On that same day that saw the king
His gift of kine distributing,
The lord of Kekaya's son, by name
Yudhájit, Bharat's uncle, came,
Asked of the monarch's health, and then
Addressed the reverend king of men:
"The lord of Kekaya's realm by me
Sends greeting, noble King, to thee:
Asks if the friends thy prayers would bless
Uninterrupted health possess.
Right anxious, mighty King, is he
My sister's princely boy to see.
For this I sought Ayodhyá fair
The message of my sire to bear.
There learning, O my liege, that thou
With sons and noble kinsmen now
Wast resting here, I sought the place
Longing to see my nephew's face."
The king with kind observance cheered
His friend by tender ties endeared,
And every choicest honour pressed
Upon his honourable guest.
That night with all his children spent,
At morn King Dasaratha went,
Behind Vasishtha and the rest,
To the fair ground for rites addressed.
Then when the lucky hour was nigh
Called Victory, of omen high,
Came Ráma, after vow and prayer
For nuptial bliss and fortune fair,
With the three youths in bright attire,
And stood beside his royal sire.
To Janak then Vasishtha sped,
And to Videha's monarch said:
"O King, Ayodhyá's ruler now
Has breathed the prayer and vowed the vow,
And with his sons expecting stands
The giver of the maidens' hands.
The giver and the taker both
Must ratify a mutual oath.
Perform the part for which we wait,
And rites of marriage celebrate."
Skilled in the laws which Scriptures teach,
He answered thus Vasishtha's speech:
"O Saint, what warder bars the gate?
Whose bidding can the king await?
In one's own house what doubt is shown?
This kingdom, Sage, is all thine own.
E'en now the maidens may be found
Within the sacrificial ground:
Each vow is vowed and prayed each prayer,
And they, like fire, are shining there.
Here by the shrine my place I took
Expecting thee with eager look,
No bar the nuptial rites should stay:
What cause have we for more delay?"
When Janak's speech the monarch heard,
To sons and saints he gave the word,
And set them in the holy ring,
Then to Vasishtha spoke the king
Of Mithilá: "O mighty Sage,
Now let this task thy care engage,
And lend thine aid and counsel wise
The nuptial rites to solemnize."
The saint Vasishtha gave assent,
And quickly to the task he went,
With Visvámitra, nothing loth,
And Satánanda aiding both.
Then, as the rules prescribe, they made
An altar in the midst, and laid
Fresh wreaths of fragrant flowers thereon.
The golden ladles round it shone;
And many a vase, which branches hid
Fixed in the perforated lid,
And sprays, and cups, and censers there
Stood filled with incense rich and rare;
Shell-bowls, and spoons, and salvers dressed
With gifts that greet the honoured guest;
Piles of parched rice some dishes bore,
Others with corn prepared ran o'er;
And holy grass was duly spread
In equal lengths, while prayers were said.
Next chief of saints, Vasishtha came
And laid the offering in the flame.
Then by the hand King Janak drew
His Sítá, beautiful to view,
And placed her, bright in rich attire,
Ráma to face, before the fire,
Thus speaking to the royal boy
Who filled Kausalyá's heart with joy:
"Here Sítá stands, my daughter fair,
The duties of thy life to share.
Take from her father, take thy bride;
Join hand to hand, and bliss betide!
A faithful wife, most blest is she,
And as thy shade will follow thee."
Thus as he spoke the monarch threw
O'er her young limbs the holy dew,
While Gods and saints were heard to swell
The joyous cry, 'Tis well! 'Tis well!
His daughter Sítá thus bestowed,
O'er whom the sacred drops had flowed.
King Janak's heart with rapture glowed.
Then to Prince Lakshman thus he cried:
"Take Urmilá thine offered bride,
And clasp her hand within thine own
Ere yet the lucky hour be flown."
Then to Prince Bharat thus cried he;
"Come, take the hand of Mándavi."
Then to Satrughna: "In thy grasp
The hand of Srutakírti clasp.
Now, Raghu's sons, may all of you
Be gentle to your wives and true;
Keep well the vows you make to-day,
Nor let occasion slip away."
King Janak's word the youths obeyed;
The maidens' hands in theirs they laid.
Then with their brides the princes went
With ordered steps and reverent
Round both the fire and Janak, round
The sages and the sacred ground.
A flowery flood of lucid dyes
In rain descended from the skies,
While with celestial voices blent
Sweet strains from many an instrument,
And the nymphs danced in joyous throng
Responsive to the minstrel's song.
Such signs of exultation they
Saw on the princes' wedding day.
Still rang the heavenly music's sound
When Raghu's sons thrice circled round
The fire, each one with reverent head,
And homeward then their brides they led.
They to the sumptuous palace hied
That Janak's care had seen supplied.
The monarch girt with saint and peer
Still fondly gazing followed near.