The Epic of Rama, Prince of India
Book X. Yuddha
(The War in Ceylon)
The town of Lanka, the capital of Ceylon, was invested, and the war which followed was a succession of sallies by the great leaders and princes of Lanka. But almost every sally was repulsed, every chief was killed, and at last Ravan himself who made the last sally was slain and the war ended.
Among the numberless fights described in the original work, those of Ravan himself, his brother Kumbha-karna, and his son Indrajit, are the most important, and oftenest recited and listened to in India: and these have been rendered into English in this Book. And the reader will mark a certain method in the poet’s estimate of the warriors who took part in these battles.
First and greatest among the warriors was Rama; he was never beaten by an open foe, never conquered in fair fight. Next to him, and to him only, was Ravan the monarch of Lanka; he twice defeated Lakshman in battle, and never retreated except before Rama. Next to Rama and to Ravan stood their brothers, Lakshman and Kumbha-karna; it is difficult to say who was the best of these two, for they fought only once, and it was a drawn battle. Fifth in order of prowess was Indrajit the son of Ravan, but he was the first in his magic art. Concealed in mists by his magic, he twice defeated both Rama and Lakshman; but in his last battle he had to wage a face to face combat with Lakshman, and was
The war ended with the fall of Ravan and his funerals.
The portions translated in this Book form the whole or portions of Sections xliv., xlviii., lix., lxvi., lxvii., and lxxiii., an abstract of Sections lxxv. to xci., and portions of Sections xciii., xcvi., ci., cii., ciii., cix., cx., and cxiii. of Book vi. of the original text.
I. Indrajit’s First Battle – The Serpent-Noose
Darkly round the leaguered city Rama’s countless forces lay,
Far as Ravan cast his glances in the dawning light of day,
Wrath and anguish shook his bosom and the gates he opened wide,
And with ranks of charging Rakshas sallied with a Raksha’s pride!
All the day the battle lasted, endless were the tale to tell,
What unnumbered Vanars perished and what countless Rakshas fell,
Darkness came, the fiery foemen urged the still unceasing fight,
Struggling with a deathless hatred fiercer in the gloom of night!
Onward came resistless Rakshas, laid Sugriva’s forces low,
Crushed the broken ranks of Vanars, drank the red blood of the foe,
Bravely fought the scattered Vanars facing still the tide of war,
Struggling with the charging tusker and the steed and battle car,
Till at last the gallant Lakshman and the godlike Rama came,
And they swept the hosts of Ravan like a sweeping forest flame,
And their shafts like hissing serpents on the falt’ring foemen fell,
Fiercer grew the sable midnight with the dying shriek and yell!
From the hoofs of charging coursers, from the elephants of war,
Streams of red blood warm and bubbling issued from the countless slain,
Flooded battle’s dark arena like the floods of summer rain,
Sound of trumpet and of bugle, drum and horn and echoing shell,
And the neigh of charging coursers and the tuskers’ dying wail,
And the yell of wounded Rakshas and the Vanars’ fierce delight,
Shook the earth and sounding welkin, waked the echoes of the night!
Six bright arrows Rama thundered from his weapon dark and dread,
Iron-toothed Vajra-danshtra and his fainting comrades fled,
Dauntless still the serried Rakshas, wave on wave succeeding came,
Perished under Rama’s arrows as the moths upon the flame!
Indrajit the son of Ravan, Lanka’s glory and her pride,
Matchless in his magic weapons came and turned battle’s tide,
What though Angad in his fury had his steeds and driver slayed,
Indrajit hid in the midnight battled from its friendly shade,
Shrouded in a cloud of darkness still he poured his darts like rain,
On young Lakshman and on Rama and on countless Vanars slain,
Matchless in his magic weapons, then he hurled his Naga-dart,
Serpent noose upon his foemen draining life blood from their heart!
Vainly then the royal brothers fought the cloud-enshrouded foe,
Vainly sought the unseen warrior dealing unresisted blow,
Fastened by a noose of Naga forced by hidden foe to yield,
Rama and the powerless Lakshman fell and fainted on the field!
II. Sita’s Lament
Spake of midnight’s darksome contest, Rama’s death and Lakshman’s fall,
And the proud and peerless Ravan clasped his brave and gallant son,
Praised him for his skill and valour and his deed of glory done,
And with dark and cruel purpose bade his henchmen yoke his car,
Bade them take the sorrowing Sita to the gory field of war!
