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Daksha's Sacrifice, Page 257.

Like Siva when his angry might
Stayed Daksha's sacrificial rite.

The following spirited version of this old story is from the pen of Mr. W. Waterfield:

"This is a favorite subject of Hindú sculpture, especially on the temples of Shiva, such as the caves of Elephanta and Ellora. It, no doubt, is an allegory of the contest between the followers of Shiva and the worshippers of the Elements, who observed the old ritual of the Vedas; in which the name of Shiva is never mentioned.

Daksha for devotion
Made a mighty feast:
Milk and curds and butter,
Flesh of bird and beast,
Rice and spice and honey,
Sweetmeats ghí and gur,(1038)
Gifts for all the Bráhmans,
Food for all the poor.
At the gates of Gangá(1039)
Daksha held his feast;
Called the gods unto it,
Greatest as the least.
All the gods were gathered
Round with one accord;
All the gods but Umá,
All but Umá's lord.
Umá sat with Shiva
On Kailása hill:
Round them stood the Rudras
Watching for their will.
Who is this that cometh
Lilting to his lute?
All the birds of heaven
Heard his music, mute.
Round his head a garland
Rich of hue was wreathed:
Every sweetest odour
From its blossoms breathed.
'Tis the Muni Nárad;
'Mong the gods he fares,
Ever making mischief
By the tales he bears.
"Hail to lovely Umá!
Hail to Umá's lord!
Wherefore are they absent
For her father's board?
Multiplied his merits
Would be truly thrice,
Could he gain your favour
For his sacrifice."
Worth of heart was Umá;
To her lord she spake:--
"Why dost thou, the mighty,
Of no rite partake?
Straight I speed to Daksha
Such a sight to see:
If he be my father,
He must welcome thee."
Wondrous was in glory
Daksha's holy rite;
Never had creation
Viewed so brave a sight.
Gods, and nymphs, find fathers,
Sages, Bráhmans, sprites,--
Every diverge creature
Wrought that rite of rites.
Quickly then a quaking
Fell on all from far;
Umá stood among them
On her lion car.
"Greeting, gods and sages,
Greeting, father mine!
Work hath wondrous virtue,
Where such aids combine.
Guest-hall never gathered
Goodlier company:
Seemeth all are welcome.
All the gods but me."
Spake the Muni Daksha,
Stern and cold his tone:--
"Welcome thou, too, daughter,
Since thou com'st alone.
But thy frenzied husband
Suits another shrine;
He is no partaker
Of this feast of mine.
He who walks in darkness
Loves no deeds of light:
He who herds with demons
Shuns each kindly sprite.
Let him wander naked.--
Wizard weapons wield,--
Dance his frantic measure
Round the funeral field.
Art thou yet delighted
With the reeking hide,
Body smeared with ashes.
Skulls in necklace tied?
Thou to love this monster?
Thou to plead his part!
Know the moon and Gangá
Share that faithless heart
Vainly art thou vying
With thy rivals' charms.
Are not coils of serpents
Softer than thine arms?"
Words like these from Daksha
Daksha's daughter heard:
Then a sudden passion
All her bosom stirred.
Eyes with fury flashing.
Speechless in her ire,
Headlong did she hurl her
'Mid the holy fire.
Then a trembling terror
Overcame each one,
And their minds were troubled
Like a darkened sun;
And a cruel Vision,
Face of lurid flame,
Umá's Wrath incarnate,
From the altar came.
Fiendlike forms by thousands
Started from his side,
'Gainst the sacrificers
All their might they plied:
Till the saints availed not
Strength like theirs to stay,
And the gods distracted
Turned and fled away.
Hushed were hymns and chanting,
Priests were mocked and spurned;
Food defiled and scattered;
Altars overturned.--
Then, to save the object
Sought at such a price,
Like a deer in semblance
Sped the sacrifice.
Soaring toward the heavens,
Through the sky it fled?
But the Rudras chasing
Smote away its head.
Prostrate on the pavement
Daksha fell dismayed:--
"Mightiest, thou hast conquered
Thee we ask for aid.
Let not our oblations
All be rendered vain;
Let our toilsome labour
Full fruition gain."
Bright the broken altars
Shone with Shiva's form;
"Be it so!" His blessing
Soothed that frantic storm.
Soon his anger ceases,
Though it soon arise;--
But the Deer's Head ever
Blazes in the skies."

Indian Ballads and other Poems.