leader, and loomed right before
    The sullen Prussian cannon, grim and black,
    With lighted matches waving. Now, once more,
    Patriots and veterans!--Ah! Tis in vain!
    Back they recoil, though bravest of the brave;
    No human troops may stand that murderous rain;
    But who is this--that rushes to a grave?

    It is a woman--slender, tall, and brown!
    She snatches up the standard as it falls--
    In her hot haste tumbles her dark hair down,
    And to the drummer-boy aloud she calls
    To beat the charge; then forwards on the _pont_
    They dash together;--who could bear to see
    A woman and a child, thus Death confront,
    Nor burn to follow them to victory?

    I read the story and my heart beats fast!
    Well might all Europe quail before thee, France,
    Battling against oppression! Years have passed,
    Yet of that time men speak with moistened glance.
    _Va-nu-pieds!_ When rose high your Marseillaise
    Man knew his rights to earth's remotest bound,
    And tyrants trembled. Yours alone the praise!
    Ah, had a Washington but then been found!


    A sea of foliage girds our garden round,
      But not a sea of dull unvaried green,
      Sharp contrasts of all colors here are seen;
    The light-green graceful tamarinds abound
    Amid the mango clumps of green profound,
      And palms arise, like pillars gray, between;
      And o'er the quiet pools the seemuls lean,
    Red--red, and startling like a trumpet's sound.
    But nothing can be lovelier than the ranges
      Of bamboos to the eastward, when the moon
    Looks through their gaps, and the white lotus changes
      Into a cup of silver. One might swoon
        Drunken with beauty then, or gaze and gaze
        On a primeval Eden, in amaze.


    Love came to Flora asking for a flower
      That would of flowers be undisputed queen,
      The lily and the rose, long, long had been
    Rivals for that high honor. Bards of power
    Had sung their claims. "The rose can never tower
      Like the pale lily with her Juno mien"--
      "But is the lily lovelier?" Thus between
    Flower-factions rang the strife in Psyche's bower.
    "Give me a flower delicious as the rose
      And stately as the lily in her pride"--
      "But of what color?"--"Rose-red," Love first chose,
      Then prayed--"No, lily-white--or, both provide;"
      And Flora gave the lotus, "rose-red" dyed,
    And "lily-white"--the queenliest flower that blows.


    Like a huge Python, winding round and round
      The rugged trunk, indented deep with scars
      Up to its very summit near the stars,
    A creeper climbs, in whose embraces bound
      No other tree could live. But gallantly
    The giant wears the scarf, and flowers are hung
    In crimson clusters all the boughs among,
      Whereon all day are gathered bird and bee;
    And oft at nights the garden overflows
    With one sweet song that seems to have no close,
    Sung darkling from our tree, while men repose,

    When first my casement is wide open thrown
      At dawn, my eyes delighted on it rest;
      Sometimes, and most in winter--on its crest
    A gray baboon sits statue-like alone
      Watching the sunrise; while on lower boughs
    His puny offspring leap about and play;
    And far and near kokilas hail the day;
      And to their pastures wend our sleepy cows;
    And in the shadow, on the broad tank cast
    By that hoar tree, so beautiful and vast,
    The water-lilies spring, like snow enmassed.

    But not because of its magnificence
      Dear is the Casuarina to my soul:
      Beneath it we have played; though years may roll,
    O sweet companions, loved with love intense,
      For your sakes, shall the tree be ever dear!
    Blent with your images, it shall arise
    In memory, till the hot tears blind mine eyes!
      What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear
    Like the sea breaking on a shingle-beach?
    It is the tree's lament, an eerie speech,
    That haply to the unknown land may reach.

    Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of faith!
      Ah, I have heard that wail far, far away
      In distant lands, by many a sheltered bay,
    When slumbered in his cave the water-wraith
      And the waves gently kissed the classic shore
    Of France or Italy, beneath the moon,
    When earth lay tranced in a dreamless swoon:
      And every time the music rose--before
    Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,
    Thy form, O Tree, as in my happy prime
    I saw thee, in my own loved native clime.

    Therefore I fain would consecrate a lay
      Unto thy honor, Tree, beloved of those
      Who now in blessed sleep, for aye, repose,
    Dearer than life to me, alas! were they!
      May'st thou be numbered when my days are done
    With deathless trees--like those in Borrowdale,
    Under whose awful branches lingered pale
      "Fear, trembling Hope, and Death, the skeleton,
    And Time, the shadow;" and though weak the verse
    That would thy beauty fain, oh fain rehearse,
    May Love defend thee from Oblivion's curse.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hindu literature : Comprising The Book of good counsels, Nala and Damayanti, The Ramayana, and Sakoontala" ***

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