Soon they harnessed royal coursers and they took the weeping wife,
Where her Rama, pierced and bleeding, seemed bereft of sense and life,
Brother lay beside his brother with their shattered mail and bow,
Arrows thick and dark with red blood spake the conquest of the foe,
Anguish woke in Sita’s bosom and a dimness filled her eye,
And a widow’s nameless sorrow burst in widow’s mournful cry:
“Rama, lord and king and husband! didst thou cross the billowy sea,
Didst thou challenge death and danger, court thy fate to rescue me,
Didst thou hurl a fitting vengeance on the cruel Raksha force,
Till the hand of hidden foeman checked thy all-resistless course?
Breathes upon the earth no warrior who could face thee in the fight,
Who could live to boast his triumph o’er thy world-subduing might,
But the will of Fate is changeless, Death is mighty in his sway, –
Peerless Rama, faithful Lakshman, sleep the sleep that knows no day!
But I weep not for my Rama nor for Lakshman young and brave,
They have done a warrior’s duty and have found a warrior’s grave,
Child of Earth I seek in suffering bosom of my mother Earth!
But I grieve for dear Kausalya, sonless mother, widowed queen,
How she reckons days and seasons in her anguish ever green,
How she waits with eager longing till her Rama’s exile o’er,
He would soothe her lifelong sorrow, bless her aged eyes once more,
Sita’s love! Ayodhya’s monarch! Queen Kausalya’s dearest born!
Rama soul of truth and virtue sleeps the sleep that knows no morn!”
Sorely wept the sorrowing Sita in her accents soft and low,
And the silent stars of midnight wept to witness Sita’s woe,
But Trijata her companion, – though a Raksha woman she, –
Felt her soul subdued by sadness, spake to Sita tenderly:
“Weep not, sad and saintly Sita, shed not widow’s tears in vain,
For thy lord is sorely wounded, but shall live to fight again,
Rama and the gallant Lakshman, fainting, not bereft of life,
They shall live to fight and conquer, – thou shall be a happy wife.
Mark the Vanars’ marshalled forces, listen to their warlike cries,
’Tis not thus the soldiers gather when a chief and hero dies,
’Tis not thus round lifeless leader muster warriors true and brave,
For when falls the dying helmsman, sinks the vessel in the wave!
Mark the ring of hopeful Vanars, how they watch o’er Rama’s face,
How they guard the younger Lakshman beaming yet with living grace,
Trust me, sad and sorrowing Sita, marks of death these eyes can trace,
Shade of death’s decaying lingers sweeps not o’er thy Rama’s face!
Listen more, my gentle Sita, though a captive in our keep,
For thy woes and for thy anguish see a Raksha woman weep,
Though thy Rama armed in battle is our unrelenting foe,
For a true and stainless warrior see a Raksha filled with woe!
They shall live to fight and conquer, worthy of their gallant race,
Cold nor rigid are their features, darkness dwells not on their brow,
Weep not thus, my gentle Sita, – hasten we to Lanka now.”
And Trijata spake no falsehood, by the winged Garuda’s skill,
Rama and the valiant Lakshman lived to fight their foemen still!
III. Ravan’s First Battle – The Javelin-Stroke
’Gainst the God-assisted Rama, Ravan’s efforts all were vain,
Leaguered Lanka vainly struggled in her adamantine chain,
Wrathful Rakshas with their forces vainly issued through the gate,
Chiefs and serried ranks of warriors met the same resistless fate!
Dark-eyed chief Dhumraksha sallied with the fierce tornado’s shock,
Hanuman of peerless prowess slayed him with a rolling rock,
Iron-toothéd Vajra-danshtra dashed through countless Vanars slain,
But the young and gallant Angad laid him lifeless on the plain,
Akampan unshaken warrior issued out of Lanka’s wall,
Hanuman was true and watchful, speedy was the Raksha’s fall,
Then the mighty-armed Prahasta strove to break the hostile line,
But the gallant Nila felled him as the woodman fells the pine!
Bravest chiefs and countless soldiers sallied forth to face the fight,
Broke not Rama’s iron circle, ’scaped not Rama’s wond’rous might,
Ravan could no longer tarry for his mightiest chiefs were slain,
Foremost leaders, dearest kinsmen, lying on the gory plain!
But the blood of slaughtered kinsmen claims from me a vengeance dire,”
Speaking thus the wrathful Ravan mounted on his thundering car,
Flame-resplendent was the chariot drawn by matchless steeds of war!
Beat of drum and voice of sankha and the Raksha’s battle cry,
Song of triumph, chanted mantra, smote the echoing vault of sky,
And the troops like cloudy masses with their eyes of lightning fire
Girt their monarch, as his legions girdle Rudra in his ire!
