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was seated in this mood of meditation and tenderness, Brahma himself the creator of the world appeared, as it is said, before him, exhorted him to sing the deeds of the glorious hero Rama in the metre into which his tenderness had expressed itself, and inspired him with the knowledge of his whole history, in all its particulars whether hidden or public, the divine saint Narada having already introduced him to it by a relation of the main events. This account which is now contained in the introductory portion of the poem itself was perhaps originally preserved separately by tradition.
Valmiki, who was contemporary with his hero, began to compose his poem
when Rama had ascended his paternal throne, having returned from the woods, with his Sita restored.
To write a criticism on the poetry of the Ramayana nicely discerning and aptly delineating the 'various beauties is a task requiring an ability far more than I can lay claim to. I will therefore simply express the general feelings which its perusal excites in every Hindu of true sensibility. No where else, I believe, are poetry and morality so charmingly united-each elevating the other—as in the pages
of this really holy poem. There are indeed many poetical compositions—nay almost all good poetry is such -as forcibly teach us some moral truths, but the Ramayana is the only poem which inspires our breasts with a love of goodness in the entire sense of the word. We rise from its perusal with a loftier idea of almost all the virtues that can adorn manof truth, of filial piety, of paternal love, of female chastity and devotion, of a husband's faithfulness and love, of fraternal affection, of meekness, of forgiveness, of fortitude, of universal benevolence. What, for instance, can excite a greater reverence of divine Truth than the perusal of that scene where Dasaratha parts with his beloved son for her sake and at last sacrifices his life for her? What can more impressively teach us filial love than the conduct of Rama giving up his domestic felicity, his kingdom, to preserve his father's vow? Well may the Ramayana challenge the literature of every age and country to produce a poem that can boast of such perfect characters as a Rama and a Sita.
The loftiness of its moral tone, though a high one, is not the only recommendation of the poem. It is true, in several places, it is mere prosaic narration, yet there is an ample profusion in it of true poetry-glowing delineations of human passions, delicate paintings of natural beauties, and magnificent descriptions of battle-scenes."
In the “Scenes” now offered to the public something like a connected story of the hero's adventures is given from his birth to the loss of Sita : the remainder of the story including the Siege of Lanka, the Defeat of Ravan, and the happy recovery
of Sita, may, perhaps, follow. The “Birth of Rama," I should observe, is not from the Ramayana, but from the Raghuvansa of the later poet Kalidasa.
The chief characteristic of the Ramayana being simplicity, I have not attempted to give my polish which would lessen their resemblance to the original, and I have endeavoured rather to be faithful to the spirit of my author and, if possible, to be readable, than to translate as closely as I might have done.
The Messenger Cloud is the work of Kalidasa, the poet of sweet Sakontala. If Professor H. H Wilson's graceful version of this little poem had been easily accessible to the general reader I should not have attempted my paraphrase.
Most of the pieces now published in a collective form have appeared in the Pandit, the Benares College Journal of Sanskrit literature: the “Hermit's Son” is reprinted, with a few alterations, from “Specimens of Old Indian Poetry.”