Page images
PDF
EPUB

This giant Ravan who, in senseless pride,

Has, trusting to his own right arm, defied
The hosts of Heaven, and ever plagues with woe
Seraphs and Gods above and saints below.
Crusht are the Blest, who roam through Nandan's' shade,
The saint, the seraph, and the heavenly maid.
We, with the sages, Lord, to thee draw nigh,
And crave thy succour that the fiend may

die.
Angel and chorister before thee bow :
Our surest hope, O conquering Lord, art thou.
Arise, O King, regard the world below,
And slay in fight the Gods' tremendous foe."

Thus prayed the Children of the Sky; the lord
Supreme of Gods, by all the worlds adored,
Thus to the suppliants in answer spake :
“Fear not, ye sons of Heaven, but comfort take;
Ravan, your terror, by this hand shall fall,
With son and grandson, lord and captain ; all
His friends and counsellors, his kith and kin,
Shall share his ruin as they share his sin.

1 Indra's celestial garden.

Thus will I triumph o'er the foe, and then
Dwelling as man among the sons of men,
The while ten thousand seasons roll away,
Will guard the earth with mine imperial sway.”

Then nymph and angel, and the minstrel throng, With heavenly voices, raised their choral song :' And all the region, filled with music, rang With lauds to Madhu's victor, while they sang : “Go forth and fight, and strike the monster dead,

The scourge of saints, immortal Indra's dread;

The fell fiend Ravan, ravener abhorred;

I Cp. Paradise Lost. Book III. 344.
“No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled
The eternal regions."

9 Madhu was a Daitya or demon slain by Vishnu.

3 Virávanam rávanam. Literally Ravan who causes weeping: both words being formed from the root ru (Lat. raucus, rumor): from which too comes the English word raven.

For a similar play upon the word cp. Paradise Regained :
"And saw the ravens with their horned beaks
Food to Elijah bringing, even and morn,
Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought.”

Slay him, and all his race, avenging Lord ! Then turn triumphant to thine home on high, And reign for ever in the ransomed sky.”

THE BIRTH OF RAMA.

“ The scene changes to earth, where Dasaratha, King of Ayodhya, after a life spent in deeds of virtue, finds bis years drawing to a close without any heir to defend his old age or succeed to his crown. A holy rishi, or saint, reveals to him that he shall obtain his desires, on performing the Aswamedha, or sacrifice of a horse, which occupies such a pre-eminent place in the Hindu religious rites. The sacrifice is accordingly performed, and with the promised result. Dasaratha's three wives become the mothers of four sons, all participating in the divine nature of Vishnu ; but Rama, the eldest, is Vishnu himself.”_Westminister Review, October 1848. p. 41.

With costly sacrifice, with praise, and prayer,
Ayodhya's king had claimed from Heaven an heir ;
When from the shrine, where burnt the holy flame,
Scaring the priests, a glorious angel came,
With arms that trembled as they scarce could hold
A flood of nectar in a vase of gold :
A weight too vast for even him to bear,
For Vishnu's self, the first of Gods, was there.
With reverent awe the Lord of Kosal's land'
Received the nectar from the angel's hand,

| Kosala was the name of the Kingdom of which Ayodhya was the capital.

As erst Lord Indra from the milky wave
Took the sweet drink that troubled ocean gave.

2

Soon as the queens had shared that mystic bowl, Hope, sure and stedfast, filled each lady's soul. They saw, in dreams, a glorious host who kept Their watch around them, as they sweetly slept. They mounted skyward on the feathered king, Who spread a glory with each golden wing, And as he shot through plains of ether drew The cloudy rack to follow where he flew. Now Lakshmi,' with her consort's mystic gem Sparkling upon her breast, for love of them Came from the skies, and her own radiant hand

Their slumbering eyelids with a lotus fanned.
Then from their homes on high-their holy hair
Damp from the lucid stream that wanders there-

1 The Amrit, or nectar of the Indian Gods, buried at the Deluge and recovered at the Churning of the Ocean. The story is told in the Mahábhárata and translated in Specimens of old Indian Poetry.

2 The sacred bird of Vishnu, Garuda by name.

3 Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty and Fortune, was the wife of Vishnu. The mystic gem is called Kaustubha

« the best
Of gems, that burns with living light

Upon Lord Vishnu's breast."

« PreviousContinue »