Rolled the car with peal of thunder through the city’s lofty gate,
And each fierce and fiery Raksha charged with warrior’s deathless hate,
And the vigour of the onset cleft the stunned, and scattered foe,
As a strong bark cleaves the billows riding on the ocean’s brow!
Brave Sugriva king of Vanars met the foeman fierce and strong,
And a rock with mighty effort on the startled Ravan flung,
Vain the toil, disdainful Ravan dashed aside the flying rock,
Brave Sugriva pierced by arrows fainted neath the furious shock,
Next Susena chief and elder, Nala and Gavaksha bold,
Hurled them on the path of Ravan speeding in his car of gold,
Vainly heaved the rock and missile, vainly did with trees assail,
Onward sped the conquering Ravan, pierced the fainting Vanars fell,
Hanuman the son of Marut next against the Raksha came,
Fierce and strong as stormy Marut, warrior of unrivalled fame,
But the Raksha’s mighty onset gods nor mortals might sustain,
Hanuman in red blood welt’ring rolled upon the gory plain.
Onward rolled the car of Ravan, where the dauntless Nila stood,
Armed with rock and tree and missile, thirsting for the Raksha’s blood,
On the gory field of battle poured the red blood of his heart.
Onward through the scattered forces Ravan’s conquering chariot came,
Where in pride and dauntless valour Lakshman stood of warlike fame,
Calm and proud the gallant Lakshman marked the all-resistless foe,
Boldly challenged Lanka’s monarch as he held aloft his bow:
Welcome, mighty Lord of Lanka! wage with me an equal strife,
Wherefore with thy royal prowess seek the humble Vanars’ life?”
“Hath thy fate,” so answered Ravan, “brought thee to thy deadly foe,
Welcome, valiant son of Raghu! Ravan longs to lay thee low!”
Then they closed in dubious battle, Lanka’s Lord his weapon bent,
Seven bright arrows, keen and whistling, on the gallant Lakshman sent,
Vain the toil, for watchful Lakshman stout of heart and true of aim,
With his darts like shooting sunbeams cleft each arrow as it came.
Bleeding from the darts of Lakshman, pale with anger, wounded sore,
Ravan drew at last his Sakti, gift of Gods in days of yore,
Javelin of flaming splendour, deadly like the shaft of Fate,
Ravan hurled on dauntless Lakshman in his fierce and furious hate.
Vain were Lakshman’s human weapons aimed with skill directed well,
Pierced by Sakti, gallant Lakshman in his red blood fainting fell,
Wrathful Rama saw the combat and arose in godlike might,
Bleeding Ravan turned to Lanka, sought his safety in his flight.
IV. Fall of Kumbha-karna
Safe behind the gates of Lanka humbled Ravan shunned his foes,
Till the stalwart Kumbha-karna from his wonted slumbers woke,
Mightiest he of all the Rakshas: – Ravan thus unto him spoke:
“Thou alone, O Kumbha-karna, can the Raksha’s honour save,
Strongest of the Raksha warriors, stoutest-hearted midst the brave,
Speed thee like the Dread Destroyer to the dark and dubious fray,
Cleave through Rama’s girdling forces, chase the scattered foe away!”
Like a mountain’s beetling turret Kumbha-karna stout and tall,
Passed the city’s lofty portals and the city’s girdling wall,
And he raised his voice in battle, sent his cry from shore to shore,
Solid mountains shook and trembled and the sea returned the roar!
Indra nor the great Varuna equalled Kumbha-karna’s might,
Vanars trembled at the warrior, sought their safety in their flight,
But the prince of fair Kishkindha, Angad chief of warlike fame,
Marked his panic-stricken forces with a princely warrior’s shame,
“Whither fly, ye trembling Vanars?” thus the angry chieftain cried,
“All forgetful of your duty, of your worth and warlike pride,
Deem not stalwart Kumbha-karna is our match in open fight,
Forward let us meet in battle, let us crush his giant might!”
Rallied thus, the broken army stone and tree and massive rock,
Hurled upon the giant Raksha speeding with the lightning’s shock,
On the Raksha’s limbs of iron stone and tree in splinters broke,
Dashing through the scattered forces Kumbha-karna fearless stood,
As a forest conflagration feasts upon the parchéd wood,
Far as confines of the ocean, to the causeway they had made,
To the woods or caves or billows, Vanars in their terror fled!
Hanuman of dauntless valour turned not in his fear nor fled,
Heaved a rock with mighty effort on the Raksha’s towering head,
With his spear-head Kumbha-karna dashed the flying rock aside,
By the Raksha’s weapon stricken Hanuman fell in his pride,
Next Rishabha and brave Nila and the bold Sarabha came,
Gavaksha and Gandha-madan, chieftains of a deathless fame,
But the spear of Kumbha-karna hurled to earth his feeble foes,
Dreadful was the field of carnage, loud the cry of battle rose!
