The haughty challenge, undeterred
The son of Dasaratha heard,
And cried, while reverence for his sire
Checked the full torrent of his ire:
"Before this day have I been told
The deed that stained thy hands of old.
But pity bids my soul forget:
Thy father, murdered, claimed the debt.
My strength, O Chief, thou deemest slight,
Too feeble for a Warrior's might.
Now will I show thy wondering eyes
The prowess which they dare despise."
He hastened then with graceful ease
That mighty bow and shaft to seize.
His hand the weapon strung and swayed:
The arrow on the string was laid.
Then Jamadagni's son he eyed,
And thus in words of fury cried:
"Thou art a Bráhman, still to be
Most highly honoured, Chief, by me.
For Visvámitra's sake beside
Shall reverence due be ne'er denied.
Though mine the power, I would not send
A dart at thee thy life to end.
But thy great power to wander free,
Which penance-rites have won for thee,
Or glorious worlds from thee to wrest,
Is the firm purpose of my breast,
And Vishnu's dart which now I strain
Can ne'er be shot to fall in vain:
It strikes the mighty, and it stuns
The madness of the haughty ones."
Then Gods, and saints and heavenly choir
Preceded by the General Sire,
Met in the air and gazed below
On Ráma with that wondrous bow.
Nymph, minstrel, angel, all were there,
Snake-God, and spirit of the air,
Giant, and bard, and gryphon, met,
Their eyes upon the marvel set.
In senseless hush the world was chained
While Ráma's hand the bow retained,
And Jamadagni's son amazed
And powerless on the hero gazed.
Then when his swelling heart had shrunk,
And his proud strength in torpor sunk,
Scarce his voice ventured, low and weak,
To Ráma lotus-eyed, to speak:
"When long ago I gave away
The whole broad land to Kasyap's sway
He charged me never to remain
Within the limits of his reign.
Obedient to my guide's behest
On earth by night I never rest.
My choice is made, I will not dim
Mine honour and be false to him.
So, son of Raghu, leave me still
The power to wander where I will,
And swifter than the thought my flight
Shall place me on Mahendra's height.
My mansions of eternal joy,
By penance won, thou mayst destroy,
My path to these thy shaft may stay.
Now to the work! No more delay!
I know thee Lord of Gods; I know
Thy changeless might laid Madhu low.
All other hands would surely fail
To bend this bow. All hail! all hail!
See! all the Gods have left the skies
To bend on thee their eager eyes,
With whose achievements none compete,
Whose arm in war no God can meet.
No shame is mine, I ween, for thou,
Lord of the Worlds, hast dimmed my brow.
Now, pious Ráma, 'tis thy part
To shoot afar that glorious dart:
I, when the fatal shaft is shot,
Will seek that hill and tarry not."
He ceased. The wondrous arrow flew,
And Jamadagni's offspring knew
Those glorious worlds to him were barred,
Once gained by penance long and hard.
Then straight the airy quarters cleared,
And the mid regions bright appeared,
While Gods and saints unnumbered praised
Ráma, the mighty bow who raised.
And Jamadagni's son, o'erawed.
Extolled his name with highest laud,
With reverent steps around him strode,
Then hastened on his airy road.
Far from the sight of all he fled,
And rested on Mahendra's head.