Through the fair city Lakshman came,
Invited in Sugríva's name.
Within the gates the guardian bands,
Of Vánars raised their suppliant hands,
And in their ordered ranks, amazed,
Upon the princely hero gazed,
They marked each burning breath he drew,
The fury of his soul they knew.
Their hearts were chilled with sudden fear:
They gazed, but dared not venture near,
Before his eyes the city, gay
With gems and flowery gardens, lay,
Where fane and palace rose on high,
And things of beauty charmed the eye.
Where trees of every blossom grew
Yielding their fruit in season due
To Vánars of celestial seed
Who wore each varied form at need,
Fair-faced and glorious with the shine
Of heavenly robes and wreaths divine.
There sandal, aloe, lotus bloomed,
And there delicious breath perfumed
The city's broad street, redolent
Of sugary mead(636) and honey scent.
There many a lofty palace rose
Like Vindhya or the Lord of Snows,
And with sweet murmur sparkling rills
Leapt lightly down the sheltering hills.
On many a glorious palace, raised
For prince and noble,(637) Lakshman gazed:
Like clouds of paly hue they shone
With fragrant wreaths that hung thereon:
There wealth of jewels was enshrined,
And fairer gems of womankind.
There gleamed, of noble height and size,
Like Indra's mansion in the skies,
Protected by a crystal fence
Of rock, the royal residence,
With roof and turret high and bright
Like Mount Kailása's loftiest height.
There blooming trees, Mahendra's gift,
High o'er the walls were seen to lift
Their golden fruited boughs, that made
With leaf and flower delicious shade.
He saw a band of Vánars wait,
Wielding their weapons, at the gate
Where golden portals flashed between
Celestial garlands red and green.
Within Sugríva's fair abode
Unchecked the mighty hero strode,
As when the sun of autumn shrouds
His glory in a pile of clouds.
Through seven wide courts he quickly passed,
And reached the royal tower at last,
Where seats were set with couch and bed
Of gold and silver richly spread.
While the young chieftain's feet drew near
The sound of music reached his ear,
As the soft breathings of the flute
Came blending with the voice and lute.
Then beauty showed her youth and grace
And varied charm of form and face:
Soft bright-eyed creatures, fair and young,--
Gay garlands round their necks were hung,
And greater charms to each were lent
By richest dress and ornament.
He saw the calm attendants wait
About their lord in careless state,
Heard women's girdles chime in sweet
Accordance with their tinkling feet.
He heard the anklet's silvery sound,
He saw the calm that reigned around,
And o'er him, as he listened, came
A rush of rage, a flood of shame.
He drew his bowstring: with the clang
From ease to west the welkin rang:
Then in his modest mood withdrew
A little from the ladies' view.
And sternly silent stood apart,
While wrath for Ráma filled his heart.
Sugríva knew the sounding string,
And at the call the Vánar king
Sprang swiftly from his golden seat,
And feared the coming prince to meet.
Then with cold lips that terror dried
To beauteous Tárá thus he cried:
"What cause of anger, O my spouse
Fair with the charm of lovely brows,
Sets Lakshman's gentle breast on fire,
And brings him in unwonted ire?
Say, canst thou see, O faultless dame,
A cause to fill his soul with flame?
For there must be a reason when
Such fury stirs the king of men.
Reveal the sin, if sin of mine
Anger the lord of Raghu's line.
Or go thyself, his rage subdue,
And with soft words his favour woo.
Soon as on thee his eyes are set
His heart this anger will forget,
For men like him of lofty mind
Are never stern with womankind.
First let thy gentle speech disarm
His fury, and his spirit charm,
And I, from fear of peril free,
The conqueror of his foes will see."
She heard: with faltering steps and slow,
With eyes that shone with trembling glow,
With gold-girt body gently bent
To meet the stranger prince she went.
When Lakshman saw the Vánar queen
With tranquil eyes and modest mien,
Before the dame he bent his head,
And anger, at her presence, fled.
Made bold by draughts of wine, and cheered
By Lakshman's look no more she feared,
And in the trust his favour lent
She thus addressed him eloquent:
"Whence springs thy burning fury? say:
Who dares thy will to disobey?
Who checks the maddened flames that seize
On forests full of withered trees?"
Then Lakshman spoke, her mind to ease,
His kind reply in words like these:
"Thy lord his days in pleasure spends,
Heedless of duty and of friends,
Nor dost thou mark, though fondly true,
The evil path his steps pursue.
He cares not for affairs of state,
Nor us forlorn and desolate,
But sits a mere spectator still,
A sensual slave to pleasure's will.
Four months were fixed, the time agreed
When he should help us in our need:
But, bound in toils of pleasure fast,
He sees not that the months are past.
Where beats the heart which draughts of wine
To virtue or to gain incline?
Hast thou not heard those draughts destroy
Virtue and gain and love and joy?
For those who, helped at need, refuse
Their aid in turn, their virtue lose:
And they who scorn a friend disdain
A treasure naught may buy again.
Thy lord has cast his friend away,
Nor feared from virtue's path to stray,
If this be true, declare, O dame
Who knowest duty's every claim,
What further work remains for us
Deceived and disappointed thus."
She listened, for his words were kind,
Where virtue showed with gain combined,
And thus in turn the prince addressed,
As hope was rising in his breast:
"No time, no cause of wrath I see
With those who live and honour thee:
And thou shouldst bear without offence
Thy servant's fitful negligence.
I know the seasons glide away,
While Ráma maddens at delay
I know what deed our thanks has earned,
I know that grace should be returned.
But still I know, whate'er befall,
That conquering love is lord of all;
Know where Sugríva's thoughts, possessed
By one absorbing passion, rest.
But he whom sensual joys debase
Heeds not the claim of time and place,
And sees not with his blinded sight
His duty or his gain aright.
O pardon him who loves me! spare
The Vánar caught in pleasure's snare,
And once again let Ráma grace
With favour him who rules our race.
E'en royal saints, whose chief delight
Was penance and austerest rite,
At love's commandment have unbent,
Beguiled by sweetest blandishment.
And know, Sugríva, roused at last,
The order to his lords has passed,
And, long by love and bliss delayed,
Wakes all on fire your hopes to aid.
A countless host his city fills,
New-gathered from a thousand hills:
Impetuous chiefs, who wear at need
Each varied form, his legions lead.
Come then, O hero, kept aloof
By modest awe, nor fear reproof:
A faithful friend untouched by blame
May look upon another's dame."
He passed within, by Tárá pressed,
And by his own impatient breast,
Refulgent there in sunlike sheen
Sugríva on his throne was seen.
Gay garlands round his neck were twined,
And Rumá by her lord recline.