Angad prince of fair Kishkindha, filled with anger and with shame,
Tore a rock with wrathful prowess, to the fatal combat came,
Short the combat, soon the Raksha caught and turned his foe around,
Hurled him in his deathful fury, bleeding, senseless on the ground!
Last, Sugriva king of Vanars with a vengeful anger woke,
Tore a rock from bed of mountain and in proud defiance spoke,
Vain Sugriva’s toil and struggle, Kumbha-karna hurled a rock,
Fell Sugriva crushed and senseless ’neath the missile’s mighty shock!
Piercing through the Vanar forces, like a flame through forest wood,
Came the Raksha where in glory Lakshman calm and fearless stood,
Short their contest, – Kumbha-karna sought a greater, mightier foe,
To the young and dauntless Lakshman spake in accents soft and low:
“Dauntless prince and matchless warrior, fair Sumitra’s gallant son,
Thou hast proved unrivalled prowess and unending glory won,
I would fight the royal Rama, or to die or slay my foe!”
“Victor proud!” said gallant Lakshman, “peerless in thy giant might,
Conqueror of great Immortals, Lakshman owns thy skill in fight,
Mightier foe than bright Immortals thou shalt meet in fatal war,
Death for thee in guise of Rama tarries yonder, not afar!”
Ill it fared with Kumbha-karna when he strove with Rama’s might,
Men on earth nor Gods immortal conquered Rama in the fight,
Deadly arrows keen and flaming from the hero’s weapon broke,
Kumbha-karna faint and bleeding felt his death at every stroke,
Last, an arrow pierced his armour, from his shoulders smote his head,
Kumbha-karna, lifeless, headless, rolled upon the gory bed,
Hurled unto the heaving ocean Kumbha-karna’s body fell,
And as shaken by a tempest, mighty was the ocean’s swell!
V. Indrajit’s Sacrifice and Second Battle
Still around beleaguered Lanka girdled Rama’s living chain,
Raksha chieftain after chieftain strove to break the line in vain,
Sons of Ravan, – brave Narantak was by valiant Angad slain,
Trisiras and fierce Devantak, Hanuman slew on the plain,
Atikaya, tall of stature, was by gallant Lakshman killed,
Ravan wept for slaughtered princes, brave in war in weapons skilled,
“Shed no tears of sorrow, father!” Indrajit exclaimed in pride,
“While thy eldest son surviveth triumph dwells on Ravan’s side,
Rama and that stripling Lakshman, I had left them in their gore,
Once again I seek their lifeblood, – they shall live to fight no more,
Rama’s days and gallant Lakshman’s on this wide earth shall be done,
Witness Indra and Vivaswat, Vishnu great and Rudra dire,
Witness Sun and Moon and Sadhyas, and the living God of Fire!”
Opened wide the gates of Lanka: in the spacious field of war,
Indrajit arranged his army, foot and horse and battle car,
Then with gifts and sacred mantras bent before the God of Fire,
And invoked celestial succour in the battle dread and dire,
With his offerings and his garlands, Indrajit with spices rare,
Worshipped holy Vaiswa-nara on the altar bright and fair,
Spear and mace were ranged in order, dart and bow and shining blade,
Sacred fuel, blood-red garments, fragrant flowers were duly laid,
Head of goat as black as midnight offered then the warrior brave,
And the shooting tongue of red fire omens of a conquest gave,
Curling to the right and smokeless, red and bright as molten gold,
Tongue of flame received the offering of the hero true and bold!
Victory the sign betokens! Bow and dart and shining blade,
Sanctified by holy mantras, by the Fire the warrior laid,
Then with weapons consecrated, hid in mists as once before,
Indrajit on helpless foemen did his fatal arrows pour!
Fled the countless Vanar forces, panic-stricken, crushed and slain,
And the dead and dying warriors strewed the gory battle plain,
Then on Rama, and on Lakshman, from his dark and misty shroud
Indrajit discharged his arrows bright as sunbeams through a cloud,
Scanning earth and bright sky vainly for his dark and hidden foe,
Rama to his brother Lakshman spake in grief and spake in woe:
“Once again that wily Raksha, slaying all our Vanar train,
From his dark and shadowy shelter doth on us his arrows rain,
Useless is our human weapon ’gainst his gift of magic might,
If Swayambhu wills it, Lakshman, we shall face these fatal darts,
We shall stand with dauntless patience, we shall die with dauntless hearts!”
