9 months ago

Ramayana, Epic of Rama, Prince of India

An Abbreviated Translation of the Indian Classic, the Ramayana by Romesh Chundar Dutt in 2,000 verses

III. The Death

III. The Death of the King - 62 Old and feeble are my parents, sightless by the will of fate, Thirsty in their humble cottage for their duteous boy they wait, And thy shaft that kills me, monarch, bids my ancient parents die, Helpless, friendless, they will perish, in their anguish deep and high! Sacred lore and life-long penance change not mortal’s earthly state, Wherefore else they sit unconscious when their son is doomed by fate, Or if conscious of my danger, could they dying breath recall, Can the tall tree save the sapling doomed by woodman’s axe to fall? Hasten to my parents, monarch, soothe their sorrow and their ire, For the tears of good and righteous wither like the forest fire, Short the pathway to the asram, soon the cottage thou shalt see, Soothe their anger by entreaty, ask their grace and pardon free! But before thou goest, monarch, take, O take thy torturing dart, For it rankles in my bosom with a cruel burning smart, And it eats into my young life as the river’s rolling tide By the rains of summer swollen eats into its yielding side.’ Writhing in his pain and anguish thus the wounded hermit cried, And I drew the fatal arrow, and the holy hermit died! Darkly fell the thickening shadows, stars their feeble radiance lent, As I filled the hermit’s pitcher, to his sightless parents went, Darkly fell the moonless midnight, deeper gloom my bosom rent, As with faint and falt’ring footsteps to the hermits slow I went. Like two birds bereft of plumage, void of strength, deprived of flight, Were the stricken ancient hermits, friendless, helpless, void of sight, Lisping in their feeble accents still they whispered of their child, Of the stainless boy whose red blood Dasa-ratha’s hands defiled! [61] And the father heard my footsteps, spake in accents soft and kind: ‘Come, my son, to waiting parents, wherefore dost thou stay behind, Sporting in the rippling water didst thou midnight’s hour beguile, But thy faint and thirsting mother anxious waits for thee the while,

III. The Death of the King - 63 Hath my heedless word or utterance caused thy boyish bosom smart, But a feeble father’s failings may not wound thy filial heart, Help of helpless, sight of sightless, and thy parents’ life and joy, Wherefore art thou mute and voiceless, speak, my brave and beauteous boy!’ Thus the sightless father welcomed cruel slayer of his son, And an anguish tore my bosom for the action I had done, Scarce upon the sonless parents could I lift my aching eye, Scarce in faint and faltering accents to the father make reply. For a tremor shook my person and my spirit sank in dread, Straining all my utmost prowess, thus in quavering voice I said: ‘Not thy son, O holy hermit, but a Kshatra warrior born, Dasa-ratha stands before thee by a cruel anguish torn, For I came to slay the tusker by Sarayu’s wooded brink, Buffalo or deer of jungle stealing for his midnight drink, And I heard a distant gurgle, some wild beast the water drunk, – So I thought, – some jungle tusker lifting water with its trunk, And I sent my fatal arrow on the unknown, unseen prey, Speeding to the spot I witnessed, – there a dying hermit lay! From his pierced and quivering bosom then the cruel dart I drew, And he sorrowed for his parents as his spirit heavenward flew, Thus unconscious, holy father, I have slayed thy stainless son, Speak my penance, or in mercy pardon deed unknowing done!’ [62] Slow and sadly by their bidding to the fatal spot I led, Long and loud bewailed the parents by the cold unconscious dead, And with hymns and holy water they performed the funeral rite, Then with tears that burnt and withered, spake the hermit in his might: ‘Sorrow for a son beloved is a father’s direst woe, Sorrow for a son beloved, Dasa-ratha, thou shall know! See the parents weep and perish, grieving for a slaughtered son, Thou shalt weep and thou shalt perish for a loved and righteous son!

Mahabharata, Epic of the Bharatas