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Canto V. Ráma's Fast.

Then Saint Vasishtha to the king
Came ready at his summoning.
"Now go," exclaimed the monarch, "thou
Enriched by fervent rite and vow,
For Ráma and his wife ordain
The fast, that joy may bless his reign."

The best of those who Scripture know
Said to the king, "My lord, I go."
To Ráma's house Vasishtha hied,
The hero's fast by rule to guide,
And skilled in sacred texts to tell
Each step to him instructed well.
Straight to Prince Ráma's high abode,
That like a cloud pale-tinted showed,
Borne in his priestly car he rode.
Two courts he passed, and in the third
He stayed his car. Then Ráma heard
The holy sage was come, and flew
To honour him with honour due.
He hastened to the car and lent
His hand to aid the priest's descent.
Then spoke Vasishtha words like these,
Pleased with his reverent courtesies,
With pleasant things his heart to cheer
Who best deserved glad news to hear:
"Prince, thou hast won thy father's grace,
And thine will be the Regent's place:
Now with thy Sítá, as is right,
In strictest fasting spend the night,
For when the morrow's dawn is fair
The king will consecrate his heir:
So Nahush,(269) as the wise relate,
Yayáti joyed to consecrate."

Thus having said, Vasishtha next
Ordained the fast by rule and text,
For Ráma faithful to his vows
And the Videhan dame his spouse.
Then from the prince's house he hied
With courteous honours gratified.
Round Ráma gathered every friend
In pleasant talk a while to spend.
He bade good night to all at last,
And to his inner chamber passed.
Then Ráma's house shone bright and gay
With men and maids in glad array,
As in the morning some fair lake
When all her lotuses awake,
And every bird that loves the flood
Flits joyous round each opening bud.

Forth from the house Vasishtha drove,
That with the king's in splendour strove,
And all the royal street he viewed
Filled with a mighty multitude
The eager concourse blocked each square,
Each road and lane and thoroughfare,
And joyous shouts on every side
Rose like the roar of Ocean's tide,
As streams of men together came
With loud huzza and glad acclaim.
The ways were watered, swept and clean,
And decked with flowers and garlands green
And all Ayodhyá shone arrayed
With banners on the roofs that played.
Men, women, boys with eager eyes,
Expecting when the sun should rise,
Stood longing for the herald ray
Of Ráma's consecration day,
To see, a source of joy to all,
The people-honoured festival.

The priest advancing slowly through
The mighty crowd he cleft in two,
Near to the monarch's palace drew.
He sought the terrace, by the stair,
Like a white cloud-peak high in air,
The reverend king of men to meet
Who sate upon his splendid seat:
Thus will Vrihaspati arise
To meet the monarch of the skies.
But when the king his coming knew,
He left his throne and near him drew
Questioned by him Vasishtha said
That all his task was duly sped.
Then all who sate there, honouring
Vasishtha, rose as rose the king.
Vasishtha bade his lord adieu,
And all the peers, dismissed, withdrew.
Then as a royal lion seeks
His cave beneath the rocky peaks,
So to the chambers where abode
His consorts Dasaratha strode.
Full-thronged were those delightful bowers
With women richly dressed,
And splendid as the radiant towers
Where Indra loves to rest.
Then brighter flashed a thousand eyes
With the light his presence lent,
As, when the moon begins to rise
The star thronged firmament.