Weaponless but calm and valiant, from the foeman’s dart and spell
Patiently the princes suffered, fearlessly the heroes fell!
VI. Indrajit’s Third Battle and Fall
Healing herbs from distant mountains Hanuman in safety brought,
Rama rose and gallant Lakshman, once again their foemen sought,
And when night its sable mantle o’er the earth and ocean drew,
Forcing through the gates of Lanka to the frightened city flew!
Gallant sons of Kumbha-karna vainly fought to stem the tide,
Hanuman and brave Sugriva slew the brothers in their pride,
Makaraksha, shark-eyed warrior, vainly struggled with the foe,
Rama laid him pierced and lifeless by an arrow from his bow.
Indrajit arose in anger for his gallant kinsmen slayed,
In his arts and deep devices Sita’s beauteous image made,
And he placed the form of beauty on his speeding battle car,
With his sword he smote the image in the gory field of war!
Rama heard the fatal message which his faithful Vanars gave,
And a deathlike trance and tremor fell upon the warrior brave,
But Bibhishan deep in wisdom to the anguished Rama came,
With his words of consolation spake of Rama’s righteous dame:
Indrajit slays not the woman whom his father seeks as spouse,
’Tis for Sita, impious Ravan meets thee on the battle-field,
Stakes his life and throne and empire, but thy Sita will not yield,
Deem not that the king of Rakshas will permit her blood be shed,
Indrajit slays not the woman whom his father seeks to wed!
’Twas an image of thy Sita, Indrajit hath cleft in twain,
While our army wails and sorrows, – he performs his rites again,
To the holy Nikumbhila, Indrajit in secret hies,
For the rites which yield him prowess, hide him in the cloudy skies.
Let young Lakshman seek the foeman ere his magic rites be done, –
Once the sacrifice completed, none can combat Ravan’s son, –
Let young Lakshman speed through Lanka till his wily foe is found,
Slay the secret sacrificer on the sacrificial ground!”
Unto holy Nikumbhila, Lakshman with Bibhishan went,
Bravest, choicest of the army, Rama with his brother sent,
Magic rites and sacrifices Indrajit had scarce begun,
When surprised by arméd foemen rose in anger Ravan’s son!
“Art thou he,” thus to Bibhishan, Indrajit in anger spake,
“Brother of my royal father, stealing thus my life to take,
Raksha, born of Raksha parents, dost thou glory in this deed,
Traitor to thy king and kinsmen, false to us in direst need?
Scorn and pity fill my bosom thus to see thee leave thy kin,
Serving as a slave of foemen, stooping to a deed of sin,
For the slave who leaves his kindred, basely seeks the foeman’s grace,
Meets destruction from the foeman after he destroys his race!”
“Untaught child of impure passions,” thus Bibhishan answer made,
“Of my righteous worth unconscious bitter accents hast thou said,
And we shun the impious kinsman as we shun the poisonous snake!
Listen youth! this earth no longer bears thy father’s sin and strife,
Plunder of the righteous neighbour, passion for the neighbour’s wife,
Earth and skies have doomed thy father for his sin-polluted reign,
Unto Gods his proud defiance and his wrongs to sons of men!
Listen more! this fated Lanka groans beneath her load of crime,
And shall perish in her folly by the ruthless hand of Time,
Thou shalt perish and thy father and this proud presumptuous state,
Lakshman meets thee, impious Raksha, by the stern decree of Fate!”
“Hast thou too forgot the lesson,” Indrajit to Lakshman said,
“Twice in field of war unconscious thee with Rama have I laid,
Dost thou stealing like a serpent brave my yet unconquered might,
Perish, boy, in thy presumption, in this last and fatal fight!”
Spake the hero: “Like a coward hid beneath a mantling cloud,
Thou hast battled like a caitiff safe behind thy sheltering shroud,
Now I seek an open combat, time is none to prate or speak,
Boastful word is coward’s weapon, weapons and thy arrows seek!”
Soon they mixed in dubious combat, fury fired each foeman’s heart,
Either warrior felt his rival worthy of his bow and dart,
Lakshman with his hurtling arrows pierced the Raksha’s golden mail,
Shattered by the Raksha’s weapons Lakshman’s useless armour fell,
Red with gore and dim in eyesight still the chiefs in fury fought,
Neither quailed before his foeman, pause nor grace nor mercy sought,
Till with more than human valour Lakshman drew his bow amain,
Slayed the Raksha’s steeds and driver, severed too his bow in twain,
Gods assist the cause of virtue!” – Lakshman uttered as he drew,
Fatal was the dart unerring, – Gods assist the true and bold, –
On the field of Nikumbhila, Lakshman’s foeman headless rolled!
