"Heroic Ráma, men proclaim
The marvels of thy matchless fame,
And I from loud-voiced rumour know
The exploit of the broken bow,
Yea, bent and broken, mighty Chief,
A feat most wondrous, past belief.
Stirred by thy fame thy face I sought:
A peerless bow I too have brought.
This mighty weapon, strong and dire,
Great Jamadagni owned, my sire.
Draw with its shaft my father's bow,
And thus thy might, O Ráma, show.
This proof of prowess let me see--
The weapon bent and drawn by thee;
Then single fight our strength shall try,
And this shall raise thy glory high."
King Dasaratha heard with dread
The boastful speech, and thus he said;
Raising his hands in suppliant guise,
With pallid cheek and timid eyes:
"Forgetful of the bloody feud
Ascetic toils hast thou pursued;
Then, Bráhman, let thy children be
Untroubled and from danger free.
Sprung of the race of Bhrigu, who
Read holy lore, to vows most true,
Thou swarest to the Thousand-eyed
And thy fierce axe was cast aside.
Thou turnedst to thy rites away
Leaving the earth to Kasyap's sway,
And wentest far a grove to seek
Beneath Mahendra's(255) mountain peak.
Now, mighty Hermit, art thou here
To slay us all with doom severe?
For if alone my Ráma fall,
We share his fate and perish all."
As thus the aged sire complained
The mighty chief no answer deigned.
To Ráma only thus he cried:
"Two bows, the Heavenly Artist's pride,
Celestial, peerless, vast, and strong,
By all the worlds were honoured long.
One to the Three-eyed God(256) was given,
By glory to the conflict driven,
Thus armed fierce Tripura he slew:
And then by thee 'twas burst in two.
The second bow, which few may brave,
The highest Gods to Vishnu gave.
This bow I hold; before it fall
The foeman's fenced tower and wall.
Then prayed the Gods the Sire Most High
By some unerring proof to try
Were praise for might Lord Vishnu's due,
Or his whose Neck is stained with Blue.(257)
The mighty Sire their wishes knew,
And he whose lips are ever true
Caused the two Gods to meet as foes.
Then fierce the rage of battle rose:
Bristled in dread each starting hair
As Siva strove with Vishnu there.
But Vishnu raised his voice amain.
And Siva's bowstring twanged in vain;
Its master of the Three bright Eyes
Stood fixt in fury and surprise.
Then all the dwellers in the sky,
Minstrel, and saint, and God drew nigh,
And prayed them that the strife might cease,
And the great rivals met in peace.
'Twas seen how Siva's bow has failed
Unnerved, when Vishnu's might assailed,
And Gods and heavenly sages thence
To Vishnu gave preëminence.
Then glorious Siva in his rage
Gave it to Devarát the sage
Who ruled Videha's fertile land,
To pass it down from hand to hand.
But this my bow, whose shafts smite down
The foeman's fenced tower and town,
To great Richíka Vishnu lent
To be a pledge and ornament,
Then Jamadagni, Bráhman dread,
My sire, the bow inherited.
But Arjun stooped to treachery vile
And slew my noble sire by guile,
Whose penance awful strength had gained,
Whose hand the God-given bow retained.
I heard indignant how he fell
By mournful fate, too sad to tell.
My vengeful fury since that time
Scourges all Warriors for the crime.
As generations spring to life
I war them down in endless strife.
All earth I brought beneath my sway,
And gave it for his meed and pay
To holy Kasyap, when of yore
The rites performed by him were o'er.
Then to Mahendra's hill I turned
Strong in the strength that penance earned,
And toiled upon his lofty head
By Gods immortal visited.
The breaking of the bow I knew
From startled Gods conversing, through
The airy regions, of thy deed,
And hither came with swiftest speed.
Now, for thy Warrior's honour sake,
This best of bows, O Ráma, take:
This, owned by Vishnu's self of old,
My sire and grandsire loved to hold.
Drawn to its head upon the string,
One town-destroying arrow bring;
If this thou can, O hero, I
In single fight thy strength will try."