"Lord of the mighty arm, of yore
A shape transcending thought I wore,
And through the triple world's extent
My fame for might and valour went.
Scarce might the sun and moon on high,
Scarce Sakra, with my beauty vie.
Then for a time this form I took,
And the great world with trembling shook.
The saints in forest shades who dwelt
The terror of my presence felt.
But once I stirred to furious rage
Great Sthúlasiras, glorious sage.
Culling in woods his hermit food
My hideous shape with fear he viewed.
Then forth his words of anger burst
That bade me live a thing accursed:
"Thou, whose delight is others' pain,
This grisly form shalt still retain."
Then when I prayed him to relent
And fix some term of punishment,--
Prayed that the curse at length might cease,
He bade me thus expect release:
"Let Ráma cleave thine arms away
And on the pyre thy body lay,
And then shalt thou, set free from doom,
Thine own fair shape once more assume."
O Lakshman, hear my words: in me
The world-illustrious Danu see.
By Indra's curse, subdued in fight,
I wear this form which scares the sight.
By sternest penance long maintained
The mighty Father's grace I gained.
When length of days the God bestowed,
With foolish pride my bosom glowed.
My life, of lengthened years assured,
I deemed from Sakra's might secured.
Let by my senseless pride astray
I challenged Indra to the fray.
A flaming bolt with many a knot
With his terrific arm he shot,
And straight my head and thighs compressed
Were buried in my bulky chest.
Deaf to each prayer and piteous call
He sent me not to Yáma's hall.
"Thy prayers and cries," he said "are vain:
The Father's word must true remain."
"But how may lengthened life be spent
By one the bolt has torn and rent?
How can I live," I cried, "unfed,
With shattered face and thighs and head?"
As thus I spoke his grace to crave,
Arms each a league in length he gave,
And opened in my chest beneath
This mouth supplied with fearful teeth.
So my huge arms I used to cast
Round woodland creatures as they passed,
And fed within the forest here
On lion, tiger, pard, and deer.
Then Indra spake to soothe my grief:
"When Ráma and his brother chief
From thy huge bulk those arms shall cleave,
Then shall the skies thy soul receive."
Disguised in this terrific shape
I let no woodland thing escape,
And still my longing soul was pleased
Whene'er my arms a victim seized,
For in these arms I fondly thought
Would Ráma's self at last be caught.
Thus hoping, toiling many a day
I yearned to cast my life away,
And here, my lord, thou standest now:
Blessings be thine! for none but thou
Could cleave my arms with trenchant stroke:
True are the words the hermit spoke.
Now let me, best of warriors, lend
My counsel, and thy plans befriend,
And aid thee with advice in turn
If thou with fire my corse wilt burn."
As thus the mighty Danu prayed
With offer of his friendly aid,
While Lakshman gazed with anxious eye,
The virtuous Ráma made reply:
"Lakshman and I through forest shade
From Janasthán a while had strayed.
When none was near her, Rávan came
And bore away my glorious dame,
The giant's form and size unknown,
I learn as yet his name alone.
Not yet the power and might we know
Or dwelling of the monstrous foe.
With none our helpless feet to guide
We wander here by sorrow tried.
Let pity move thee to requite
Our service in the funeral rite.
Our hands shall bring the boughs that, dry
Where elephants have rent them, lie,
Then dig a pit, and light the fire
To burn thee as the laws require.
Do thou as meed of this declare
Who stole my spouse, his dwelling where.
O, if thou can, I pray thee say,
And let this grace our deeds repay."
Danu had lent attentive ear
The words which Ráma spoke to hear,
And thus, a speaker skilled and tried,
To that great orator replied:
"No heavenly lore my soul endows,
Naught know I of thy Maithil spouse.
Yet will I, when my shape I wear,
Him who will tell thee all declare.
Then, Ráma, will my lips disclose
His name who well that giant knows.
But till the flames my corse devour
This hidden knowledge mocks my power.
For through that curse's withering taint
My knowledge now is small and faint.
Unknown the giant's very name
Who bore away the Maithil dame.
Cursed for my evil deeds I wore
A shape which all the worlds abhor.
Now ere with wearied steeds the sun
Through western skies his course have run,
Deep in a pit my body lay
And burn it in the wonted way.
When in the grave my corse is placed,
With fire and funeral honours graced,
Then I, great chief, his name will tell
Who knows the giant robber well.
With him, who guides his life aright,
In league of trusting love unite,
And he, O valiant prince, will be
A faithful friend and aid to thee.
For, Ráma, to his searching eyes
The triple world uncovered lies.
For some dark cause of old, I ween,
Through all the spheres his ways have been."