VII. Ravan’s Lament
“Quenched the light of Rakshas’ valour!” so the message-bearer said,
“Lakshman with the deep Bibhishan hath thy son in battle slayed,
Fallen is our prince and hero and his day on earth is done,
In a brighter world, O monarch, lives thy brave thy gallant son!”
Anguish filled the father’s bosom and his fleeting senses failed,
Till to deeper sorrow wakened Lanka’s monarch wept and wailed:
“Greatest of my gallant warriors, dearest to thy father’s heart,
Victor over bright Immortals, – art thou slain by Lakshman’s dart,
Noble prince whose peerless arrows could the peaks of Mandar stain,
And could daunt the Dread Destroyer, – art thou by a mortal slain?
But thy valour lends a radiance to elysium’s sunny clime,
And thy bright name adds a lustre to the glorious rolls of time,
In the skies the bright Immortals lisp thy name with terror pale,
On the earth our maids and matrons mourn thy fall with piercing wail!
Hark! the voice of lamentation waking in the palace halls,
Like the voice of woe in forests when the forest monarch falls,
Hark! the wailing widowed princess, mother weeping for her son,
Leaving them in tears and anguish, Indrajit, where art thou gone?
Full of years, – so oft I pondered, – when the monarch Ravan dies,
Indrajit shall watch his bedside, Indrajit shall close his eyes,
Youth is fallen, and the aged lives to fight the foe alone!”
Tears of sorrow, slow and silent, fell upon the monarch’s breast,
Then a swelling rage and passion woke within his heaving chest,
Like the sun of scorching summer glowed his face in wrathful shame,
From his brow and rolling eyeballs issued sparks of living flame!
“Perish she!” exclaimed the monarch, “she-wolf Sita dies to-day,
Indrajit but cleft her image, Ravan will the woman slay!”
Followed by his trembling courtiers, regal robes and garments rent,
Ravan shaking in his passion to Asoka’s garden went,
Maddened by his wrath and anguish, with his drawn and flaming sword,
Sought the shades where soft-eyed Sita silent sorrowed for her lord,
Woman’s blood the royal sabre on that fatal day had stained,
But his true and faithful courtiers Ravan’s wrathful hand restrained,
And the watchful Raksha females girdled round the sorrowing dame,
Flung them on the path of Ravan to withstand a deed of shame,
“Not against a woman, Ravan, mighty warriors raise their hand,
In the battle,” spake the courtiers, “duty bids thee use thy brand,
Versed in Vedas and in learning, court not thus a caitiff’s fate,
Woman’s blood pollutes our valour, closes heaven’s eternal gate!
Leave the woman in her sorrow, mount upon thy battle car,
Faithful to our king and leader we will wake the voice of war,
’Tis the fourteenth day auspicious of the dark and waning moon,
Glory waiteth thee in battle and thy vengeance cometh soon,
All-resistless in the contest slay thy foeman in his pride,
Seek as victor of the combat widowed Sita as thy bride!”
Slow and sullen, dark and silent, Ravan then his wrath restrained,
Vengeance on his son’s destroyer deep within his bosom reigned!
VIII. Ravan’s Second Battle and Vengeance
Issuing from the homes of Lanka did the monarch’s ears assail,
And a mighty thought of vengeance waked within the monarch’s heart,
And he heaved a sigh of anguish as he grasped his bow and dart:
“Arm each chief and gallant Raksha! be our sacred duty done,
Ravan seeks a fitting vengeance for his brave and noble son,
Mahodar and Virupaksha, Mahaparshwa warrior tall,
Arm! this fated day will witness Lakshman’s or your monarch’s fall!
Call to mind each slaughtered hero, – Khara, Dushan, slain in fight,
Kumbha-karna giant warrior, Indrajit of magic might,
Earth nor sky shall hide my foemen nor the ocean’s heaving swell,
Scattered ranks of Rama’s forces shall my speedy vengeance tell,
Be the red-earth strewn and covered with our countless foemen slain,
Hungry wolves and blood-beaked vultures feed upon the ghastly plain,
For his great and gallant brother, for his brave and beauteous son,
Ravan seeks a fitting vengeance, Rakshas be your duty done!”
House to house, in Lanka’s city, Ravan’s royal hest was heard,
Street and lane poured forth their warriors by a mighty passion stirred,
With their javelin and sabre, mace and club and axe and pike,
Sataghni and bhindipala, quoit and discus quick to strike.
And they formed the line of tuskers and the line of battle car,
Mule and camel fit for burden and the fiery steed of war,
Serried ranks of arméd soldiers shook the earth beneath their tread,
Horsemen that on wings of lightning o’er the field of battle spread.
