"A great emprise, O lovely maid,
To save the Gods, awaits thine aid:
To bind the son of Kusik sure,
And take his soul with love's sweet lure."
Thus order'd by the Thousand-eyed
The suppliant nymph in fear replied:
"O Lord of Gods, this mighty sage
Is very fierce and swift to rage.
I doubt not, he so dread and stern
On me his scorching wrath will turn.
Of this, my lord, am I afraid:
Have mercy on a timid maid."
Her suppliant hands began to shake,
When thus again Lord Indra spake:
"O Rambhá, drive thy fears away,
And as I bid do thou obey.
In Koïl's form, who takes the heart
When trees in spring to blossom start,
I, with Kandarpa for my friend,
Close to thy side mine aid will lend.
Do thou thy beauteous splendour arm
With every grace and winsome charm,
And from his awful rites seduce
This Kusik's son, the stern recluse."
Lord Indra ceased. The nymph obeyed:
In all her loveliest charms arrayed,
With winning ways and witching smile
She sought the hermit to beguile.
The sweet note of that tuneful bird
The saint with ravished bosom heard,
And on his heart a rapture passed
As on the nymph a look he cast.
But when he heard the bird prolong
His sweet incomparable song,
And saw the nymph with winning smile,
The hermit's heart perceived the wile.
And straight he knew the Thousand-eyed
A plot against his peace had tried.
Then Kusik's son indignant laid
His curse upon the heavenly maid:
"Because thou wouldst my soul engage
Who fight to conquer love and rage,
Stand, till ten thousand years have flown,
Ill-fated maid, transformed to stone.
A Bráhman then, in glory strong,
Mighty through penance stern and long,
Shall free thee from thine altered shape;
Thou from my curse shalt then escape."
But when the saint had cursed her so,
His breast was burnt with fires of woe,
Grieved that long effort to restrain
His mighty wrath was all in vain.
Cursed by the angry sage's power,
She stood in stone that selfsame hour.
Kandarpa heard the words he said,
And quickly from his presence fled.
His fall beneath his passion's sway
Had reft the hermit's meed away.
Unconquered yet his secret foes,
The humbled saint refused repose:
"No more shall rage my bosom till,
Sealed be my lips, my tongue be still.
My very breath henceforth I hold
Until a thousand years are told:
Victorious o'er each erring sense,
I'll dry my frame with abstinence,
Until by penance duly done
A Bráhman's rank be bought and won.
For countless years, as still as death,
I taste no food, I draw no breath,
And as I toil my frame shall stand
Unharmed by time's destroying hand."