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Canto XLI. The Army Of The South.

He gathered next a chosen band
For service in the southern land.
He summoned Níla son of Fire,
And, offspring of the eternal Sire,
Jámbaván bold and strong and tall,
And Hanumán, the best of all,
And many a valiant lord beside,(689)
With Angad for their chief and guide.
"Go forth," he cried, "with all this host
Exploring to the southern coast:
The thousand peaks that Vindhya shows
Where every tree and creeper grows:
Where Narmadá's(690) sweet waters run,
And serpents bask them in the sun:
Where Krishnavení's(691) currents flee,
And sparkles fair Godávarí.(692)
Through Mekhal(693) pass and Utkal's(694) land:
Go where Dasárna's(695) cities stand.
Avantí(696) seek, of high renown,
And Abravanti's(697) glorious town.
Search every hill and brook and cave
Where Dandak's woods their branches wave
Ayomukh's(698) woody hill explore
Whose sides are bright with richest ore,
Lifting his glorious head on high
From bloomy groves that round him lie.
Search well his forests where the breeze
Blows fragrant from the sandal trees.
Then will you see Káverí's(699) stream
Whose pleasant waters glance and gleam,
And to the lovely banks entice
The sportive maids of Paradise.
High on the top of Malaya's(700) hill,
In holy musing, calm and still,
Sits, radiant as the Lord of Light,
Agastya,(701) noblest anchorite.
Soon as that lofty-thoughted lord
His high permission shall accord,
Pass Támraparní's(702) flood whose isles
Are loved by basking crocodiles.
The sandal woods that fringe her side
Those islets and her waters hide;
While, like an amorous matron, she
Speeds to her own dear lord the sea.
Thence hasting on your way behold
The Pándyas'(703) gates of pearl and gold.
Then, with your task maturely planned,
On ocean's shore your feet will stand.
Where, by Agastya's high decree,
Mahendra,(704) planted in the sea,
With tinted peaks against the tide
Rises in solitary pride,
And glorious in his golden glow
Spurns back the waves that beat below.
Fair mountain, bright with creepers' bloom
And every tint that trees assume,
Where Yaksha, God, and heavenly maid
Meet wandering in the lovely shade,
At changing moon and solemn tide
By Indra's presence glorified.
One hundred leagues in fair extent
An island(705) fronts the continent:
No man may tread its glittering shore,
With utmost heed that isle explore,
For the fair country owns the sway
Of Rávan whom we burn to slay.
A mighty monster stands to keep
The passage of the southern deep.
Lifting her awful arms on high
She grasps e'en shadows as they fly.
Speed through that isle, and onward still
Where in mid sea the Flowery Hill(706)
Raises on high his bloomy head
By saints and angels visited.
There, with a hundred gleaming peaks
Bright as the sun, the sky he seeks,
One glorious peak the Lord of Day
Gilds ever with his loving ray;
Thereon ne'er yet the glances fell
Of thankless wretch or infidel.
Bow to that hill in reverence due,
And then once more your search pursue.
Beyond that glorious mountain hie,
And Súryaván,(707) proud hill is nigh.
Your rapid course yet farther bend
Where Vaidyut's(708) airy peaks ascend.
There trees of noblest sort, profuse
Of wealth, their kindly gifts produce.
Their precious fruits, O Vánars, taste,
The honey sip, and onward haste.
Next will ye see Mount Kunjar rise,
Who cheers with beauty hearts and eyes.
There is Agastya's(709) mansion, decked
By heaven's all moulding architect.
Near Bhogavatí(710) stands, the place
Where dwell the hosts of serpent race:
A broad-wayed city, walled and barred,
Which watchful legions keep and guard,
The fiercest of the serpent youth,
Each awful for his venomed tooth:
And throned in his imperial hall
Is Vásuki(711) who rules them all.
Explore the serpent city well,
Search town and tower and citadel,
And scan each field and wood that lies
Around it, with your watchful eyes.
Beyond that spot your way pursue:
A noble mountain shall ye view,
Named Rishabh, like a mighty bull,
With gems made bright and beautiful.
All trees of sandal flourish there
Of heavenly fragrance, rich and rare.
But, though they tempt your longing eyes,
Avoid to touch them, and be wise.
For Rohitas, a guardian band
Of fierce Gandharvas, round them stand,
Who five bright sovereign lords(712) obey,
In glory like the God of Day.
Here by good deeds a home is won
With shapes like fire, the moon, the sun.
Here they who merit heaven by worth
Dwell on the confines of the earth.
There stay: beyond it, dark and drear,
Lies the departed spirits' sphere,
And, girt with darkness, far from bliss,
Is Yáma's sad metropolis.(713)
So far, my lords, o'er land and sea
Your destined course is plain and free.
Beyond your steps you may not set,
Where living thing ne'er journeyed yet.
With utmost care these realms survey,
And all you meet upon the way.
And, when the lady's course is traced,
Back to your king, O Vánars, haste.
And he who tells me he has seen.
After long search, the Maithil queen,
Shall gain a noble guerdon: he
In power and bliss shall equal me.
Dear as my very life, above
His fellows in his master's love;
I call him, yea though stained with crime.
My kinsman from that happy time."