Pataha and loud mridanga and the people’s maddening cry,
Thundering through the gates of Lanka, Ravan’s lofty chariot passed,
Destined by his fortune, Ravan ne’er again those portals crost!
And the sun was dim and clouded and a sudden darkness fell,
Birds gave forth their boding voices and the earth confessed a spell,
Gouts of blood in rain descended, startled coursers turned to fly,
Vultures swooped upon the banner, jackals yelled their doleful cry,
Omens of a dark disaster mantled o’er the vale and rock,
And the ocean heaved in billows, nations felt the earthquake’s shock!
Darkly closed the fatal battle, sturdy Vanars fell in light,
Warlike leaders of the Rakshas perished neath the foeman’s might,
Mahodhar and Virupaksha were by bold Sugriva slain,
Crushed by Angad, Mahaparshwa slumbered lifeless on the plain,
But with more than mortal valour Ravan swept the ranks of war,
Warriors fell beneath his prowess, fled before his mighty car,
Cleaving through the Vanar forces, filled with vengeance deep and dire,
Ravan marked the gallant Lakshman flaming like a crimson fire!
Like the tempest cloud of summer Ravan’s wingéd coursers flew,
But Bibhishan in his prowess soon the gallant chargers slew,
Dashing from his useless chariot Ravan leaped upon the ground,
And his false and traitor brother by his dearest foeman found!
Wrathful Ravan marked Bibhishan battling by the foeman’s side
And he hurled his pond’rous weapon for to slay him in his pride,
Lakshman marked the mighty jav’lin as it winged its whizzing flight,
Cleft it in its onward passage, saved Bibhishan by his might!
Grimly smiled the angry Ravan gloating in his vengeful wrath,
Spake to young and dauntless Lakshman daring thus to cross his path:
Face the anger of a father, cruel slayer of the son,
By thy skill and by thy valour, false Bibhishan thou hast saved,
Save thyself! Deep in this bosom is a cruel grief engraved!”
Father’s grief and sad remembrance urged the lightning-wingéd dart,
Ravan’s Sakti fell resistless on the senseless Lakshman’s heart,
Wrathful Rama saw the combat and arose in godlike might,
Carless, steedless, wounded Ravan sought his safety in his flight.
IX. Rama’s Lament
“Art thou fallen,” sorrowed Rama, “weary of this endless strife,
Lakshman, if thy days are ended, Rama recks not for his life,
Gone is Rama’s wonted valour, weapons leave his nerveless hand,
Drop his bow and shining arrows, useless hangs his sheathéd brand!
Art thou fallen, gallant Lakshman, death and faintness on me creep,
Weary of this fatal contest let me by my brother sleep,
Weary of the strife and triumph, since my faithful friend is gone,
Rama follows in his footsteps and his task on earth is done!
Thou hast from the far Ayodhya, followed me in deepest wood,
In the thickest of the battle thou hast by thy elder stood,
Love of woman, love of comrade, trite is love of kith and kind,
Love like thine, true-hearted brother, not on earth we often find!
When Sumitra seeks thee, Lakshman, ever weeping for thy sake,
When she asks me of her hero, what reply shall Rama make,
Where is true and faithful Lakshman who beside his elder stood?
What great crime or fatal shadow darkens o’er my hapless life,
Victim to the sins of Rama sinless Lakshman falls in strife,
Best of brothers, best of warriors, wherefore thus unconscious lie,
Mother, wife, and brother wait thee, ope once more thy sleeping eye!”
Tara’s father, wise Susena, gentle consolation lent,
Hanuman from distant mountains herbs of healing virtue rent,
And by loving Rama tended, Lakshman in his strength arose,
Stirred by thoughts of fatal vengeance Rama sought the flying foes.
X. Celestial Arms and Chariot
Not in dastard terror Ravan sought his safety in his flight,
But to seek fresh steeds of battle ere he faced his foeman’s might,
Harnessing his gallant coursers to a new and glorious car,
Sunlike in its radiant splendour, Ravan came once more to war,
Gods in wonder watched the contest of the more than mortal foes,
Ravan mighty in his vengeance, Rama lofty in his woes,
Gods in wonder marked the heroes, lion-like in jungle wood,
Indra sent his arms and chariot where the human warrior stood!
“Speed, Matali” thus spake Indra, “speed thee with my heavenly car,
Where on foot the righteous Rama meets his mounted foe in war,
Speed, for Ravan’s days are ended, and his moments brief and few,
Rama strives for right and virtue, – Gods assist the brave and true!”
Where the true and righteous Rama sought his foe in fatal fray,
Shining arms and heavenly weapons he to lofty Rama gave, –
When the righteous strive and struggle, Gods assist the true and brave!
“Take this car,” so said Matali, “which the helping Gods provide,
Rama, take these steeds celestial, Indra’s golden chariot ride,
Take this royal bow and quiver, wear this falchion dread and dire,
Viswa-karman forged this armour in the flames of heavenly fire,
I shall be thy chariot driver and shall speed the thund’ring car,
Slay the sin-polluted Ravan in this last and fatal war!”
Rama mounted on the chariot clad in arms of heavenly sheen,
And he mingled in a contest mortal eyes have never seen!
XI. Ravan’s Third Battle and Fall
Gods and mortals watched the contest and the heroes of the war,
Ravan speeding on his chariot, Rama on the heavenly car,
And a fiercer form the warriors in their fiery frenzy wore,
And a deeper weight of hatred on their anguished bosoms bore,
Clouds of dread and deathful arrows hid the radiant face of sky,
Darker grew the day of combat, fiercer grew the contest high!
Pierced by Ravan’s pointed weapons bleeding Rama owned no pain,
Rama’s arrows keen and piercing sought his foeman’s life in vain,
Long the dubious battle lasted, and with wilder fury fraught,
Wounded, faint, and still unyielding, blind with wrath the rivals fought,
Pike and club and mace and trident scaped from Ravan’s vengeful hand,
Spear and arrows Rama wielded, and his bright and flaming brand!
Winds were hushed in voiceless terror and the livid sun was pale,
Still the dubious battle lasted, until Rama in his ire,
Wielded Brahma’s deathful weapon flaming with celestial fire!
Weapon which the Saint Agastya had unto the hero given,
Winged as lightning dart of Indra, fatal as the bolt of heaven,
Wrapped in smoke and flaming flashes, speeding from the circled bow,
Pierced the iron heart of Ravan, lain the lifeless hero low,
And a cry of pain and terror from the Raksha ranks arose,
And a shout from joying Vanars as they smote their fleeing foes!
Heavenly flowers in rain descended on the red and gory plain,
And from unseen harps and timbrels rose a soft celestial strain,
And the ocean heaved in gladness, brighter shone the sunlit sky,
Soft and cool the gentle zephyrs through the forest murmured by,
Sweetest scent and fragrant odours wafted from celestial trees,
Fell upon the earth and ocean, rode upon the laden breeze!
Voice of blessing from the bright sky fell on Raghus’ valiant son, –
“Champion of the true and righteous! now thy noble task is done!”
XII. Mandodari’s Lament and the Funerals
“Hast thou fallen,” wept in anguish Ravan’s first and eldest bride,
Mandodari, slender-waisted, Queen of Lanka’s state and pride,
“Hast thou fallen, king and consort, more than Gods in warlike might,
Slain by man, whom bright Immortals feared to face in dubious fight?
Not a man! – the Dark Destroyer came to thee in mortal form,
Or the heaven-traversing Vishnu, Indra ruler of the storm,
Girdling round the Discus-Wielder in the battle’s direst need!
Well I knew, – when Khara, Dushan, were by Rama’s prowess slain,
Rama was no earthly mortal, he who crossed the mighty main,
Well I knew, – when with his army he invested Lanka’s gate,
Rama was no earthly mortal but the messenger of Fate,
And I prayed, – the faithful Sita might unto her consort go,
For ’tis writ that nations perish for a righteous woman’s woe,
But for impious lust of woman, – all forgetful of thy wife,
Thou hast lost thy crown and kingdom, thou hast lost thy fated life!
Woe to me! the sad remembrance haunts my tortured bosom still,
Of our days on famed Kailasa or on Meru’s golden hill,
Gone the days of joy and gladness, Mandodari’s days are done,
Since her lord and king and husband from her dear embrace is gone!”
Sorely wept the Queen of Lanka; Rama, tender, tearful, true,
Bade the funeral rites and honours to a fallen foeman due,
And they heaped the wood of Chandan and the fragrant garland laid,
On the pyre they lifted Ravan in the richest robes arrayed,
Weeping queens and sorrowing Rakshas round their fallen leader stood,
Brahmans with their chaunted mantra piled the dry and scented wood,
Oil and cords and sacred offerings were upon the altar laid,
And a goat of inky darkness as a sacrifice was slayed.
Piously the good Bibhishan lighted Ravan’s funeral pyre,
And the zephyrs gently blowing fanned the bright and blazing fire,
Slow and sad with due ablutions mourners left the funeral site,
Rama then unstrung his weapon, laid aside his arms of might.